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Six Inches Is Making A Mile of Difference For Paquette

June 14, 1996

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Home runs are flying 400 feet off Craig Paquette’s bat because he set his feet are six inches farther apart.

When the Kansas City Royals went to Wichita, Kan., for an exhibition game on May 28, Paquette was struggling to stay in the lineup. Then he remembered how he used to widen his stance every time pitchers got two strikes on him, and decided to try the new stance full time.

Since then, the Royals haven’t had a hotter hitter. The outfielder-third baseman drove in four runs in Kansas City’s 10-2 victory over Baltimore on Thursday night with a single and his second three-run homer in two days.

In his last nine games, Paquette has two doubles, four home runs and 10 RBIs.

``That’s what we know he’s got,″ manager Bob Boone said. ``With Poky, it’s always been there. It’s a matter of him getting control of himself and his body, so he can consistently put those good swings on.″

``I moved my feet about six inches farther apart, and it’s working well,″ Paquette said. ``It keeps me back. I’m really seeing the ball good. I feel a lot more comfortable.″

Doug Linton (2-2) combined with two relievers on a 3-hitter, but, in Linton’s words, ``It’s Cal Ripken’s day.″

The Baltimore shortstop, who got one of the Orioles’ hits, tied Sachio Kinugasa’s world record by playing in his 2,215th consecutive game. He’s set to break the record on Friday, with Kinugasa on hand.

The disappointly small crowd of 20,108 gave a standing ovation to Kinugasa when the former Japanese League player was introduced in the fourth inning and stood and applauded for almost 2 1/2 minutes in the bottom of the third when Ripken trotted onto the field after it became an official game.

``I was just out there trying to keep our team in a game we needed very much to win,″ said Linton, who walked two, struck out six and surrendered a run on a Brady Anderson homer. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced before being replaced by Mike Magnante with two out in the seventh.

``Linton is amazing,″ Boone said. ``That’s twice where he’s sat 8-9 days and come back strong. It was really a masterful job.″

Joe Vitiello had three RBIs as the Royals knocked Kent Mercker (3-5) around for four runs in the first. Mercker lasted just 2 2-3 innings while losing for the fourth time in five decisions. He was charged with eight hits and five runs.

``I didn’t have my good stuff,″ Mercker said. ``I guess they don’t have too much patience with me. They had a guy warming up in the first, second and third.″

Baltimore manager Davey Johnson agreed with his pitcher on one point.

``He didn’t have his good stuff,″ Johnson said. ``Or they’re seeing the ball well. Our starting pitcher didn’t keep us in the game. Their hitters are like an open book, but I guess we aren’t paying attention.″

Johnson said his team was not distracted by the Ripken hoopla.

``That stuff doesn’t affect us,″ he said.

Roberto Alomar went 0-for-3 and his major league-leading average fell from .399 to .394.

``I’m not thinking about hitting .400,″ Alomar said. ``My goal is to help the team win.″

Notes: There were 25 members of the Japanese media in attendance. ... Until Paquette began connecting on Wednesday, the Royals had not had a three-run homer since May 9. ... The Royals have used 61 different lineups in 65 games. ... The Royals sent pitcher Jose Rosado back to Triple-A Omaha before the game and recalled Magnante. ... Kevin Young for Kansas City and Rafael Palmeiro for Baltimore also homered. ... Palmeiro stretched his hitting streak to 11 straight games.

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