© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' resurgence has not gone unnoticed, not by the fans who voted two players as starters in this year's All-Star Game. And not by Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who selected two other standouts to give the Orioles four representatives for the first time in six years.
The Orioles, who are in second place in the American League East and in heavy contention for their first postseason berth since 1997, will send shortstop Miguel Tejada, second baseman Brian Roberts, third baseman Melvin Mora and closer B.J. Ryan to the All-Star Game in Detroit on Tuesday.
The team announced the selections on the Jumbotron at Camden Yards before the bottom of the ninth inning of Baltimore's 9-4 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.
Tejada and Roberts will be in the starting lineup, marking the first time since 1998 that the club has had two starters in the Midsummer Classic. Cal Ripken and Roberto Alomar were starters for the game at Coors Field in Denver.
Mora will be making his second All-Star appearance while Ryan will make his first.
Tejada serves as the emotional leader of the Orioles, but he is also one of the league's top players. Through Sunday, Tejada is hitting .323 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs -- the latter two categories leading the club. He also played his 837th consecutive game, the highest active streak in the Major Leagues.
Tejada will make his third All-Star appearance. He made his debut in the 2002 game in Milwaukee and also was named to the roster last season in Houston. Tejada won the Home Run Derby with a record 27 home runs in 2004.
He easily won election this season, earning 3,224,908 votes to 2,012,448 for the Yankees' Derek Jeter. Boston's Edgar Renteria finished third.
"I'm really happy to be starting in the All-Star Game," Tejada said. "I appreciate everybody voting for me. I'm going to try to do a good job for them."
Tejada was thrilled to have his double-play mate, Roberts, also in the lineup.
"It's going to be exciting because we're going to keep the same duo from the season," Tejada said. "Me and Brian Roberts, we're going to enjoy it. We're going to enjoy every moment because we don't know when it's going to happen again."
Roberts' rise to All-Star status is quite a story. He wasn't a full-time starter until former Oriole Jerry Hairston was felled with an injury in 2004. He emerged as a dependable leadoff hitter that season before becoming one of the league's most productive offensive players in 2005.
After Sunday's game, Roberts is leading the AL with a .360 average and .433 on-base percentage. He matched his career high of five homers in the first month and his 47 RBIs are six short of his total all of last season.
He is also second in slugging percentage to Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero, tied for third in hits, fifth in total bases and fifth in extra-base hits. Roberts is also one of the primary reasons the Orioles are one of the league's surprise teams.
Roberts barely edged Texas' Alfonso Soriano in voting, 2,629,521 to 2,434,840.
The second baseman's excitement was tempered after the Orioles were handed their 10th loss in the past 12 games. The club plays six games with the Yankees and Red Sox before the All-Star break.
"It's exciting, but at this point, we're a little frustrated as a team right now," Roberts said. "It would be nice to have that come on a brighter note. But individually, for all four of us, it's exciting for all of us. Everyone wants to be recognized for playing well, so it's exciting and I'm looking forward to it."
Roberts said he is anticipating fraternizing with his fellow AL teammates.
"Being around the atmosphere, being around the best players in the game [is exciting]," he said. "And [I look forward to] enjoying it -- just having fun, getting to know guys, watching them go about their business and how they handle every day."
After being called a "three-day-a-week player" by former manager Mike Hargrove, Mora was moved to third base before the 2004 season and learned the position quickly, emerging as one of the league's most versatile players. He is solid defensively and a productive offense player who can hit for power, average, get on base and lay down the sacrifice bunt or steal a base.
Despite an early slump, Mora has pushed his numbers up to All-Star caliber. After going 1-for-4 on Sunday, he is hitting .299 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs. He had missed the past 10 games with a strained right hamstring, but should be healthy enough to play in the All-Star Game.
Mora appeared in the 2003 game in Chicago as a pinch-runner and scored during the AL's winning rally.
"It's great to be selected to the All-Star Game because there are so many good third basemen in the league," he said. "So I'm happy. In 2003, it was just myself. Now it's four guys. That's awesome."
Ryan has transformed from a shaky middle reliever to a dominant closer in two years. The left-hander has saved 18 games in 20 opportunities with a 1.67 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit .196 against him.
In May, Ryan did not allow a run in 15 1/3 innings and executed 10 of 11 save opportunities. He also has an 0.42 ERA in 12 games at Camden Yards, allowing one earned run in 21 1/3 innings.
"It's exciting. You just call your family and let them know, and they're excited for me," Ryan said. "You just don't worry about it until you get there. We have a tough week ahead of us and my focus is on that.
"It's a good honor and you owe a lot to the team for putting me in that situation -- you know, the guys in the starting rotation [and] the guys in the bullpen helped a lot."
The Orioles have had four or more All-Stars just three times since 1972. Alomar, Brady Anderson, Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina and Ripken were on the 1997 squad while Harold Baines, Mussina, Ripken and B.J. Surhoff were on the 1999 team in Boston.
Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli was pleased with the selections.
"It's tremendous. I'm really proud of my guys," he said. "Two of my infielders starting the All-Star Game; I think we should be real proud of them. Then to have Melvin and B.J. -- we will represent well. Those are four pretty good guys."
The All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
"Those two guys playing up the middle really deserve it," Ryan said. "They've anchored us all year and Melvin's been solid as usual. To get four guys, it's a good attribute to this team to show what kind of ball we've been playing this first half."