Orioles righthander Ben McDonald is 0-2 with an 11.04 ERA against Boston, 7-3 with a 2.13 ERA against the rest of the league. The eerie thing is, his pitching lines in the two losses to the Red Sox were almost identical.
Both times McDonald pitched 3 2/3 innings. Both times he allowed five runs. Even his pitch counts were similar -- 84 in a 13-2 loss at Fenway on Aug. 22, 83 in a 7-3 loss at Memorial Stadium last night.
"That's weird," McDonald said.
The Red Sox lead the majors with a .274 batting average, so maybe it's no surprise they're the only team that has knocked out McDonald before the sixth inning in his 12 starts this season.
McDonald, however, isn't ready to proclaim Boston his nemesis. He suffered back spasms before his start at Fenway, yet pitched on three days rest. Last night he described his problem with one word: "Overstriding."
"I knew what I was doing wrong, but I couldn't correct it," McDonald said. "It's one thing to have bad stuff. But I actually thought I had pretty good stuff -- when I threw it over the plate."
Problem was, he didn't do that too often, walking a season-high five, one more than in his start at Boston. McDonald repeatedly used his foot to draw a boundary line six feet from the rubber, but kept landing past it.
He threw 30 pitches in the Red Sox's three-run fourth, two of them wild. One of Boston's runs was unearned after an error by rookie third baseman Leo Gomez. But McDonald issued two walks in the inning, and allowed back-to-back doubles by Mike Marshall and Tony Pena.
So much for the bad news. Though he has been in the Orioles' rotation just two months, McDonald ranks third among AL rookies in wins, and is second in winning percentage (.583), behind Chicago's Scott Radinsky (6-1, .857).
If not for Boston, his numbers would be even better.
* THE EDDIE LEGACY (PART I): Reliever Brian Holton was not among the Orioles' latest callups, and he said yesterday he wants to become a free agent. The possibility exists, if the Orioles do not add him to their 40-man roster by Oct. 15.
"I really hope they don't try to do anything with me," said Holton, one of three players acquired from Los Angeles in the Eddie Murray trade Dec. 4, 1988. "I want to try to get back to the National League and see what happens."
General manager Roland Hemond would not speculate on the club's plans, but it appears Holton will get his wish. He is a potential free agent because he has three years of major-league service, and is out of minor-league options.
Holton, 30, was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA with the Orioles, 1-4 with a 9.19 ERA after getting sent to Rochester in early August. He declined free agency at the time of his demotion, ensuring that he would receive the rest of his $347,500 salary.
"At this time we felt we wanted to look at some of the pitchers we hadn't seen," Hemond said. "We're at the 40-man limit now. He's not alone in his situation. A lot of players in baseball right now are in the same category."
* THE EDDIE LEGACY (PART II): Shortstop Juan Bell entered the clubhouse at 5:30 p.m. yesterday, 30 minutes after the Orioles were required to be in uniform. "He said he got lost on the road coming from Rochester," Robinson said.
Bell, 22, was informed of his promotion Friday night, but hwasn't due to report until yesterday. "He got the news at the same time as everyone else," Robinson said.
Gomez, catcher Chris Hoiles and righthander Mickey Weston reported on time. A club official said Bell left Rochester on Sunday. The drive to Baltimore takes approximately six hours.
The third player acquired for Murray was Ken Howell, who was traded for Phil Bradley, who was traded for Ron Kittle. Since joining the Orioles, Kittle has batted .164 with two homers and three RBIs.
* INJURY REPORT: The likelihood of first baseman Randy Milligan returning this season diminishes by the day. Milligan again experienced pain in his separated left shoulder yesterday while taking batting practice. He strained the shoulder fielding ground balls Sunday.
"I don't know what to do," Milligan said. "It's just frustrating. I can't give up. I've been at it this long. I'm going to make it back before the end of the season. If I have to limp out there, I'm coming back."
Meanwhile, lefthander Kevin Hickey pitched for the first time in a week last night, working a scoreless inning. Robinson said Hickey had been unavailable because of a cut on the index finger of his pitching hand.
Centerfielder Mike Devereaux was replaced by Jeff McKnight, who played left as Brady Anderson moved to center. Robinson used the same alignment in the final at-bat at Toronto on Sunday. His reasoning was that he wanted a stronger arm at that time.
Devereaux has an inflamed right (throwing) elbow, but Robinson said that was not the reason he sat last night; his 4-for-34 slump probably was part of it. Joe Orsulak, you ask? He has not started the past eight games because of a strained back, but said he is now available.