NEW YORK -- Author George Will can spend 10 page describing the inner workings of a 3-2 count, but last night he was seen leaving Yankee Stadium in the fifth inning. That's how painful it was watching the Orioles and Yankees.
It's possible Will stuck around to console Orioles owner ElJacobs, who was among the crowd of 17,084, but it's more likely he grew exhausted keeping track of the number of trips New York manager Stump Merrill made to the mound.
"You keep Stump off the field, and you could get out of there 4minutes earlier," Orioles manager Frank Robinson joked after his club's sixth straight win, a 6-3 victory in 10 innings. "What's he got, an appearance clause in his contract?"
That's a frightening thought, with the series set to resumtonight. Last night's game was your basic insult to the national pastime. The teams combined to use nine pitchers and leave 22 men on base. And that's only a hint of how poorly the game was played.
Take the Orioles' three-run second. It began in grand style, wittwo walks by Yankees starter Mark Leiter. Then Bill Ripken hit a one-out bloop single to center that probably should have been caught, loading the bases.
The first run scored on a passed ball by catcher Matt Nokes. Thsecond scored when Leiter failed to cover first on a routine grounder to second by Steve Finley. The third scored on a legitimate RBI single to center by Brady Anderson.
The Yankees were bad, but so were the Orioles. What other clucould fail to score with runners in scoring position and none out in three straight innings? Here's how it went: First-and-second in the fourth, first-and-third in the fifth and man-on-third in the sixth.
The game finally ended after Cal Ripken hit his 19th homeleading off the 10th against reliever Alan Mills, who wore No. 69 (did anyone say, spring training game?). Bill Ripken added a two-run, two-out double to complete the scoring.
Commissioner Fay Vincent and AL president Bobby Brown alswere in attendance, but they left just before reliever Gregg Olson earned his 34th save, tying the club record set by Don Aase in 1986. At that point only a handful of fans remained. Heaven help them.
* SQUEEZE PLAY: Righthander Mickey Weston is one of severapitchers who might not figure into the Orioles' plans next season, even though he was 11-1 with a 1.98 ERA for Triple A Rochester.
"I wouldn't say he's in the wrong place at the wrong time,Robinson said. "But it's a different situation now than it was in the '88 season, the '89 season or even the beginning of this year.
"Other guys have come forward. He's kind of fallen on the deptchart. Right now what he needs is somebody to give him the ball and say, 'Go out and pitch.' "
Weston, 29, started twice for the Orioles in August, but lasted total of 7 1/3 innings, allowing nine runs on 14 hits, including three homers.
"We didn't have the opportunity to be that patient with him athat time," Robinson said. "We were struggling, looking for answers. Maybe that was unfair to him. But that's just the way it was."
Meanwhile, the Orioles have a number of pitchers in a similaposition to Weston -- John Mitchell, Dorn Taylor and Jose Bautista come to mind, as do Eric Bell and Mike Smith.
Each appears to have fallen behind a group of rookies thaincludes Ben McDonald, Jose Mesa, Anthony Telford and Curt Schilling. The Orioles have two other hot pitching prospects in the minors -- Mike Mussina and Arthur Rhodes.
"Count the numbers, look at the ages," said Weston, who hanot pitched since rejoining the club last week. "But I don't know what their thinking is. I'll talk to them at the end of the season. The kind of season I had this year, I definitely feel it warrants a shot.
"All things being equal, if they don't have plans for me at my agemy desire would be to go someplace else because I can pitch. I'm not making a prideful statement. But I have confidence I can do the job."
* INJURY REPORT: Two Orioles outfielders left the game witinjuries last night. Finley is expected to be fine after suffering a mild right ankle sprain while getting picked off second in the second inning. Joe Orsulak is another story.
Orsulak has started only four of the last 18 games due to muscle strain in his upper back, and he aggravated his condition while striking out in the fifth inning last night. It is possible he will not play again this season.
"I hurt it pretty good," Orsulak said. "I hate to guess, but I don'think I'll play any more in this series. I'd like to be ready to play against Toronto [next week]. I want to play again this year. But it's just one of those things."
Finley was replaced by Mike Devereaux, who did not stardespite hitting home runs in back-to-back games (Robinson said he planned to use him the next two days against lefthanders). Orsulak was replaced by Jeff McKnight.
* STILL HOPE: Orioles righthander Dave Johnson has allowed major-league high 28 home runs, but in recent weeks the gopher-ball race has developed into one of the hottest in baseball.
The current standings: