It was only seven innings pitched in a near-empty stadium at the tail end of a disappointing baseball season. But for Bob Milacki and the Baltimore Orioles, those innings will make the winter a bit more pleasant.
Sunday in Cleveland, Milacki reappeared in the Orioles' starting rotation. He was trying to erase doubts about his right shoulder ++ and his future, attempting to finish a long, frustrating and injury-hampered season with one strong performance.
"It wasn't just the win that was important," Milacki said. "It was the way I pitched. I've got my confidence."
Milacki was in command as the Orioles won the opener of a doubleheader against the Indians, 6-3. During his seven innings, Milacki allowed no runs and two hits, struck out four and walked two. The victory -- Milacki's first since June 30 -- raised his record to 5-8.
"I threw the ball to areas instead of the middle of the plate," said Milacki, who was 14-12 during his rookie season in 1989. "If I hadn't done that, there would have been a lot of ifs. A lot of questions about what would I do next year. This wasn't a bad note to end on."
For Milacki, the finish helped ease the pain of the final two months of the season. After a stint on the disabled list with an inflammation of the rotator cuff of his right shoulder, Milacki returned to the Orioles and worked in the bullpen to refashion his mechanics.
"I was rushing to the plate on my motion instead of pitching nice and smooth," Milacki said.
One outing didn't earn Milacki an automatic spot in the starting rotation for the 1991 season. But at least he can be considered a candidate.
"He answered a lot of questions for himself so he doesn't have to sit all winter wondering," Orioles manager Frank Robinson said.
Now, Milacki can point with confidence to 1991.
"I'm not a shoo-in to make the rotation," Milacki said. "But this last game will give me a definite shot. I still have a lot of work to do. It won't be easy."
* The anticipated renewal of Robinson's contract as Orioles manager could be announced as early as tomorrow. That's when Robinson and his coaching staff will meet in a regularly scheduled monthly meeting with team president Larry Lucchino and general manager Roland Hemond.
"Everything will happen in due course," Lucchino said.
* The Toronto Blue Jays last night were without outfielder Glenallen Hill, who underwent emergency surgery yesterday in Boston for a ruptured appendix. Hill checked into a Boston hospital Sunday night complaining of pain in his side. Initial tests did not reveal a problem, but he developed a fever overnight.
* Catcher-designated hitter Mickey Tettleton, a potential free agent, continued to downplay upcoming contract talks with the Orioles.
"They [the Orioles] said they didn't want to do anything during the season," Tettleton said. "I said, OK, that's fine with us. I just want to oblige them. I really don't know what to expect. I've never been in this situation before. I like it here and I want to stay here."