SARASOTA, Fla. -- "That was the Jeff Ballard of 1989," Orioles manager Frank Robinson said after yesterday's 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
He was referring to the fact that the lefthander had breezed through five routine innings, allowing four harmless singles and no runs. It was the third straight effective outing for Ballard, who has allowed one earned run in 12 innings.
"I felt like I knew where every pitch was going," Ballard said. "I've used all of my pitches each time out, and my control's been good each time. But this was the best."
Robinson has said he would start judging his pitchers after their third appearance, and at this point Ballard is at the head of the class. "He's allowed a bad one somewhere along the line, that's for sure," Robinson said.
After winning 18 games in 1989, Ballard underwent two elbow operations and never fully recovered from the side effects after the spring training lockout. He won only two games last year. "Having him like he was two years ago would make a big difference," Robinson said.
* MOOSE ON THE LOOSE: "Here comes Superman," coach Curt Motton said as Randy Milligan prepared to board the bus for the trip to Dunedin for yesterday's game. "That's right," replied Milligan, "and don't you forget it."
In the seventh inning, Milligan provided a reminder with a long home run over the rightfield fence to break a scoreless tie. After missing more than a week, Milligan served as the designated hitter in a pair of "B" games over the weekend, then made his second start of the exhibition season in leftfield yesterday.
But Robinson still hasn't been able to get a look at Milligan as an outfielder. He has yet to handle anything other than base hits to his territory.
* WHITT'S RETURN: Ernie Whitt, former Toronto catcher, was given a warm welcome by the crowd of 6,079 when he came into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
A half inning later Whitt earned a standing ovation when he clubbed his second home run of the exhibition season far over the fence in rightfield. It followed a single by Chris Hoiles and provided the margin of victory for the Orioles (6-5).
* FIRST SIGN OF SPRING: The Orioles made their first squad cut Saturday, optioning pitcher Chris Myers to Rochester and returning nine non-roster invitees to the minor-league camp.
Of those who went, newly acquired outfielder Paul Carey left the biggest impression. He was 3-for-7 in two "A" games and had four other hits in three "B" games. He will start the season at Double A Hagerstown but could be with Triple A Rochester before the season is over.
* THIS 'N THAT: Cal Ripken didn't make the trip to Dunedin, but he was represented in the dugout. "My bats made the trip without me," he said after an unsuccessful search for his offensive tools prior to a workout at the club's complex . . . Commissioner Fay Vincent, who has been in Florida for the monsoon season this past week, was at yesterday's game.
Orioles owner Eli Jacobs made his first visit of the spring, taking in Saturday's 10-7 win over Texas in Port Charlotte, but he passed on yesterday's game, which was delayed for more than an hour because of rain . . . The Orioles have their only scheduled off day today, but Robinson planned a two-hour workout.