FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Right-hander Jeff Robinson unveiled his forkball and overpowered the New York Yankees for three innings last night, but his control deteriorated so quickly that he barely made it through the fourth and left without finishing the fifth.
The Baltimore Orioles built him a six-run lead with 15 hits through the first five innings, but it took a ninth-inning home run by third baseman Leo Gomez to get the Orioles out of Fort Lauderdale Stadium with a 7-6 Grapefruit League victory.
The Yankees scored four runs in the fourth, three of them on a home run by Mel Hall. Robinson then walked the bases loaded before striking out Steve Sax to end the inning.
But it wasn't quite as bad as all that. The inning would have been prettier if new left fielder Randy Milligan had not shied away from a one-out pop fly, which dropped just out of the reach of shortstop Cal Ripken. No doubt, Orioles manager Frank Robinson was happy that Milligan didn't barrel into Ripken and endanger the club's claim to contention.
Jeff Robinson came into the game needing to show that he can be an effective starter. He took the mound with an 0-3 record and a 7.71 ERA, but hoped to improve those numbers by adding the forkball to his spring repertoire.
The results were mixed. Robinson struggled with his location again in the fifth inning and left the game with two runners on and one out.
It was another big night for the new-look Orioles offense, which rolled up 19 hits, three each from shortstop Cal Ripken and center fielder Mike Devereaux. The Gomez home run gave right-hander J.J. Bautista his second victory of the spring.
* Right-hander Ben McDonald will have his sore elbow examined by Orioles orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein today.
McDonald said yesterday that the stiffness had not subsided overnight, but felt that it was a positive sign that he didn't feel any worse.
"I threw 40 or 50 pitches warming up in the bullpen [Thursday] and it feels about the same today," he said, noting that pitchers often experience increased arm soreness the day after they throw.
* Frank Robinson said yesterday that if McDonald is not up to making his scheduled Opening Day start against the Chicago White Sox on April 8, Dave Johnson will take his place.
"Yeah, it'll be 52,000 people and the Middle River kid," Robinson said.
Johnson, the club's winningest pitcher last year, started the 1990 home opener after baseball's labor dispute forced the Orioles to open with eight games on the road.
* The Orioles announced that Jim Youngblood has been appointed the club's roving minor league hitting instructor. Youngblood replaces Deacon Jones, who has become the Orioles advance scout. The team also hired Tim Bishop to be the team's roving conditioning coach.
* Former Montreal Expos pitcher Drew Hall tried out at the Orioles' temporary spring training facility at Pampano Beach yesterday, but was not offered a contract.