Jose Mesa is getting closer to where the Orioles want him to be, but he hasn't acquired the finishing touch.
"He got ahead of a lot of hitters, which is good," said pitching coach Al Jackson. "But he still stretches it out too much. He's using up too many pitches going to 3-and-2 counts."
Mesa worked six strong innings, but came away a loser in last night's 2-0 White Sox win. He might have left with the game scoreless had it not been for a momentary lapse against Sammy Sosa.
With two outs, Mesa got two quick strikes on Sosa before issuing his fourth and final walk of the night. "That's an example of what I mean," said Jackson. "He threw the ball good, but he's got to cut down his number of pitches."
A single by Ozzie Guillen and a double by Scott Fletcher followed the walk to Sosa, accounting for all of the game's scoring. "I threw him a slider . . . it was a good pitch, but he didn't swing and got a walk," Mesa said of the 3-and-2 pitch to Sosa.
Fletcher then hit a 2-and-2 fastball to deep right-centerfield. "It was a bad pitch on my part," said Mesa. "I tried to throw it inside and the ball stayed high and outside."
* BOTTOMS UP: The last three hitters in the White Sox lineup did in Mesa last night. Fletcher, batting ninth, had three hits (two doubles and a single), including the 1,000th of his career. Guillen, the No. 8 hitter, had two hits and Sosa, batting seventh, drew the walk that set up both runs.
* FLANNY FINE AGAIN: Mike Flanagan pitched two more perfect innings in relief last night, giving him three blanks in the first two games.
"His work won't go unrewarded," said manager Frank Robinson, perhaps hinting that Flanagan could eventually work his way into the rotation. "I'd like to get him in a game when it meant something, but right now he should feel good about what he's doing."
* THIS 'N THAT: A small fire on the upper deck concourse before the game caused upper section 5 to be closed last night. No injuries, minimal damage.
The crowd of 24,973 was the second largest in Orioles' history for the second game of the season -- surpassed only by the 35,372 gathering in 1955, the club's second year.
The Orioles have finalized a promotional schedule of 30 dates, not counting the final day of the season. It is heavily flavored with a theme of the history of the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.
Ex-Oriole Pete Harnisch makes his first start for Houston tonight, opposing Norm Charlton in Cincinnati . . . Chito Martinez hit two home runs and David Segui one but Rochester, the Orioles' Triple A farm team, lost an 11-10 shootout to Pawtucket in an International League opener yesterday. Mike Mussina, last year's No. 1 pick, left after six innings (four hits, five strikeouts) with a 6-3 lead.
Gregg Olson made his 1991 debut, pitching a scoreless ninth inning last night. White Sox stopper Bobby Thigpen picked up his first save by also working the ninth -- preventing the Orioles from having consecutive complete-game victories thrown at them in their first two outings.