Last July 24, Jeff Robinson caught the eyes of the Baltimore Orioles administration when he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a game against the Orioles at Tiger Stadium.
The performance was one of the reasons the club traded catcher Mickey Tettleton to Detroit for him last winter, and last night the Orioles received their first dividend from the deal.
In his best outing in his new uniform, Robinson survived a shaky start to pitch seven shutout innings and the Orioles rebounded from two defeats with a 5-0 victory over the Texas Rangers before 21,834.
Reliever Paul Kilgus completed the team's second shutout against Texas within eight days, the other coming in Arlington last Friday during a Dave Johnson start.
The victory was Robinson's first since Aug. 26, when he beat American League Cy Young Award winner Bob Welch and the Oakland Athletics, 7-3.
But the tall right-hander said he wasn't really thinking about protecting his spot in the starting rotation, although Ben McDonald has been reactivated and Bob Milacki appears well on the way back from the minors.
"I'm not worried about stuff like that," said Robinson, who squandered a 3-0 first-inning lead and lasted only two innings Sunday in a 15-3 defeat to the Rangers and Nolan Ryan.
"That's for Frank Robinson and the Baltimore Orioles to decide. But this was important for me personally. I needed to go out there and build confidence in myself and with my teammates."
A visit from the manager in the third inning was a turning point for Robinson, who had already allowed five baserunners but had escaped jams with two double-play pitches.
"I was creating trouble for myself," he said. "Instead of going after them, I was trying to be too fine. But I had the lead, and I was able to settle down. By the fifth, I was comfortable."
"I just told him he had good stuff and to quit pitching himself into trouble," said Frank Robinson.
The key at-bat was Jeff Huson's, as Robinson battled through a 3-2 count and several foul balls to get a fly out. Rafael Palmeiro then lined out to end the inning.
"I was one or two pitches from being taken out," said Robinson. "The last thing I needed was another start like the last one. I didn't do my job in that one. This time I wanted to take over the game with the lead."
Robinson was 0-3 with a 7.59 ERA in spring training, and the fans were getting a little restless with Tettleton, a popular player here, gone.
"He got better as he stayed out there," said Frank Robinson of a pitcher who did not permit a runner past second base while throwing 122 pitches.
Every Oriole in the starting lineup contributed to the attack, and all had hits except Bill Ripken, who squeezed home a run against losing pitcher Kenny Rogers.
The highlight was Glenn Davis' first Memorial Stadium home run in the third, a shot halfway up the left-field bleachers that gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
"I've been swinging the bat well lately, and I thought the whole time, without much to show for it," said Davis. "But I wasn't thinking about a home run. They're just reactions."
It was an important shot for Davis after his four-error nightmare Thursday in Milwaukee.
"The important thing is yesterday is yesterday," said Frank Robinson. "Don't let it bother you. He didn't."
The Orioles have batted .500 against converted reliever Rogers in his two starts against them. The problem last night was that he had nothing except a fastball.
"You can't get big-league hitters out with one pitch," said Rogers. "I didn't get a single change for a strike. I have to get that back or I won't be any help at all."
The Orioles have beaten Texas in 10 of their past 14 meetings and are 73-37 in the series since 1981. They have won 38 of the past 51 meetings at Memorial Stadium.