If the Orioles can get five innings out of Ben McDonald tonight they will be satisfied, but manager Frank Robinson is not going into the game with any preconceived limit.
"I want to keep an open mind on how far he goes," saiRobinson, who said the number of pitches would not necessarily be the determining factor. "If you say five [innings] is the maximum, then you start looking for signs to take him out," said Robinson. "I'm going to hope for five, but maybe we'll get six innings. Who knows? It could only be three."
Since he threw more than 70 pitches in a camp game in Floridlast Wednesday, McDonald figures he'll be on a pitch limit of about 85. "Based on last time, that seems about right," he said. "It's hard to say. They [the White Sox] are an aggressive team; they like to swing at the first strike. That's fine with me."
McDonald pitched a complete game shutout against the WhitSox in his first major-league start last year and used only 84 pitches in the process. "That's why you don't want to put an inning limit on him," said Robinson. "We'll just see how it goes."
* ROTATION CLOUDED: The entry of McDonald into the Oriolesstarting rotation somewhat clouds the picture as far as Bob Milacki's return from Hagerstown is concerned. Dave Johnson, Jeff Ballard and Jose Mesa are already assured an extra day between starts because of the addition of McDonald, plus Thursday's off-day.
Technically the Orioles do not need a fifth starter until a weefrom tomorrow -- and McDonald is the fifth pitcher to enter the rotation. It's possible someone will be dropped for one turn, and eventually Robinson will have to make a decision on who goes to the bullpen when a 10th pitcher, expected to be Milacki, is added to the staff.
* DELAY EXPLANATION: The Orioles waited until after 4 p.m. tpostpone yesterday's game for two reasons. The weather report was that Baltimore was right on the edge of the front that delivered the day-long rain, and any movement of that front would have permitted the game to be played. However, the front remained stationary, eventually making field conditions unplayable.
The other reason was of more importance to both managersWhen Texas returns here in August, the Orioles will be in a stretch of playing 20 straight days. The Rangers will be in a similar stretch and already have a scheduled doubleheader in Cleveland the week before. Yesterday's game most likely will be made up as part of a doubleheader Aug. 13.
* NO-FAULT: The Orioles have lost three of their last four games, and, except for Jose Bautista's faux pas in Milwaukee last week, it would be hard to blame the pitching. The Orioles have allowed only four earned runs in their last 31 2/3 innings (a 1.14 earned run average).
Since their 15-3 loss at Texas a week ago, the Orioles have compiled a 2.36 ERA over the last five games. During that stretch, the bullpen has given up only one earned run and eight hits in 16 innings.
* RAIN DROPS: The rainout scratched the debut of Glenn Davis as a designated hitter. Although the original lineup had Davis at first base, he was later switched to DH to protect his left hamstring against the wet and slippery conditions. Davis' hamstring tightened in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Rangers and he was removed after the sixth inning. Davis will be back in the lineup tonight. If Davis had played yesterday, Randy Milligan would have replaced him at first base and DH Sam Horn would have come out of the lineup.
The postponement also cost Juan Bell his first start at Memorial Stadium. Bell was penciled to start at second base for Bill Ripken and bat ninth against Texas' Kevin Brown. Bell started the Orioles' April 14 game in Texas, his only appearance of 1991.
* FOILED AGAIN: Oldtimers Day festivities at Memorial Stadium fell victim to the weather, the second year in a row that rain wiped out the Baltimore stop on the national tour of charity games.
Wet field conditions caused concern that some of the oldtimers might, suffer injuries. There also was a desire to keep the field covered as long as possible in hopes of getting in the regularly scheduled game aganist the Rangers.
Despite the cancellation, the Upper Deck Company will contribute $10,000 to the Baseball Assistance Team, which uses proceeds to help former players and other baseball people in financial need.
* FEAST OR FAMINE: Horn's early-season statistics are nothing if not eye-opening. Although he has struck out in 14 of 28 plate appearances this year, he has hit 16 homers and driven in 54 runs in only 271 career at-bats for the Orioles. Of his last six homers, two were grand slams, three were three-run jobs, and only one was a solo homer.
* THIS 'N THAT: Reliever Mike Flanagan leads the major leagues in lowest opponents' batting average at .069 (2-for-29). Only six of 32 batters he's faced have reached base, one by an error . . . Dwight Evans is 6-for-16 (.375) with five walks and five RBIs during his last five games . . . By virtue of their abbreviated two-game series split, the Orioles have not lost a home series to the Rangers since Aug. 5-7, 1986. The Orioles are 7-0-2 in the last nine home series against Texas . . . The Orioles' 4-6 start is only the second time in the last seven years they've been below .500 after 10 games. The last time was in 1988 . . . The Orioles are averaging 6.5 runs in their four wins, and only 1.7 runs in their six losses.