Pitchers fall behind in count, game

Orioles notebook

April 23, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

CHICAGO -- A familiar problem cropped up from an unusual source for the Orioles last night.

Failing to get ahead in the count, and thus giving hitters an advantage, is always an invitation to disaster. That's what happened to usually reliable Mark Williamson, when he relieved Mike Flanagan in the seventh inning.

"If you're going to get beat, then get beat by being aggressive, not being behind in the count," said Williamson, who gave up a pinch-hit triple to Sammy Sosa with two outs that wound up costing the Orioles two runs.

"I never should have been behind 3-and-1 to him," said Williamson. "My stuff was too good tonight to pitch like that."

"Talk to me about getting behind hitters," said starter Ben McDonald (0-1), sitting a few lockers away. McDonald had the same trouble and ended up walking four -- one in each of his last four innings.

Williamson also was second-guessing himself for the pitch Ozzie Guillen hit for a run-scoring single immediately after Sosa's triple. "I know better than to throw him a changeup with two strikes," said Williamson. "But I did it."

* SPOTLESS NO MORE: Mike Flanagan's earned run average jumped to 0.76 last night when the lefthander was charged with one run in two innings. It's the only run Flanagan has allowed in 11 1/3 innings.

Actually, it could have been worse. Leftfielder Joe Orsulak prevented one run a batter earlier, when Frank Thomas singled following a double by pinch-hitter Cory Snyder. Orsulak's long throw on the fly caught Snyder at home plate, but when Sosa, pinch-hitting for Dan Pasqua, connected off Williamson the scoreless streak came to an end for Flanagan.

* HERE'S THE SCARY PART: Cal Ripken and Glenn Davis have combined for seven home runs and 20 RBIs in the first 11 games -- and the Orioles only have four wins.

Ripken (4) and Davis (3) both homered last night. For Davis, the home run came on his first at-bat as a designated hitter, but it was in the first inning of a road game, so the at-bat really wasn't any different. Davis went hitless in his last four at-bats.

Davis was the DH as a precautionary measure because of a tight hamstring muscle. Randy Milligan made his first start of the season at first base, with Orsulak moving into leftfield and Sam Horn dropping out of the lineup.

Besides his homer leading off the eighth, Ripken drove in runs with a fifth-inning ground ball and a ninth-inning single. He now has 13 RBIs.

* ROCK, MEET TIM: From now on, Rock Raines says it's OK to call him Tim. Or is it, from now on Tim Raines would prefer not to be called Rock?

Whichever, the White Sox outfielder, who said nobody in America knew his nickname because he played in obscurity in Montreal, has decided anonymity has its rewards. He announced last night that he's changed his name back to Tim. He admitted part of the reason was to try and change his batting average back to what it was in his Montreal days.

The switch-hitting Raines, acquired in an offseason trade, is off to a dismal start with the White Sox. He's gone hitless in his first 21 at-bats as a lefthanded hitter and has an overall average of .106.

* SOX STITCHINGS: Carlton Fisk's fifth-inning double, which drove in a run and preceded Thomas' long home run off McDonald, extended the ageless catcher's hitting streak to 10 games. It is the longest season-opening streak of Fisk's career.

Despite a .200 batting average going into last night's game, Thomas had reached base safely in all 10 games. He improved his average to .256 with three hits, including his first home run.

Guillen had a string of six straight hits interrupted when he grounded out in the fourth inning. He promptly started another string with singles his next two at-bats, boosting his average to .297.

Scott Fletcher's two-run double in the second inning last night gave him four two-base hits and five RBIs in three games against the Orioles so far this season. He also drew two walks and, for some reason, perhaps diversion, was called upon to execute a sacrifice bunt.

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