Baltimore Orioles starter Jeff Ballard was under a lot of pressure last night, though he might not have been aware of it.
The bullpen was one three-inning start away from being pushed to the limit of its collective endurance after Bob Milacki and Paul Kilgus turned in extended outings on back-to-back days.
Milacki pitched an impressive 5 1/3 innings of relief in the Orioles' 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. Kilgus went five innings and gave up four runs in Monday night's loss. Though that might be what they were there for, it left manager Frank Robinson with only Mike Flanagan in long relief last night. Ballard didn't give the bullpen the night off, working only into the fifth inning before giving way to Flanagan, but it could have been worse.
"We can make do tonight," Robinson said, "but if we needed Flanagan to give us a lot of innings, we would really be strapped rTC tomorrow. You hate to be forced into a position where you've got to leave your starting pitcher out there when he's not effective."
The Orioles have Jose Mesa going tonight, with a chance to rest the bullpen during the exhibition game against the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday.
"I've pushed some individuals to the limit," Robinson said. "Milacki needed two or three days off. Kilgus needs at least a day. I think he could give me one batter, but I would be hesitant to use him."
Horn not aggressive enough
Robinson said yesterday that he would like to see designated hitter Sam Horn swing at more pitches, even though Horn has struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances.
"I would like to seem him swing the bat a little more, even if it means swinging at a bad pitch occasionally," Robinson said. "I think he's being too careful and taking pitches because he doesn't want to swing at a bad ball."
Horn came up with two runners on in the first inning last night and looked at a 3-1 strike before walking on a full-count changeup.
"He's a power guy," Robinson said. "He can really do some things when he makes contact. I think he'll make better contact as the season progresses."
It looks as if he'll have to if he wants to remain in the lineup, since it appears that Glenn Davis will be limited to DH duty if he returns from the disabled list.
New family section opened
The Orioles have opened a new area for families in Sections 32 and 33 on the upper deck. The Family Section will be an alcohol-free zone where abusive language will not be permitted. The approximately 350 seats will be sold as upper level reserved seating ($7.50).
Bill Ripken out of lineup
Second baseman Bill Ripken got the night off in favor of rookie utility man Juan Bell, but Robinson indicated that it had nothing to do with the problems that Ripken has been having at the plate.
"I just have to get Juan some at-bats once in a while," Robinson said. "I know that Bill swings well against [tonight's starter] Randy Johnson, so I wanted to get Juan in there tonight."
Robinson is working with Ripken on his mechanics at the plate. The two spent time yesterday in the video room, looking at films of Ripken from last year.
"He has developed a couple of bad habits," Robinson said. "They're just little things. If it was one big thing, he would have noticed himself and corrected it. I think we've found something, but we'll have to wait and see how it goes."
With his fifth-inning home run, Dwight Evans became the 17th player in major-league history to homer in 20 consecutive seasons. . . . With his eighth-inning single, Mariners third baseman Edgar Martinez extended his major-league-leading hitting streak to 15 games.