Mike Flanagan was supposed to have the night off yesterday. But when the bullpen phone rang late last evening, the Orioles' veteran lefthander answered the call.
Summoned in the eighth inning to face lefthanded Seattle hitters Pete O'Brien and Alvin Davis, Flanagan added to his folk-hero status at Memorial Stadium. One night after he pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief against the Mariners, he retired O'Brien on a ground ball and caught Davis looking at a wicked third-strike curveball. It went a long way toward silencing the Mariners.
Flanagan then gave way to righthander Mark Williamson, who closed out the inning by walking Jay Buhner (who had homered against him Tuesday) and getting Omar Vizquel on an infield roller.
"He [Flanagan] should not have been up [in the bullpen]," manager Frank Robinson said after the Orioles' 2-1 victory. "I got him up twice, and he said he could come in. I don't know where we'd be without him."
* PENNED UP: Dave Johnson, whose 13 wins led the Orioles' staff a year ago, found himself in the bullpen yesterday. Three straight starts where he failed to pitch through the fifth inning proved to be the ticket.
"We're trying to get the starting rotation straightened out," Robinson said in making the announcement.
The Orioles will go with a four-man rotation of Ben McDonald, Jeff Robinson, Jeff Ballard and Jose Mesa for the time being in an attempt to get their pitching on track. Squeezing in a fifth starter with three off days in the next 12 days was not the way to go, Robinson decided. And by putting Johnson in the bullpen, the Orioles can ease some of the burden on their middle relievers.
"He is best suited out of any of the other starters to do the job for me out there," Robinson said.
Johnson, a Baltimore native who lives in Middle River, accepted the demotion stoically, but with obvious disappointment.
"I didn't expect it to happen," he said, "but I knew if something was going to happen, I was the likely candidate.
"I think I'm more effective as a starter, but if the bullpen is where they want me to be, that's where I'll go. If they want me to pitch 10 straight days, I'll pitch 10 straight days."
* DAVIS WATCH: Glenn Davis will see specialists in Cleveland and Los Angeles in the next week for further recommendations on his injured spinal accessory nerve. The first baseman is on the 15-day disabled list with the neck injury, but is not expected back for perhaps a month.
Dr. Charles Silberstein, the Orioles' team physician, said Davis would see Dr. Bob Watkins in Los Angeles "just for the sake of completeness . . . I think that is going to be the last one."
Davis will not accompany the team to Rochester for tonight's vTC exhibition game against the Triple A Red Wings, but will join the team in Anaheim tomorrow when the Orioles open a four-game series.
* THIS 'N THAT: The Orioles held one of their periodic organizational meetings yesterday afternoon to "review what's going on," Robinson said. "The phrase right now is patience. We believed in the ballclub coming out of spring training and we still believe in it. If we stopped believing in it after 18 games, then we couldn't have believed very strongly." . . . More comebacks than Jim Palmer? Orioles publicist and former college pitcher Rick Vaughn will participate in George Mason's alumni game this Sunday. Vaughn threw on the side before last night's game . . . The Orioles are offering three sets of a four-set collection of baseball cards featuring all 501 players on the club's all-time roster. Giveaways are set for May 17, June 28 and Aug. 11. The final set of cards can be purchased at participating Maryland Crown Petroleum outlets beginning Aug. 12 . . . A crowd of 19,918 loudly applauded the final pitch of Nolan Ryan's seventh career no-hitter last night, which was carried on the centerfield scoreboard.