Jeff Robinson pitches Orioles past Indians, 2-1 Series victory is second of season

May 30, 1991|By Kent Baker

Frank Robinson was unable to decide yesterday whether to accept a front-office job with the Baltimore Orioles.

But another Robinson, pitcher Jeff, did not deliberate. His dutie were clear-cut -- make the team's fifth straight quality start.

Robinson complied last night, and Todd Frohwirth bailed him ou of an eighth-inning jam to give the Orioles a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians and their first series triumph (also 2-1) since April 14 at Texas.

Robinson (3-4) went 102 pitches and into the eighth inning for hi fourth career victory against the Indians, who never have beaten him.

"I didn't want to be the one to stop the run," he said. "I've been around four years, and I should be the one to continue it. You have added incentive to go out there when the other guys are pitching well."

He followed the Ray Miller philosophy of pitching: work fast throw strikes and let the defense help you.

Catcher Bob Melvin, who knocked home the winning run with seventh-inning single, said Robinson "established something off-speed [his forkball] early, and it made him that much better. The only run they got off him was on two bloop hits."

Robinson, who has worked to a 2.43 ERA in his past si appearances, said: "I had my best location of the year, and Melvin kept my head in the game. He deserves a lot of credit for the great games I've pitched at Memorial Stadium.

"I was aware that we had put four good games together goin into tonight. We're a lot better pitching staff and lot better team than we've shown."

The Orioles pushed across the clinching run against Mike Walke after starter Rod Nichols had departed because of stiffness in his shoulder.

Sam Horn doubled to right on a 3-2 pitch to launch the rally, the Randy Milligan was walked intentionally. Melvin, 0-for-his-past-15, chopped a single into left to score pinch runner Juan Bell.

"It was some added incentive when he [manager John Oates] hi me there," said Melvin. "You can't expect to be hit for, but I was in an 0-fer. But I didn't think I was going bad. I hadn't been striking out. That's what I do when I'm not hitting well."

The Indians answered in the eighth with a one-out single by Ale Cole.

Frohwirth replaced Robinson, and Cole stole second. But Cole barely got back to second when running on Felix Fermin's fly out, and Carlos Baerga grounded weakly to first to end the inning.

Gregg Olson entered in the ninth for his fifth save opportunity i ++ 26 days and received immediate help from Dwight Evans' diving catch of leadoff hitter Albert Belle's drive to right-center.

Olson ended the game with a double-play pitch to Brook Jacob after walking Beau Allred, and the Orioles had two consecutive victories for the first time since May 3.

"The starters are going great and giving us the chance to win i late," said Olson. "I can't say enough about the way they're pitching and the way Jeff Robinson pitched tonight."

Evans' catch came on the kind of looping liner that "in the firs month of the season, those balls were always falling in," Olson said. "Then they'd bunt a guy over, and I'd have men all over the bases."

After going 23 days with only one save, Olson has tw successive saves for the first time all season.

It was set up by Robinson and the 12th homer of the season b Cal Ripken, off Nichols on an 0-1 pitch in the bottom of the fourth.

That was a response to Cleveland's score. Belle blooped double down the right-field line in the top of the inning, moved to third on a ground out, and scored when Mark Lewis dropped a single into right-center with two out.

But Robinson wasn't flustered, allowing no more base runner ++ until Cole singled in the eighth to knock him out.

He said he didn't mind coming out.

"Your first impulse is to go nine," he said. "But my job is to keep us in the game for as long as I can. When the manager feels it's time, it's time. I think he made the right decision.

"I pitch best when I go at people, pitch to my strength. I did tha as long as I could, and I had no argument with giving our bullpen the ball."

PD The game started in ominous weather with thunder and lightning blanketing the area and the wind blowly strongly in from center field.

"I used to see that in Detroit -- high, blustery winds and rain an then all of a sudden it blows away," said Robinson. "But it cooled things off, and that helped."

"We're playing as well as we can right now," said Oates. "Except for swinging the bats a little better. I like the way the pitching is coming around."

Robinson said: "I just hope this is a steppingstone. If not that, it' at least firm ground for one department on the team.

The change was reflected in the game time: 2 hours, 23 minute -- the shortest Orioles game since Oct. 2.

Orioles tonight

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Time: 7:35

Orioles starter: Jeff Ballard (2-6, 3.97)

Red Sox starter: Matt Young (3-2, 3.73)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

TV: Channels 2, 20 What the Baltimore Orioles have in mind for new front-officexecutive Frank Robinson will not be decided before tomorrow, if then, public relations director Rick Vaughn said yesterday.

Robinson, dismissed as manager last Thursday, was expecte to have his new duties defined by club president Larry Lucchino and general manager Roland Hemond yesterday. But Robinson, who has ambitions of one day becoming a general manager, did not appear at the ballpark.

"There are still a few details to iron out with Frank's contract, Hemond said, "but don't read anything into this delay."

Robinson said Tuesday that he still was weighing the Orioles offer, but had indicated he might be ready to announce a decision yesterday.

Alan Goldstein

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