Seeing-eye RBI single looks just fine to Melvin

May 30, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

The ball bounced slowly but persistently past the greedy gloves of the shortstop and third baseman and safely into leftfield.

Bob Melvin had a hit. The Orioles had a run. It was their second of the night and it would be all they would need. They beat the Cleveland Indians last night, 2-1, on Melvin's RBI single that ushered in pinch-runner Juan Bell in the seventh inning.

For Melvin, it was no mean feat. He had been hitless in his previous 15 at-bats. His batting average had shriveled to .214.

This is a fellow who hasn't scored a run in his last 23 games stretching back to last September. If he can't score himself, a bouncing single through the infield that drives in someone else is most welcome.

"It found a hole," Melvin said with a small smile. "I had been trying to cut down my swing to reduce strikeouts. I was in a slump, but I wasn't striking out and one finally found a hole."

Melvin came up with Bell on second base, in place of Sam Horn, who had doubled, and one out. The score was tied, 1-1.

"It felt good that Johnny stuck with me in that situation," Melvin said, referring to manager John Oates. "I've been pinch-hit for a lot in that situation."

The win was the Orioles' second in a row, enabling them to capture their first series since April 12-14 at Texas. Melvin gently chided a clubhouse visitor who called it "just a two-game winning streak."

"Just a two-game streak?" the catcher said.

Melvin has been the catcher in four of the five games during which the starting pitchers have demonstrated they can work more than a few innings.

In their best stretch of the season, the five starters -- Jeff Ballard, Jose Mesa, Bob Milacki, Roy Smith and Jeff Robinson -- have surrendered only seven earned runs in 32 1/3 innings, a 1.95 earned run average. In the previous 38 games, the starters had a 5.42 ERA.

"The starters have been taking us into the sixth, seventh inning," Melvin said. "If we can keep it close in the late innings, we've got a better chance to win. The starters getting into the late innings is the key."

Jeff Robinson pitched into the eighth inning last night before first Todd Frohwirth and then Gregg Olson came on to finish up. Robinson allowed one run and four hits.

"The only run he gave up was on a couple of bloops in the fourth inning," Melvin said.

It was that kind of night -- a couple of bloops on one side and bouncing single, Melvin's, on the other that fetched home the winning run.

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