Former Orioles give SkyDome All-Star shine Harnisch, Morgan, others making good

July 09, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

TORONTO -- The 62nd All-Star Game will feature only one player in a Baltimore Orioles uniform, but add each player who used to wear one and tonight's midseason classic takes on a decidedly Baltimore flavor.

The trouble is, the flavor of the day will be organizational frustration.

Cal Ripken will be celebrating the best start of his career as the starting shortstop for the American League, but the presence of former Orioles Pete Harnisch, Mike Morgan, Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez on the National League squad brings back enough painful memories to fill the lower half of the standings.

Harnisch is the latest Oriole to make good elsewhere, pitching his way to the upper reaches of the National League ERA rankings after going to the Houston Astros in the multi-player deal that brought first baseman Glenn Davis to Baltimore.

The trade appeared to be a good one for both teams, but an unforeseeable injury to Davis has made it another sad chapter in the club's recent history.

"It got to the point where they thought I was expendable," Harnisch said yesterday. "They thought they were one player away. It was just one of those things. I loved it there, but I'm happier now."

The Orioles certainly are not, though they cannot reasonably second-guess any of the deals that brought these All-Stars back to haunt them.

Morgan, who was added to the NL team when Ramon Martinez suffered an injury on Sunday, was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Mike Devereaux just in time for Devereaux to play a significant role in the Orioles' 1989 turnaround.

Murray had worn out his welcome in Baltimore, but the club would like to have more than utility player Juan Bell to show for the 1988 deal that sent one of baseball's most productive hitters to the Dodgers.

Dennis Martinez was dealt to the Montreal Expos for Rene Gonzales in 1986, then resurrected a flagging career with four straight solid seasons. He was 10-5 with a 2.10 ERA in the first half and was considered strongly for tonight's start.

The Orioles are not the only team with a skeleton or two at SkyDome. The Detroit Tigers never would have imagined that Jack Morris would be the starting pitcher for the AL squad after two seasons in which he was a combined 11 games under .500. He left the Tigers to sign as a new-look free agent with the Minnesota Twins and won 11 games in the first half.

Morris will face Atlanta Braves left-hander Tom Glavine, who probably didn't pencil the All-Star Game in his memo-minder after a 10-12 season in 1990. But he parlayed a 12-4 start into the first All-Star start by a Braves pitcher since Warren Spahn started the first 1961 game at brand-new Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

"Look where I was at this time last season," said Glavine, who was 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA at the break in 1990, "and look where I am now. It's leaps-and-bounds difference. I've said all along that I expected to be successful, but what has happened this year has even exceeded my expectations."

NL manager Lou Piniella had several possible candidates for the starting assignment, but the loss of Ramon Martinez made Glavine a relatively easy choice.

"The fact that he's 12-4 with a 1.98 ERA doesn't make it a difficult decision at all," Piniella said. "Dennis and Ramon Martinez were definitely under consideration, but Tom has been doing it all year for the Braves."

The call was not as clear-cut for AL manager Tony La Russa, who chose Morris (11-6, 3.65) over several pitchers with better raw numbers. Hometown favorite Jimmy Key was 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA, Roger Clemens was 11-5 with a 2.22 ERA and Mark Langston is the winningest pitcher on the squad at 12-3 (3.84).

"It was the toughest call," La Russa said. "It came down to two or three guys -- Jimmy Key, Jack Morris and Roger Clemens. Even the other starters we have . . . it was tough. With the limited number of left-handers on the staff, we tried to keep Key and Langston for later in the game."

Morris probably is better than the numbers anyway. He got off to a slow start, then reeled off a string of eight straight victories in May and June to help lead the Twins to the top of the standings. But he was the first to say that injured teammate Scott Erickson would have been the starter if he had been able to pitch.

"There's no question that Scott deserved to start," Morris said. "He is by far the best pitcher in the league to this point. I'm sure Tony would have had him start."

The All-Star Game usually is a pitched battle. The winning team has scored three runs or fewer in four of the past five games. But the designated hitter rule will be in effect for only the second time in the game's history, which should improve the offensive potential for both teams.

Facts and figures

What: 62nd All-Star Game

Where: SkyDome, Toronto

When: 8:32 p.m.

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WMAL (630 AM)

TV: Channels 11, 9

Series: NL leads, 37-23-1. The AL has won 3 straight for the first time since 1946-49.

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