Milacki plus 3 equals no-hitter Bullpen aces A's after hand injury knocks out starter

July 14, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

OAKLAND CALIF. — OAKLAND, Calif. -- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bob Milacki was hurt badly enough to require precautionary X-rays, but not badly enough to take himself out of a no-hitter.

Manager John Oates couldn't see any way around it. Milacki was having trouble gripping the ball, and the Orioles still didn't have a firm grip on the game. It would turn out to be the right decision.

Three relievers combined to pitch the last three innings of the first Orioles no-hitter in 22 years, a 2-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics yesterday before 40,047 at the Oakland Coliseum.

"They didn't want to risk it," Milacki said. "I was very disappointed. You never really want to come out of a game like that. But I was just happy we won. It's just good to be part of a combined no-hitter."

Milacki was whisked away to nearby Merritt Hospital to see if he did more than bruise his right index finger when a shot off the bat of Willie Wilson struck him on the hand in the sixth inning. X-rays revealed no fracture, but the bruise may put his next scheduled start in question.

Left-hander Mike Flanagan took over in the seventh, and right-hander Mark Williamson pitched a perfect eighth before stopper Gregg Olson came on to record his 19th save. He needed a solid defensive play by Cal Ripken to get the first out and then struck out Jose Canseco and Harold Baines to complete the first Orioles no-hitter since Jim Palmer turned the -- trick against the A's in Baltimore on Aug. 13, 1969. It was the fifth no-hitter in Orioles history, but the first on the road.

"If I looked calm on my play, I wasn't," Ripken said. "I was jittery. That's the first time I've ever been in a no-hitter."

"I think that what Bobby did set the tempo for everybody else," said catcher Chris Hoiles, who went the distance behind the plate. "It set the tempo for the game. Everybody wanted it."

Milacki and Co. got all the offensive support they would need when rookie Chito Martinez delivered a one-out double in the fifth and scored on a single by Hoiles, but Mike Devereaux added an insurance run with his 11th home run of the season, leading off the sixth.

Right-hander Eric Show, who came back from the minor leagues make yesterday's start for the A's, pitched a strong seven innings, giving up five hits and two runs, but that was only good enough to get his first loss of the season.

Milacki was coming off a discouraging performance in his previous start, giving up six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in a July 3 game against the Detroit Tigers. But he had excellent command yesterday, even if his control was a little shaky in the early innings.

"I think I was effectively wild early," Milacki said. "After that, I had some good fastballs and I threw the changeup for strikes. I threw mostly the fastball and the changeup. I probably threw only about four curveballs and a couple of sliders."

Canseco, who struck out three times in the course of the afternoon, twice against Milacki, said it all came down to one pitch.

"He had a very good changeup," Canseco said. "That's basically what got him through. He kept us off the fastball, but what really made it work for him was the change."

Canseco seemed to be in the middle of things all day. He struck out with a runner on in the sixth, after Milacki had been hit on the hand. He also struck out looking on a wicked curveball by Olson for the next-to-last out of the game.

"When he [Olson] throws that, forget it," Canseco said. "If he throws that with a 1-2 count, forget it. No way. It's the best curveball in the major leagues."

Baines went down on a ball that appeared to be out of the strike zone. He tried to check his swing, but plate umpire Chuck Meriwether called him out, and the Orioles put on one of the more subdued no-hit celebrations in the history of baseball.

"He made a good pitch to get me out," Baines said. "That's the bottom line. It was a ball, but I just couldn't stop my swing."

There was no raucous celebration. Olson walked off the mound the same way he did after each of his first 18 saves. The Orioles took the field slowly, as if they still were trying to digest what had happened.

"It kind of seemed like nobody knew what was happening," Olson said. "There weren't really any diving plays or great plays to save it.

"Bob Milacki is the guy who deserves all the credit. If he had been out there [in the ninth], there would have been a dog pile on the mound."

Perhaps it was the crowd that set the tone. Fans began leaving the stadium before the game was over, apparently unimpressed over only the second four-pitcher no-hitter in major-league history.

It was the third no-hitter pitched in the major leagues this year and the 11th since the beginning of the 1990 season. Texas Rangers right-hander Nolan Ryan pitched the seventh of his career against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 1, and the Philadelphia Phillies' Tommy Greene pitched one against the Montreal Expos on May 23.

Orioles no-hitters

* Sept. 20, 1958: Hoyt Wilhelm, vs. New York (home), 1-0.

* April 30, 1967: Steve Barber, Stu Miller, vs. Detroit (home), 1-2.

* April 27, 1968: Tom Phoebus, vs. Boston (home), 6-0.

* Aug. 13, 1969: Jim Palmer, vs. Oakland (home), 8-0.

* July 13, 1991: Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, Gregg Olson, vs. Oakland (away), 2-0.

1991 no-hitters

May 1: Nolan Ryan, Texas vs. Toronto, 3-0.

May 23: Tommy Greene, Philadelphia vs. Montreal, 2-0.

July 13: Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson, Baltimore vs. Oakland, 2-0.

No-hitters vs. Athletics

* Aug. 13, 1969: Jim Palmer, Baltimore, 8-0.

* July 3, 1970: Clyde Wright, California, 4-0.

* July 30, 1973: Jim Bibby, Texas, 6-0.

* July 19, 1974: Dick Bosman, Cleveland, 4-0.

* July 28, 1976: Blue Moon Odom and Francisco Barrios, #F Chicago, 2-1.

* June 11, 1990: Nolan Ryan, Texas, 5-0.

* July 13, 1991: Bob Milacki (6 innings), Mike Flanagan (1), Mark Williamson (1) and Gregg Olson (1), Baltimore, 2-0.

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