In pinch, Oates won't sacrifice Orsulak's 21-game hitting streak

Orioles notebook

August 26, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

In case you're wondering, John Oates will not jeopardize Joe Orsulak's career-high 21-game hitting streak by using him as a pinch hitter or any other role that might restrict his number of at-bats.

That means Orsulak's attempt to match the Orioles' club record will have to wait until tomorrow night. The hot-hitting outfielder will not be in the lineup when the Orioles open a three-game series against Toronto tonight because the Blue Jays are nTC starting lefthander Jimmy Key.

Compared to other more notable hitting streaks in baseball history, Orsulak's might not appear to be a big deal, but it is to Oates. "You're darn right it is," said the Orioles manager.

"Not many guys hit in 20-straight games and I'm going to give him every chance to extend it," said Oates. "Given our position, I'd do it for any of my players. I might get hammered for it, but I'm not going to jeopardize it. I'm going to give him every chance.

"The only way I might use him [as a substitute] would be as a defensive replacement -- and I'd probably only do it then if I was sure he wouldn't have to bat," said Oates. "And if he did, I'd probably pinch-hit for him."

Orsulak extended his streak to 21 games yesterday with a single in his second at-bat in the fourth inning and a double an inning later. Eddie Murray (1982) and Doug DeCinces (1978-79) hold the club record of 22 straight games.

During the streak, which is the third longest in the major leagues this year, Orsulak is hitting .385 (32-for-83). Brett Butler (23) and Brian McRae (22) have the only longer streaks this season.

Righthanders Juan Guzman and Tom Candiotti are scheduled to pitch the last two games of the series for the Blue Jays, so Orsulak can continue his run at the club record tomorrow and, possibly, Wednesday nights.

* WHILE ON THE SUBJECT: Minnesota's Kent Hrbek extended his hitting streak to 14 with a sixth-inning single yesterday. Cal Ripken got an infield hit for the second straight game to push his streak to 11, matching his season-high (May 16-27).

Kirby Puckett, however, was hitless in four at-bats, so the Twins' centerfielder saw his streak stopped at nine.

* BALLARD, ROBINSON BYPASSED: When Jose Mesa went on the disabled list yesterday, the Orioles decided to promote another young pitcher rather than bring back either Jeff Ballard or Jeff Robinson.

Anthony Telford (12-9, 3.95) joins the Orioles today and will take Dave Johnson's place in the bullpen. Johnson steps in as Mesa's replacement in the starting rotation.

Injuries at the major-league level have caused massive shuffling of minor-league rosters in the Orioles' system. Both Triple A Rochester and Double A Hagerstown are in second place and figure to participate in postseason playoffs, but both clubs will be filling their rosters from players at lower levels.

* THIS 'N THAT: The Orioles have finally given up on Chris Myers, the lefthander who was their No. 1 pick in the 1988 draft. He has been traded to the Montreal organization for righthander Richie Lewis, who will start for Rochester tonight.

Todd Frohwirth, who finished with 8 1/3 scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers, has retired 17 of the 18 Minnesota batters he has faced this year. The righthander threw only six strikes in 14 pitches yesterday, but got a double play in a scoreless ninth inning to get his second save of the year.

The Orioles were 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position yesterday, with two of the hits (by Randy Milligan and Chito Martinez) coming with two outs in the three-run fifth.

The Orioles' bullpen had pitched 16 straight scoreless innings before the Twins scored four times in the ninth inning Saturday night off Mike Flanagan (3) and Gregg Olson (1).

Dwight Evans is 5-for-8 with a home run, five runs batted in and two walks in his last 10 pinch-hitting appearances. For the season the veteran outfielder is 8-for-17 as a pinch hitter.

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