If there are any doubts that Bob Milacki has recaptured hi 1989 form, they don't belong to Orioles manager John Oates.
"He's shown that to me," Oates said after Milacki shut out thNew York Yankees, 8-0, on five hits last night. "As far as I'm concerned, he's pitching better now than he ever has."
Milacki is not into self-assessment, but he's done a good job osalvaging what looked like it might be another lost season. After spending the first month of the season with Double A Hagerstown, and not joining the rotation until May 20, the righthander has become the club's top winner (9-8).
More important he has been the most consistent starteraveraging more than seven innings in his last 15 starts. "I want to finish up consistently," said Milacki. "I want to be out there during the seventh-inning stretch, not in here icing my arm. That means I'm doing my job."
In his last six starts, though he's only 2-2 over that span, Milackhas pitched to a 2.25 earned run average while allowing 39 hits in 44 innings. He has pitched six or more innings in 12 straight starts, and 14 of his last 15.
"I had my ups and downs earlier this year, now it's starting tcome together," said Milacki, who is now 5-0 with a 2.24 ERA lifetime against the Yankees. He has also been the starting pitcher in 10 of the last 22 shutouts pitched by the Orioles, dating back to the last month of 1988.
* PRETTY GOOD COMPANY: If Pat Kelly needs any consolation today, and there's a good chance he does, it comes from the record of a pretty good third baseman. Brooks Robinson once made three errors in one inning for the Orioles -- the same number Kelly committed in the fifth and sixth innings last night.
All three of Kelly's miscues came on errant throws and led to fivunearned runs for the Orioles. "I'm concerned for the kid," Yankees manager Stump Merrill said of Kelly, who has 18 errors for the season. "It's to the point where he's starting to think about throwing it before he fields the ball.
"I feel for him because he's a helluva kid. He's too good a playeto let something like that interfere -- he's a kid who cares.
"I'm going to play him at second tomorrow [tonight] and D[Steve] Sax," said Merrill. "He's a second baseman playing third. It's an unusual position for him."
* CHITO BOUNCES BACK: Chito Martinez had gone 4-for-33 (.121), dropping his average 37 points to .284, before hitting his 11th home run in the fifth inning last night. He added a double an inning later.
"The whole complexion of the game changed with Chito's homrun," said Oates. "Up until then [Scott] Sanderson was throwing the ball very well."
The home run by Martinez followed a single off the rightfield walby Sam Horn and broke a scoreless tie. Kelly's first error, on a play that would have ended the inning, set up a two-run double by Brady Anderson.