DETROIT -- With seven games remaining, Jose Mesa is finished as a Baltimore Orioles starter for the 1991 season.
Mesa went out with a flourish yesterday, surviving a shaky first inning to record his second win in the past 16 starts.
Manager John Oates has selected Mike Mussina (on an extra day's rest), Dave Johnson and Bob Milacki to open the final three Memorial Stadium games against the Detroit Tigers next weekend.
"I'm going to get Jeff [Ballard] a start in New York, and the only way Mesa will pitch again is out of the bullpen in the last series," said Oates.
"I don't want to use the term shut him down. He's not going to start, but should the need arise, we'll use him. Now's a good time for it."
Milacki, Arthur Rhodes and Ballard will start the three in New York.
Mesa said he didn't mind the switch. "I don't care if they want me to pitch out of the bullpen," he said. "Just give me the ball, and I'll take it."
Broadcast team saluted
The Tigers honored their outgoing broadcast team of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey before the game for their combined 51 seasons with the team.
Harwell, a beloved figure in Michigan, said "most of all I appreciate you fans," the group that came to his staunch defense when WJR and the Tigers jointly announced this would be his last year. He has been a Tigers announcer since 1960.
Letters were read from commissioner Fay Vincent and American League president Bobby Brown, and Harwell and Carey were presented with lithographs of Tiger Stadium.
"Most of all, I'll miss sitting side by side with Ernie Harwell," said Carey, who possesses one of the purest baseball voices on the air.
There has been speculation that Harwell, 72, will join the WBAL Radio team for the first season at Baltimore's new stadium. He was an original Orioles voice in 1954 and will do the final game at Memorial Stadium next weekend.
"I feel a little tongue-tied," said Harwell. "It was God's blessing that I was put here for 32 years at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull."
Better year than '83?
In some ways, Cal Ripken is having a better season than in 1983, when he was the American League's Most Valuable Player, but he isn't ready to compare the two.
"It's counterproductive to look at the season before it's over," he said. "The difference is that was a winning effort, a team effort. It's hard to improve on that."
The Orioles won the world title in 1983.
Currently, he is 11 points ahead of his batting average that year, has seven more home runs and 12 more RBI. And, with Glenn Davis hurt much of the year, he doesn't have the protection behind him that Eddie Murray provided eight years ago.
"I hope the [MVP] voters take into consideration how much he has done for this team," said Oates. "He's got to be right there with anybody in the league."
The Orioles played their 92nd errorless game, 1 short of 1989's club record. They had committed 3 errors in the previous 2 games. . . . With a victory tonight, the Orioles can have their first winning month since July of last season. They are 13-13 in September. . . . Brady Anderson had an RBI single in the eighth inning in his only at-bat. He is hitting .500 (14-for-28) in his past 12 games and is the team's leading hitter since being recalled Sept. 1. . . . The Orioles have 36 homers this month and have out-homered the opposition, 27-7, since Sept. 11.