Missing curve puts tough spin on Mussina's first start

Orioles notes

April 11, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- It was a difficult afternoon, even for starter Mike Mussina, who gave up just one run in 5 2/3 innings and was long gone before the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Orioles with a late-inning comeback.

"Today was the most he has struggled in all of his major-league starts," manager John Oates said. "He had no curveball to speak of. It was a battle for him all day long."

Nevertheless, Mussina hung tough into the sixth inning after the Orioles staked him to a three-run lead in the first. He was in trouble only twice, giving up a run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the second inning and giving way to reliever Todd Frohwirth after allowing a couple of hits in the sixth.

Frohwirth gave up the second Blue Jays run, but he still pitched impressively in his first regular-season appearance of 1992. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced before Kelly Gruber poked a run-scoring double down the right-field line in the eighth inning.

Left-hander Mike Flanagan also made his first appearance of the year, relieving Frohwirth in the eighth to retire John Olerud on a soft fly ball. He threw just one pitch.

Gomez gets in gear

Third baseman Leo Gomez struggled at the plate all spring, but he is the only Oriole to hit safely in each of the club's first four games. Gomez has five hits in his first 13 at-bats (.385 average), including two hits in yesterday's game. He always has hit well against the Blue Jays, and has a .327 lifetime average (17-for-52) against them.

Lost in the Opening Day shuffle

There was so much going on Monday that no one noticed that Rick Sutcliffe recorded a milestone victory. With the win over the Cleveland Indians, he became only the eighth pitcher to defeat all 26 major-league teams.

Sutcliffe returns to the mound today in the second game of the series against the Blue Jays, facing 1991 World Series Most Valuable Player Jack Morris.

Next in line

The injury that sidelined Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter on Thursday left Detroit first baseman Cecil Fielder with the second-longest current playing streak in the major leagues. But Cal Ripken isn't exactly hearing footsteps.

Fielder's streak stands at 218 games, which puts him about 8 1/2 years behind the Ripken streak, now 1,577 games.

Time stands still

The Orioles couldn't play fast enough during the first series at Oriole Park -- averaging just 2 hours, 17 minutes for each of the three games against the Indians -- but they were back to a more Orioles-like pace yesterday. The game lasted 3:01.

The club was one of the slowest-playing teams in baseball a year ago, averaging 2:59 for every home game and 2:53 on the road.

Carter returns

Carter was back in the starting lineup for the Blue Jays home opener after a one-game absence, his first day off since he sat out a game with a bruised shoulder on Sept. 11, 1988. He has been bothered for much of the spring by back soreness, but appeared to be comfortable at the plate.

Anderson slips up

Left fielder Brady Anderson had another good day at the plate, but he made his second error of the year in the outfield when a hit by Carter skipped by him. Carter went to third, but was thrown out moments later trying to score on a bouncer by designated hitter Dave Winfield.

Anderson apparently has had some trouble getting acclimated to the two different surfaces he has played on this year. He was charged with an error in the Orioles opener on a ball that died in the soft outfield at Oriole Park. This time, the ball bounced high off the harder artificial turf and rolled into the left-field corner.

Winfield on the charts

Winfield's next home run will move him into sole possession of 22nd place on the major leagues' all-time list. Winfield joined Brooklyn Dodgers great Duke Snider in 22nd place with a bases-empty home run off Tigers right-hander Walt Terrell on Thursday. It was the 407th home run of his career.

Winfield collected his 2,700th career hit in Monday's season opener. His second-inning double yesterday was his 949th extra-base hit, moving him past Billy Williams into 25th place all time.

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