The grounds crew at Oriole Park switched on the new underground drainage system for the first time before last night's game and it apparently performed like a champion.
"It was very effective," head groundskeeper Paul Zwaska said of the system that also was needed during the 46-minute rain delay in the top of the second inning. "There was a lot of water on the tarp, which we dumped in right field. In 15 minutes, it was all gone and the field was dry and firm. If this was Memorial Stadium, there would have been a huge puddle there the rest of the night."
The new system sucks the water off the field from below ground level.
"You can stand over it and hear it," Zwaska said. "It sounds like milk being poured over Rice Krispies."
By the book
Pitcher Mike Mussina apparently has been wearing his Stanford University diploma on his sleeve, enough so that manager Johnny Oates jokingly feigns a fear of matching wits with him.
"You walk by Rick Sutcliffe's locker, and he's got a Game Boy in there. Then you walk by Mussina's and he's got a row of books this wide," Oates said, holding his hands four feet apart.
"I don't know him. I've never talked to him. You can ask him. They talk about how I try to communicate with these guys. I've never talked to Mike Mussina. Sure, I say 'Hi, Mike, you're through for the night, take a shower.' But I don't want to talk to him too long. He might ask me something I don't know."
Keeping his options open
Dates was meeting with reporters before the game when the phone rang in his office.
It was one of those computerized phone-sales systems, trying to sell Oates on a job training program.
More than a few years ago, Ernie Harwell walked into a still-under construction Memorial Stadium and was impressed.
Last night, Harwell, a Hall of Fame radio announcer, walked into Oriole Park for the first time and was more than impressed.
"This is a lot better ballpark. This is the best ballpark I've ever been in," said Harwell, the first Orioles announcer when the franchise moved to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954.
"They were still building Memorial Stadium when I first got there. I think you have a coziness here that you don't find in other ballparks. There's still enough seats here for a good-sized crowd, but not as much steepness in the upper deck."
Harwell, the longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers until he was forced to leave after last season, has signed on to broadcast a game each week on CBS Radio, and will be calling tomorrow's Orioles-Chicago game.
In addition, he'll be broadcasting 14 California Angels games for KMCP-TV in Southern California.
"It keeps me out of trouble," said Harwell, 73.
Walk a mile in their shoes
The White Sox and the Boston Red Sox teamed Thursday to walk 22 batters, with Chicago pitchers issuing 15 of them.
That's not even close to the American League record for combined walks or for walks issued by a team in one game. The Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics walked 30 batters in a game on May 9, 1916, with the A's giving up 18.
* The comeback victory on Thursday night gave the Orioles 16 victories in a 20-game period. That was the best 20-game stretch by the club since May 17-June 6, 1989, when they also were 16-4.
* Thursday night's game was the first homerless game at Camden Yards since Opening Day.
Chicago CF Lance Johnson committed his first error in 60 games last night in the sixth inning on a Joe Orsulak base hit . . . C Jeff Tackett, who did not play last night, has appeared in only three games this season. P Mike Mussina has been the starting (( pitcher in all three and won them all.