Jack McDowell wasn't upset that he didn't win the Cy Young Award last year. What perturbed the Chicago White Sox pitcher was how little recognition he received after a 17-10 season.
Despite leading the American League in complete games with 15, finishing second in shutouts with three and fourth in strikeouts with 191, McDowell got one second-place vote, from a Chicago writer.
"What bothered me was that two No. 3 starters got more votes than I did," McDowell said, referring to the Minnesota Twins' Kevin Tapani and the California Angels' Jim Abbott.
McDowell set out to change things in 1992, and his assault on this season's Cy Young continued yesterday at Camden Yards. He dominated the Orioles through seven of the eight innings he pitched in a 5-2 victory, his seventh win without a loss this season.
"It feels good," McDowell said of his record, the best of any pitcher in the major leagues this season and the best by a White Sox starter since Joel Horlen went 8-0 in 1967. "Every time I've gone out there, we've put runs on the board. I was especially happy to see those runs in the first inning."
The White Sox, who had been scoring nearly nine runs a start for McDowell before yesterday, got two off Orioles starter Jose Mesa in the first. As Chicago stretched its lead to 5-0, McDowell retired 15 of the first 16 Orioles batters and 18 of the first 20.
"I struggled a little bit off and on, but I was able to get some outs," said McDowell, who gave up two runs in the eighth and was relieved by Bobby Thigpen to start the ninth. "It showed in the eighth. Things kind of fell apart."
But not enough to ruin his afternoon, or his perfect start. McDowell attributes his success this season to better control on his off-speed pitches. It showed yesterday. He used a curve and a forkball, along with his split-finger fastball, to keep the Orioles off balance.
Until the eighth, it was a command performance.
"He's been shutting teams down early and giving us a chance to score some runs," said bench coach Joe Nossek, who managed the White Sox yesterday in place of Gene Lamont, who left after learning of the death of his mother. "We're a better offensive club than we were a year ago, and I think Jack's a little bit better as a pitcher."
Said McDowell: "I'm enjoying it while I'm going well, because somewhere down the road, I might not be going as well. With an early lead, it made me stay focused. Sometimes it's hard to stay focused if you get a big lead."
If McDowell has been questioned about anything during his four seasons with the White Sox, it's his concentration. Some have wondered whether the 26-year-old right-hander takes his interest music as serious as -- and in one notable case, more serious than -- his pitching.
Actually, it's a little more than a passing interest. With teammate Wayne Edwards and minor-league pitcher Lee Plemel, McDowell formed a band called V.I.E.W. The band will release its second album shortly and toured last winter with the group Smithereens, including a stop in Baltimore.
"It's more of a release," said McDowell, who plays guitar and sings. "But I take it really seriously. Whatever anybody else takes I don't know."
McDowell's musical career, not his music, got panned by one Chicago columnist last summer when he appeared for a concert during the day and got rocked that evening by the Orioles in a 6-3 loss. Along with his performance in a 16-0 Opening Day loss at the then-brand-new Comiskey Park, it was one of the few bad outings McDowell had last season.
"I had a lot of pressure on me going into the season," McDowell said. "All during the off-season, I took a lot of heat about it [the musical career]. I had to get off to a good start. This takes some of the heat off."
For now, the heat is being redirected by McDowell. American League hitters -- and Cy Young voters -- are feeling its effect.
Jack McDowell's 7-0 start:
Date .. Opp. .. Score .. IP .. H .. ER
4/7. .. Cal. .. 10-4 ... 6 ... 8 .. 2
4/12 .. Oak. ... 6-4 ... 8 ... 8 .. 4
4/18 .. Min. ... 4-3 ... 9 .. 10 .. 3
4/24 .. Det. ... 9-1 ... 7 ... 2 .. 1
4/30 .. Tex. .. 12-1 ... 9 ... 3 .. 1
5/5 ... Mil. .. 12-2 ... 8 ... 7 .. 2
5/10 .. Bal. ... 5-2 ... 8 ... 4 .. 2