When Mike Flanagan pitched the ninth inning of Saturday night's 7-2 win over the White Sox, something was missing -- his windup.
Although there were no runners on base, Flanagan pitched out of the stretch to all three hitters he faced, a la Gregg Olson and Todd Frohwirth. He retired all three routinely, but said yesterday that his new delivery wasn't necessarily a trend-setter.
"I didn't have time to get comfortable with two deliveries," the left-hander said. "I was getting ready to face a left-handed hitter in the eighth inning, and in that situation it would have been with a runner on base, so I didn't throw with a windup.
"When I went out there for the ninth, I just figured I was better off staying in the stretch."
Dempsey on a roll
From all accounts, Rick Dempsey is among the hottest players on the Orioles' bench. The club's official chief instructor and unofficial head cheerleader predicted seven runs before the start of Saturday night's game.
"We going to score enough runs early to get him [starting pitcher Bob Milacki] all juiced up," said Dempsey. The Orioles proceeded to score seven times in the first five innings, and Milacki (3-2) coasted.
"I called Hoilie's home run, too," Dempsey said of catcher Chris Hoiles' two-run blast in the first inning. "That was the fourth one in a row of his that I've called."
A long-standing bench ritual with the Orioles allows anybody three home run "calls" a game. Three misses and he's finished.
"He's going so well he's telling people they better be nice to him or he won't give them a call," said Flanagan.
Dempsey was a little off yesterday -- he predicted five runs for the Orioles, figuring that would be enough for Ben McDonald.
Neither did he make a call on home runs by Hoiles or Leo Gomez.
Hoiles right back in lineup
Hoiles was back in the starting lineup yesterday, just hours after he took a foul tip off his left hand in the ninth inning Saturday night.
"It was just a bruise," said Hoiles. "I don't think it will affect me."
It was a happy ending to a frightening incident. Hoiles was hit on the heel of his hand, an area where he easily could have suffered a fracture. But X-rays late Saturday showed that he had dodged a bullet.
"They said there is a bone in there that, if you hit it, it is very easy to break," Hoiles said. "It hurt a little bit. It's tender, but I don't think it will matter."
Brady's day off
Left fielder Brady Anderson was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season. He was replaced in the leadoff role by center fielder Mike Devereaux, who batted at the top of the order for the first time since 1991.
Anderson and Devereaux figure to play almost every game, but manager Johnny Oates said he will pick his spots to rest them.
"If Brady and Devo both stay healthy, they'll get five to 10 days off this year," Oates said. "If Brady is given a day off, it will be for a day game after a night game against a tough left-hander. For Mike, it will be the same thing against a right-hander who is tough on him."
Before yesterday, Anderson had played more innings than shortstop Cal Ripken. Anderson had played every inning in the outfield. Ripken had been removed from one game for two innings.
Olson needs two saves to tie Tippy Martinez, who set the club record of 105 in 499 appearances. Olson has registered 103 (123 opportunities) in only 223 games. . . . Sam Horn has hit .435 (10-for-23), with six RBI, in his last eight games to raise his average from .238 to .292. . . . Mark McLemore had started five straight games at second base before Bill Ripken made his first appearance since being beaned by the White Sox's Alex Fernandez nine days ago.