CLEVELAND -- Nothing, it seems, will go right for Mike Flanagan these days.
Hampered by control problems, the left-hander suffered through perhaps the most difficult inning of his career Saturday, when he gave up eight runs and three walks and hit two batters. "I'm just not making quality pitches," he said.
Last night, called on to stop a rally by the Cleveland Indians before it got out of hand, he threw strikes and appeared to have the uprising under control. After giving up an infield hit to Kenny Lofton, Flanagan scooped Thomas Howard's squeeze bunt and appeared to have an easy play at the plate on Mark Lewis, who was streaking from third on the pitch.
There was only one problem: Flanagan couldn't get the ball out of his glove. Not only did Lewis score, but so did Lofton, and Howard ended up on third base when Flanagan threw past first base.
"I kept waiting, and waiting and waiting for him to get the ball out of his glove," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates.
Flanagan faced only two hitters before being replaced by Todd Frohwirth. In his past three outings, comprising 1 1/3 innings plus, he has given up nine hits and 12 runs (10 earned). And his wild throw last night only served to emphasize his problems. In his previous 266 games, Flanagan had committed only two errors.
"He's probably a little down right now -- I've talked to him, and I know he is," said Oates. "In times like these, you sometimes can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it'll change."