Olson gives everyone a patience check

July 02, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

It will go down as a one-pitch save for Gregg Olson. Not that it was quick -- or easy.

Olson closed out the Orioles' 7-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday, but not before a 1-hour, 4-minute rain delay tested the humor and patience of his teammates.

"They're not real happy with me," he said after a bizarre sequence in the ninth inning. "They said I was stalling."

Olson had been summoned to pitch the ninth inning as storm clouds rolled over Camden Yards. He retired the first two Brewers, and gave up a single to the No. 9 hitter, Scott Fletcher. Then the rain came. In sheets.

Plate umpire Rich Garcia gave Olson three pitches to end the game. When Olson slipped on the mound on the second, and fell on the third (a 1-1 pitch to Pat Listach), Garcia had no choice but to stop the game.

"The main thing is, you have to be fair," Garcia said. "When you close a game, you can't let one team take advantage because of the grounds. Or any other reason.

"I couldn't afford to take the chance he'd walk the guy [because of poor field conditions], bring the tying run to the plate and one swing ties it."

After the 64-minute delay, Olson came back to retire Listach on one pitch -- a fly ball to center field.

"We've been working on Ollie to take a little more time between pitches, but this is ridiculous," Orioles reliever Mike Flanagan said.

"We could give him a delay-of-game fine penalty," said second baseman Bill Ripken, whose 4-for-4 performance included a big home run in the sixth.

"[But] I've seen him fall on dry fields. Otter did what everybody wanted. On the first pitch, he got out of the jam and we won."

According to the rule book, Olson needed to close the game to collect his 21st save of the season. If he can't finish the inning, he doesn't get the save.

"I've had a one-pitch save before, but it never took me an hour to get it," he said.

Before the delay, Olson had gotten his first pitch over to Listach for a strike. On the next pitch, the wet ball sailed and catcher Jeff Tackett had to reach high to get it. Olson then wanted another ball.

"Richie threw me another one,but by the time it got to me, it was sopping wet," he said. "I threw that back in. Then Jeff carried the next ball out with his palm down. But by the time I had it in my glove in the position I wanted, it was wet, too. It was a losing battle.

"It sounds trivial, but if you have three fingertips on the ball and all are wet, it's tough to figure where it's going."

Olson said there was no problem returning after the delay. "I've pitched in both games of a doubleheader, so that was more strain on the arm [than this]," he said.

In this case, Olson had an extended time to contemplate his 2-1 pitch to Listach. A walk to Listach would have brought Kevin Seitzer to the plate as the potential tying run.

"I had a long time to figure out what was happening," Olson said. "The best-case scenario was a one-pitch fly out."

He got it, and the save.

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