Olson's final pitch is 64 minutes in the making

Orioles notebook

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 retired 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.

* ORSULAK ON MISSION: Rightfielder Joe Orsulak had six hits i nine at-bats in the last two games to raise his six-game average against Milwaukee to .522 (12-for-23).

What's more, Orsulak has quietly, but steadily, pulled his average back into the .280 range and earned more playing time. He is hitting .354 since May 15 and has lifted his average from .195 to .283.

"He's relaxed now," said hitting coach Greg Biagini. "He looks more confident. It looked like he was pressing earlier, and now he's starting to relax and do the things he's capable of doing."

Biagini also said he thinks Orsulak has stopped trying to pull every pitch and is going to the opposite field more now.

* BRADY'S COUNTDOWN: Leftfielder Brady Anderson's two-run homer in the fourth gave him the team lead in RBIs with 50 in 76 games. He entered July with more RBIs than any leadoff hitter since Bobby Bonds had 53 in 1973 with the San Francisco Giants.

The Orioles' record for most RBIs by a leadoff hitter in a season is 66, by Don Buford in 1970. The Orioles are 34-11 when Anderson scores or drives in a run this season.

* OLYMPIC TIME CHANGE: The starting time for the July 11 game at Camden Yards between the U.S. Olympic team and Korea has been changed from 3:30 to 3 p.m. at the Orioles' request. The Orioles play the Minnesota Twins at 7:05 p.m.

* AROUND THE HORN: Yesterday's sellout of 46,033 was the 18th straight and 26th of the season. . . . Centerfielder Mike

Devereaux led the American League with 41 hits in June, and was fifth in the league in average (.345). . . . The Orioles have a 4-2 series lead against the Brewers, one more win than they had all of last year when they were 3-12 against Milwaukee.

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