MINNEAPOLIS -- It goes in the book as a blown save, but Gregg Olson can live with the experience he had yesterday against the Twins. The same can't be said for what happened the day before.
"I made the pitches I had to make," said the Orioles' relief ace, who took a crushing setback in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Twins after it appeared he had the game under control. "This time I came very close to getting out of as bad a situation as you can have."
"Last night [Saturday] I had that team down as far as it could go [two outs, nobody on base and two strikes on the hitter] -- and I didn't finish it off. That one was very tough to block out.
"That game played with my mind a little bit -- but this one fixed it," said Olson. "All I wanted was a ground ball and I got it. I'll take that same play 100 times -- you can't ask for any more than that."
When Olson entered the game the bases were loaded with one out in the ninth inning and the Orioles were clinging to a 1-0 lead. Chuck Knoblauch, who had started the Twins' winning rally in the 15th inning Saturday, was the first batter to face Olson.
Knoblauch's bouncer to second baseman Mark McLemore was just slow enough for him to beat shortstop Cal Ripken's return throw. The Orioles screamed in protest of Terry Cooney's call on the potential game-ending double play, which allowed the tying run to score, but replays upheld the umpire's call.
"Everything went right -- Mac [McLemore] made a good play, Junior [Ripken] made the pivot and strong throw, but the guy was safe," said Olson. In his rough outing the night before, Olson gave up a looping single to Kirby Puckett, a walk to Kent Hrbek and the game-winning single to Chili Davis after Knoblauch's two-out hit ignited the Twins.
This time he didn't take a chance with Puckett, walking him on a borderline 3-1 pitch -- and Hrbek did him in with a dribbling ground ball through the middle that avoided everybody.
"He just hit a three-hop ground ball, to an area we didn't have covered," said Olson. "I can't blame myself for that, it's one of those things that happens.
"The night before, once I got myself into it [a jam] I tried to do things I couldn't do under the circumstances. I was trying to make perfect pitches, instead of good pitches with something on them.
"I was trying to paint a corner, throw my best curve on the first pitch and I got behind 2-and-0 to both hitters [Hrbek and Davis]. This time I knew what I had to do, and did it -- it just didn't work out."
Knoblauch didn't expect Olson to change his pattern after what happened the night before, when he got his single off a fastball -- and he wasn't disappointed. "He came right at me with four straight curves, so the only thing he changed was that he didn't throw me any fastballs," said Knoblauch.
He took the first two for strikes, an indication he might have been guessing that Olson might try something different. The Twins' second baseman, like most hitters, wouldn't reveal his thinking.
"His curveball is such a good pitch that even if you're looking for it, it's a tough pitch to hit," said Knoblauch, who nevertheless didn't try until he had two strikes -- again.
When it was over, Olson could accept what happened because he made the necessary pitches. He just didn't get the desired results.
"I should've just hit two of them and gotten it over with," he said sarcastically and, it must be added, not maliciously. Olson's brush with the Twins two nights ago scarred his ego -- this time he walked away with a slight bruise.