MINNEAPOLIS — Sutcliffe gives the middlemen a little much-needed relief
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Orioles were working at little more than half-strength in the bullpen yesterday, thanks to the 15-inning marathon that cost them both of their middlemen.
Alan Mills threw 73 pitches in a terrific four-inning performance Saturday, but that could keep him on the shelf for a couple of days. Todd Frohwirth threw 70 pitches over five scoreless innings, but should be available for tonight's series opener against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards.
The Orioles had Mike Flanagan and Jose Mesa available for yesterday's game, and manager Johnny Oates said he would not hesitate to use Bob Milacki if the need arose.
"We can always bring somebody up for Tuesday night if we have to," he said before the game.
That will not be necessary now. Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe provided more than enough innings to keep the Orioles from being at a serious disadvantage. The Twins had gotten nine innings from Scott Erickson on Saturday, so manager Tom Kelly did not have to overwork his bullpen.
Oates figures to be without Mills again tonight, but Frohwirth should be ready to pitch an inning or two if needed.
"Even though he pitched five innings, he should be able to pitch," Oates said. "Because his [submarine] arm action is not as tough on his shoulder, he is more resilient than a pitcher like Mills -- though Mills is pretty resilient."
That winning attitude
Twins utility player Donnie Hill has looked at success from both sides now. He was with the California Angels as they reeled into the cellar during the second half of last year and he has been with the Twins as they've climbed to the top of the AL West standings.
Yesterday, after he delivered a key double in the Twins' come-from-behind victory, he described the difference in attitude.
"In California, we weren't scoring any runs, so if we were down a run or two in the eighth, we were praying that somebody would do something," he said. "This team has that never-give-up attitude. When things are going well, you know that something is going to happen -- something good.
"I'm sure the Orioles have that same feeling. They're a great team."
Tough day for Junior
When shortstop Cal Ripken wore a size 6 collar during the marathon loss Saturday, it was only the fourth 0-for-6 performance in his career and his first since July 28, 1989.
More on Mills
Mills is tied with Oakland Athletics reliever Jeff Parrett and Toronto Blue Jays reliever Pat Hentgen for the American League lead with five relief victories. He is averaging 3 1/3 innings per relief appearance, which is the most in the major leagues. For the numbers crunchers in the audience, opponents are batting .179 against him -- .186 left-handed and .171 right-handed.
The Orioles don't like to work overtime. They have lost eight straight extra-inning games. . . . Twins reliever Tom Edens has a string of 24 1/3 scoreless innings (14 appearances). . . . The Twins moved into sole possession of first place in the AL West on Saturday. The previous four seasons, the team that has won the West has held at least a share of first place on July 4. . . . Randy Bush was safe on an infield hit in the ninth inning, ending an 0-for-14 string as a pinch hitter. Bush was the AL's top pinch hitter last year, but is 3-for-18 in 1992.