Frohwirth, Mills excel in mid-life crisis With pitching depleted, middle men carry O's

July 07, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Todd Frohwirth came out of the shower and scurried back in three times last night, upon seeing the crush of reporters around his stall.

Meanwhile, across the Orioles clubhouse, Alan Mills was busy trying to send any interested bystanders someplace else, preferably to Frohwirth.

That's the dream of a middleman, to do his job as effectively as possible, without anyone noticing him.

The trouble for Frohwirth and Mills is, if they continue to do their jobs as effectively as they did last night in choking off the Chicago White Sox, 4-3, in 14 innings, they'll get noticed.

By lots of people.

"They work hard. They know how to use their pitches. We're very proud of them," said pitching coach Dick Bosman.

And rightfully so, for Frohwirth and Mills followed Saturday's superb stint against Minnesota in a 15-inning marathon, with another gem last night, keeping the White Sox scoreless for 6 2/3 innings, until Mike Devereaux could drive in the winning run in the 14th stanza.

"These guys have been pitching outstanding," said catcher Rick Dempsey, whose first hit in a Baltimore uniform was overshadowed by Mills' and Frohwirth's performances. "I got a chance to see that tonight. Alan Mills and Todd Frohwirth are just pitching great. You give them a good target and they hit it. Even if they were missing, it wasn't by much."

"I don't think it's very special. That's what we're supposed to do," said Frohwirth.

On a night when the Orioles left 21 baserunners aboard, including stranding the bases loaded three times, Frohwirth and Mills were able to keep Chicago off-balance long enough for the Orioles to squeak out a badly needed win, after the heartbreak of two last-second losses to the Twins.

"We didn't need to play this many innings, but we needed this win," said Devereaux, who drove in Leo Gomez, who led off the 14th with a walk and moved to third on a single to right from Tim Hulett.

Brady Anderson walked intentionally to load the bases, setting the scene for Devereaux's hit through a drawn-in infield.

Mills, who kept Minnesota scoreless for four innings over 73 pitches, earned his sixth win, moving him ahead of Oakland's Jeff Parrett and Toronto's Pat Hentgen for the American League lead in relief wins.

Mills said he told manager Johnny Oates that he could pitch before the game, though Oates had said he thought Frohwirth would likely be more available for work.

"I feel great, just fine. The dude you ought to be talking to is Froh. He did a great job," said Mills.

Frohwirth, who blanked the Twins for five innings Saturday throwing 70 pitches, went first, replacing starter Ben McDonald in the eighth inning. The submariner went 4 2/3 innings, throwing 52 pitches, and gave up no runs and no hits during his stint.

Afterward, Frohwirth shrugged off talk that his heavy workload would be injurious to his arm, offering that his down under delivery and the sinking tendency of his pitches keep him fresh.

"I've done more than what I'm doing here. When I was in Triple A at Maine, I once worked 18 or 19 days in a row," said Frohwirth. "It's not a matter of not having velocity. If the ball's sinking, they're not going to get good wood."

Nonetheless, neither Mills nor Frohwirth were expecting to see action this soon after Saturday's marathon. But the Orioles' offense, or lack thereof, made their presence necessary.

The Orioles, who have allowed less than two runs per contest in their last four, left runners aboard in all but one inning, and pushed across the one run in the 14th inning from the fourth inning on.

In all, the club has left 45 runners on base in their last three games, including eight runners from the ninth inning on last night, when any one would have won the game.

"I tried to forget about the weekend," Oates said. "If we would have lost this one, it would have been pretty tough to come out here [today] with the same intensity as we had tonight after losing those two in Minnesota."

Yet, the manager proclaimed that last night's game was not a must-win situation, though a couple of players hinted that it was just. Indeed, a loss would have thrown the Orioles four games behind Toronto.

But the Orioles got the win, though the effects leave them in the same precarious position for tonight that they were in Sunday.

Namely, Oates will have just left-hander Mike Flanagan and right-hander Jose Mesa, just demoted from the starting rotation for long relief, with closer Gregg Olson available for a short stint.

Oates said general manager Roland Hemond asked if he'd need any emergency pitching help from the minors and the manager declined, figuring starter Bob Milacki and what's left of the relief crew can hold things together until Mills and Frohwirth are rested again.

"I can't believe both were able to pitch [last night]," said pitcher Rick Sutcliffe. "I couldn't pitch [last night]." Luckily, he didn't have to.

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