About the only person at Oriole Park who got booed worse than Orioles starter Bob Milacki yesterday was the fellow on the club level who dropped the foul ball that landed right in his hands.
For all anyone knows, that guy has been booed only once. Milacki, however, is starting to consistently get catcalls rained upon him whenever he takes to the mound at home.
Yesterday's 9-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins was just the latest in a string of bad starts for Milacki, who might have relinquished his spot in the starting rotation.
Manager Johnny Oates has set the pitching rotation for the Texas Rangers series, which begins Thursday, and while the first three slots have been given to Rick Sutcliffe, Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald, and Storm Davis will be in the fifth spot for the opener of the Chicago White Sox series on Monday, the fourth slot is undecided.
It would seem that Arthur Rhodes, who beat the Twins, 4-2, in the only Orioles win in the four-game series, would get the start ahead of Milacki, who was temporarily bounced from the rotation on July 4 for Davis.
If yesterday was Milacki's last chance to hold a place in the rotation, he didn't make a convincing case, surrendering a first-inning three-run homer to Pedro Munoz, marking the 11th time in his past 14 outings he has been scored upon in the opening inning.
When asked after the game to evaluate Milacki's performance, Oates could only say, "It was pretty consistent."
That sentence, when applied to Mussina, is a good phrase. With Milacki, who left the game after 2 2/3 innings, having allowed five runs and five hits, being consistent has taken on a new meaning.
In his last six starts, Milacki, who left the clubhouse before reporters arrived yesterday, is 0-4 with an ERA of 11.86, having allowed 29 earned runs and 37 hits in 22 innings over that span.
"It's nothing mechanical. I just don't see any location," said Orioles pitching coach Dick Bosman of Milacki, who led the staff in wins in 1991 with 10.
Milacki's location was particularly bad to Munoz, who came up after Kent Hrbek was walked intentionally with a runner on third and two out.
"[The walk] was because of what he's done against Bobby [.391 lifetime]. I don't know if you can question that if you see what he's done against us," said Oates. "The bottom line is he made a bad pitch with two strikes to the next hitter."
Oates said he would make the move "100 times out of 100 with the matchup I had.
"I'm telling [Milacki] I don't have confidence in you getting this guy, but I've got confidence in you getting the next guy out."