Mussina's best stuff shows up in the later innings too late

Orioles notebook

July 27, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Proof that Mike Mussina got more effective as yesterday's game with the Texas wore on came from Juan Gonzalez, who hit two homers off him.

Gonzalez's first shot, with a runner on, came in the fourth inning, and landed about 10 rows into the left-field seats at Oriole Park.

The second homer, a bases-empty shot, went 450 feet to dead center, the longest homer hit at the new ballpark. Yet Gonzalez, who added an RBI double in the ninth, said Mussina was pitching better in the eighth than in the fourth.

"The second homer was a good pitch by Mussina. It was a fastball down and outside. It was just a good pitch," said Gonzalez, who had the third multi-homer game of his career, and the second this season.

"I was pretty upset with giving up the second home run after pitching that well," said Mussina.

It wasn't a great day for Mussina, who has had the first two consecutive rocky outings of his big-league career, leaving in the third inning Wednesday in Chicago and yesterday, when he gave up four runs and 10 hits in eight innings.

"The first couple of innings, he struggled," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "He just didn't get the ball where he wanted it. From where I sat, it looked like two different ballgames for him. He only gave up two hits over the last four innings."

But one of them was the homer to Gonzalez, which came after Mussina had appeared to have settled down.

"He's [Gonzalez] a free swinger, and you have to keep it out of his happy zone," said Oates. "You can make him look bad as Mike did on a changeup. But if you get it in the right spot, he'll hurt you."

Hot bats

Glenn Davis and Joe Orsulak continue to swing the hottest bats in the Orioles lineup.

Davis, who has played in nine straight games, his longest stint as an Oriole, has hit in 10 straight games, one short of his longest streak. He went 2-for-3 yesterday to bring his average to .297, his highest after Opening Day. Davis is batting .440 in his past 14 games.

Meanwhile, Orsulak went 2-for-4 yesterday and drove in the Orioles' first run with a double, the team's only extra-base hit. For the Texas series, Orsulak was 9-for-16, and is in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak. Orsulak, who dropped a fly

ball in the sixth inning, is hitting .391 in July.

Off the wall

Texas right fielder Ruben Sierra hit the ninth and 10th balls off the right-field scoreboard when he doubled in the first and fourth innings. He is the only player to hit two drives off the wall.

Four of the 10 hits to come off the scoreboard came in the Texas series, with Sierra and Jeff Huson combining with Mike Devereaux for the hits. Before this weekend, only six hits had come off the right-field wall.

Miscellaneous

The Orioles have a .310 team batting average in their past six games but only one win. . . . The Rangers won their first series in Baltimore since August 1986, and their 3-1 series win marks the first time in 16 years that they have won three games from the Orioles in Baltimore. . . . Sierra's doubles ended an 0-for-19 slide. Texas batters had been hitting .163 and had scored 19 runs in the eight games before Saturday but got to Orioles pitching for 22 hits and 16 runs in the final two games.

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