ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Rodgers not fazed by retaliatory pitch
Sutcliffe's purpose is understood
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- If the Orioles were looking for a beanball war, they may have come to the wrong place.
Orioles pitcher Rick Sutcliffe drilled Chad Curtis with a pitch in the seventh inning of Friday night's 8-7 victory over the California Angels -- clearly in retaliation for two earlier pitches that hit Chris Hoiles and Joe Orsulak -- but there were no complaints from Angels manager Buck Rodgers.
"I don't think there was intent [to injure]," Rodgers told reporters after the game. "Sutcliffe was just trying to protect his ballclub. I have no qualms about that."
Perhaps the reason that Rodgers was not angry was because it was an old-school incident in a new, more polite age of baseball. Rodgers is from that old school, and he apparently enjoys seeing the game played that way.
Angels reliever Chuck Crim had hit Hoiles one at-bat after he hit a long home run. Orsulak was hit later in the same inning, #F probably by accident. The Orioles are ultra sensitive about both players, since Hoiles had his wrist broken by a pitch in June and Orsulak just returned from a hand injury.
The Orioles will get their first up-close look at newly acquired left-hander Craig Lefferts when he makes his Orioles debut today in the final game of the West Coast trip.
Lefferts was acquired Monday night, minutes before the deadline for new players to be eligible for postseason play, but he had pitched that night for the San Diego Padres. He won 13 games for the Padres in his first year as a full-time starter.
Second baseman Bill Ripken took batting practice and jogged in the outfield during pre-game workouts yesterday. He isn't ready to return to the starting lineup just yet, but his strained Achilles' tendon has healed sufficiently that he might be used in an emergency situation.
McLemore comes through
Mark McLemore, who has been starting at second base in Ripken's absence, had two hits and scored two runs in Friday night's victory. He struggled at the plate during the early summer, but has bounced back to raise his batting average to .270.
He probably enjoyed the opportunity to excel at Anaheim Stadium, where he was once one of the top young players in the Angels organization.
"He's been doing that all year," Oates said. "When you put Mark out there, you don't lose anything. When you put Jeff Tackett out there, he plays well. When we put Chito Martinez in for Joe [Orsulak], he played well. When we put Tim Hulett in for Gomez, he delivers a big hit. That's why we have a chance right now.
"When your reserve guys don't do that, you're a fifth-place team. When they do, you've got a chance to win."
Oates on Rodgers
Oates wasn't surprised to read Rodgers' comments from the night before. He has long respected the Angels manager, who kept a less-than-talent-rich Montreal Expos team in contention for several years.
"I wasn't in the National League that much," Oates said, "but when you look on paper at the teams he had, there's no way he should have been able to finish second every year. I like Buck. I've always liked Buck."
Lost in the late hours of Friday night's game was a tremendous relief effort by right-hander Todd Frohwirth, who took over for Sutcliffe and overpowered the young Angels lineup.
He worked two hitless innings to record his fourth save of the year and drop his ERA to 2.17. Six Angels hitters went to the plate against him. Not one made anything close to solid contact.
"He was extremely sharp," Oates said. "His sinker was excellent."
Chances are, he'll get a few more save opportunities if he continues to pitch that well, though stopper Gregg Olson is fresh and throwing well also.