Milacki is not exactly grand in his season finale for Orioles Future with team in doubt after loss

October 02, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

DETROIT -- The Orioles may have seen the last of right-hander Bob Milacki, whose final appearance of the 1992 season did little to enhance his chances of winning a place in the club's rotation next year.

The question, which became particularly cogent after Milacki dropped a 4-2 decision to the Detroit Tigers last night, is whether he will be back at all.

Milacki did not make a glowing exit. He gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings to end his season with a 6-8 record and a 5.89 ERA, leaving the Orioles to decide whether they want to renew his contract this winter.

There is plenty of room to speculate that Milacki will not be back. He could be lost in the expansion draft. The club could choose not to tender him a contract, since the minimum tender salary would be $944,000 (80 percent of his 1992 salary). He could be traded. Or he could come back to compete for a place on the Orioles' staff next spring.

Manager Johnny Oates wasn't interested in speculating about anything along those lines. He would not even say whether Milacki would get a chance to return to the rotation if he comes to spring training with the club.

"I don't know who is going to be back and who isn't, so I can't say what is going to happen," Oates said. "I suppose it would be safe to say that Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald and Gregg Olson will be there next year, but beyond that, I don't know."

Milacki was not available for comment after the game, and he didn't make his case very well on the mound, where he served up six doubles and pitched with runners on base in every inning after the first. He was 7-1 in a six-week stint with the Rochester Red Wings this summer and pitched glowingly in his only other start since (Sept. 1 vs. Oakland), but his last impression was not his best.

"He has ranged from outstanding to OK," Oates said. "He was outstanding in Oakland. Today he was just OK. I haven't seen him enough since he's been back to make a fair evaluation. When he pitched against the A's, he looked like a 20-game winner. Tonight, he just got behind everybody."

Perhaps the law of averages had to catch up with the Orioles, who

have hammered the Tigers all year. The Orioles won 10 of the 13 meetings against Detroit, one of only two American League East teams to have a losing record against Baltimore this year.

If the Orioles had come back to register their 11th victory against the Tigers, it would have been the first time since 1983 that they had won that many against any one team. But before this season, they had compiled losing records against Detroit in six of the past seven seasons.

Milacki was beginning to wonder if he would ever get another chance to start. He made the spot start against Oakland Sept. 1 and gave up just four hits over eight innings, but the acquisition of left-hander Craig Lefferts kept him from re-entering the rotation.

He also pitched impressively in his only other extended outing since he returned from a minor-league assignment, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up three hits in a mop-up job against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 24.

Last night's start was one more opportunity for Milacki to show that he was back on track after a difficult first half of the season. He has said that he wants to be back with the Orioles in 1993, but he knew that it wouldn't hurt to make a good final impression on anyone who might be watching from afar.

The Tigers did not cooperate. They scored two runs in the third inning and another in the fourth to take an early three-run lead.

Milacki has been vulnerable to the long ball this year, but the Tigers took the shorter route, showering him with doubles throughout the early innings. Dan Gladden and Mark Carreon, the eighth and ninth hitters, opened the third with back-to-back two-base hits for the first run of the game. Lou Whitaker followed with a one-out double for the second run of the inning.

Right fielder Rob Deer opened the fourth with a double to left and made it 3-0 when he jogged home on a sacrifice fly by Carreon.

The Orioles had runners on base in every inning against Tigers starter John Doherty, but they didn't get on the scoreboard until the sixth, when Cal Ripken delivered a one-out single and Glenn Davis drove a ball into the left-field bleachers for his 12th home run of the season.

Milacki worked through the sixth, but he gave up another run on back-to-back doubles by Scott Livingstone and Gladden. In all, the Tigers had six doubles and just one single off Milacki. The bottom two spots in the Tigers batting order were particularly productive, contributing four hits and driving in two runs during the first six innings.

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