Orioles' winning ways creating mounds of fun

June 16, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Rick Sutcliffe sat by his locker yesterday afternoon, looking bored to death. No one has enjoyed the Orioles' reversal of fortune more than he has, but that is part of the problem.

"It's tough, because you don't want to wait five days to get back out there," he said on the day after he beat the Milwaukee Brewers for his seventh victory. "All of the starters are dreading the off day. You want to get out there as often as you can with the way the club is playing."

The Orioles have turned their season around, and Sutcliffe has played an important role on and off the field. He is the undisputed leader in the clubhouse, and his 7-2 record has allowed him to lead by example on the mound.

His performance Monday night was not particularly inspiring. He gave up 10 hits in six innings and needed a five-run comeback to record his fifth straight win. But the bottom line is the bottom line. The Orioles won again last night, 4-2, over the Brewers, and they are on a 12-1 roll. Everything seems to be falling in place.

Fortune has smiled on Sutcliffe, whose 4.70 ERA is higher than those of the three Orioles starters with losing records. Fernando Valenzuela has a 4.32 ERA and Ben McDonald has a 3.86 ERA, but both are 2-6. Jamie Moyer has a 3.41 ERA after six starts and is 2-3, including last night's victory.

Sutcliffe doesn't seem too concerned. He could argue that his record should be better. The Orioles' bullpen has blown two saves behind him.

"I'm more into 'we' than 'me' right now," he said. "I don't care what my ERA or my record is. This is a huge road trip for us, and we've got a huge homestand coming up. I'm concentrating on us finishing this road trip, and we've got a great thing going at home right now."

The Orioles have won five of six games of this trip. They won three of four in Boston and can sweep the Brewers series today if right-hander Mike Mussina (9-2) continues his march to the All-Star break.

The indicators continue to be positive. The Orioles finish the trip in Cleveland, where the last-place Indians seem like a perfect opponent. There was room to wonder if things would flatten after the 10-game winning streak ended Sunday, but the Orioles had a big night Monday to move back over .500 at 32-31. How long can they keep this up?

"I'm not smart enough to predict or know what's going to happen," Sutcliffe said, "but I do know that we have a lot of new faces this season. It takes time for things to come together. That might sound like an excuse, but it seems like everybody knows where everybody is at."

It was just a few weeks ago that manager Johnny Oates was wondering if anyone on his team would step forward to help turn things around, but there is no shortage of dynamism now. The question is whether that is the product of the club's recent success or the reason for it.

"It's so hard to tell, because there's always more enthusiasm when you're winning," Sutcliffe said. "It's hard to tell if we're winning because the intensity started to pick up or the winning caused the intensity to pick up.

"A big key for us was being able to hold on until we got [Harold] Baines and [Mike] Devereaux back. It wasn't so much that we needed them to carry the club. It was just that they did so much for the look of the ballclub. Having them there gets better pitches for the people in front of them in the lineup and behind them."

The revived offense also has had a positive effect on the pitching staff.

"Last night [Monday], I was down by two runs after the fourth inning, and I didn't feel like I had anything to worry about," Sutcliffe said.

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