Moyer tries to shrug off mini-slump

August 05, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

For pitchers such as Jamie Moyer, the battle never ends.

"I remember people telling me in high school, 'You don't throw hard enough. You don't have a good enough breaking ball. You're too small,' " Moyer said. "That kind of motivated me."

He can't throw faster than 83 mph. His curveball won't remind you of Bert Blyleven in his prime. His slender, 6-foot, 170-pound frame doesn't intimidate hitters.

Then again, where would the Orioles be without Moyer? Probably not in contention for the American League East title.

During a phenomenal run between June 10 and July 24, Moyer won seven of eight decisions, pitched back-to-back shutouts, won three games on a road trip and helped the Orioles climb from sixth place to first.

It was a golden stretch for Moyer, 30, who has spent the past eight seasons with four major-league teams, including several stints in the minors. He began this season by going 6-0 for the Rochester Red Wings, before the Orioles recalled him to replace then-injured Arthur Rhodes.

Lately, though, Moyer has struggled to recapture the early-summer touch and pinpoint control that turned him into one of the league's toughest starters. Tuesday night, he failed to escape the second inning and left the Orioles in a 4-0 hole. The Orioles rallied for a 13-8 victory.

That rough outing came on the heels of another forgettable bTC night. In last Friday's series opener against the Boston Red Sox, Moyer was lifted in the third inning after allowing seven earned runs that marked the beginning of an 8-7 defeat.

In the past week, Moyer's ERA has climbed from 3.25 to 4.37. Is it a slump, or is Moyer simply looking more like the journeyman that his 41-59 career record says he is?

"It all comes down to pitching ahead in the count," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "Jamie has gotten behind a lot of hitters lately, and he's had to come in with his fastball.

"But Jamie will be all right. He's very confident, and the ballclub likes playing behind him because he works fast, throws strikes and, good or bad, something is going to happen."

Moyer says he feels fine physically, and judging by the way he shrugged off his past two starts, his confidence appears intact.

"I've had maybe four bad starts this year out of about 20 [actually 23, including Rochester]. That's not bad," Moyer said.

"It doesn't feel like arm fatigue. I've thought about it a little bit, but I'm not going to go banging my head against the wall. I just have to keep doing the things I did at Rochester that got me here in the first place."

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