Tackett unmasks his pitching ability

August 12, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Jeff Tackett hasn't played much this season, but 1993 is turning out to be an eventful year.

He made his acting debut in a major motion picture ("Dave") this spring and last night made his major-league pitching debut in the Orioles' 15-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium.

Tackett pitched a scoreless eighth inning to spell the bullpen after the Tigers ran up 15 runs against Orioles pitching for the second night in a row. He even looked good doing it.

"I've pitched before," Tackett said. "I pitched in high school. I wasn't going to just go out there and throw it 50 mph and let everybody hit it. I'm competitive. I wanted to get three quick outs and get off the field."

Manager Johnny Oates apparently wasn't kidding. He said before last night's game that Tackett might have the fourth-best fastball on the team, but no one figured that the Orioles reserve catcher would get a chance to prove it so soon.

Oates was relating a story about a minor-league game in which Tackett's fastball was clocked at 92 mph.

"How soon can we see it?" Oates was asked.

"Hopefully never," he replied.

Never showed up in a hurry. Tackett made the first pitching appearance by an Orioles position player since infielder Todd Cruz took the mound in 1984.

Is this a new career in the making? Maybe not, but Tackett got the job done. He gave up one hit and one walk and left the mound with a major-league ERA of 0.00. The only hit was a bloop single by rookie shortstop Chris Gomez that fell in shallow right center field. In two appearances at the Triple-A level, Tackett also was unscored upon, so he has a scoreless innings streak working.

The Orioles needed a hand in the bullpen because starter Rick Sutcliffe lasted only two outs in the first inning. Oates used newcomer Anthony Telford for 3 1/3 innings and used a back-sore Mark Williamson for three before deciding not to waste any more relief pitching with an afternoon game today.

"That's not a very good sign when the only pitcher with no runs behind his name is your catcher," he said.

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