On Friday the 13th, it's getting scary

KEN ROSENTHAL

August 13, 1993|By KEN ROSENTHAL

DETROIT -- Today is Friday the 13th.

And it might get worse.

The New York Yankees lead the league in hitting and rank second in runs. They're batting .381 against Jamie Moyer. And the Orioles' bullpen is down to Mike Kinnunen, wherever he might be.

"You wanted football back in Baltimore, you got it," left fielder Brady Anderson said. "The Colts lost to the Lions, 17-10."

Actually, it was 17-11, Tigers over Orioles, but even though he drove in the final run, forgive Anderson for losing count.

Mind-boggling as yesterday was -- and we'll get out the calculators in a moment -- the Orioles are still only 2 1/2 games out of first place entering a pivotal weekend series in New York.

Alas, that fact would be more comforting if their pitcher tonight wasn't Moyer, who has worked a total of 10 innings in his last three starts and could be the next to get knocked out faster than Jesse Ferguson.

The past three Orioles starters have combined to work five innings and allow 21 runs for a 37.80 ERA. Ben McDonald allowed nine runs Tuesday, but considering that Rick Sutcliffe and Fernando Valenzuela got only four outs between them, that was a quality start.

The bullpen is so depleted, assistant general manager Frank Robinson said yesterday that the chances are "very good" of the Orioles recalling two pitchers from Triple A in time for tonight's game.

The leading candidates are left-hander John O'Donoghue and right-handers Jeff Williams, Mike Oquist and Kevin McGehee -- all of whom meet the first criteria as members of the Orioles'

40-man roster.

That roster is full, so if the Orioles promote any other pitcher, they will be forced to designate a player for assignment. Pitcher Erik Schullstrom suffered that fate when the club added Anthony Telford, and could be lost on waivers.

O'Donoghue is scheduled to pitch for Rochester tonight, so it's likely he'll be scratched and sent to New York to join the Orioles. Oquist pitched Monday, McGehee on Tuesday and Mike Bielecki on Wednesday. Thus, Bielecki probably is out of the picture.

It won't be difficult for the Orioles to create spots. They can demote Telford and Damon Buford. Or, they can keep one of those players and -- with catcher Chris Hoiles set to return to the lineup -- drop Mark Parent or Jeff Tackett.

Want a scarier possibility?

They could disable Gregg Olson.

Olson, suffering from a sore elbow, returned to Baltimore after yesterday's game to be examined by club physician Charles Silberstein. Robinson said it's possible he could go on the DL, retroactive to Sunday. That would mean he would be out at least 10 more days.

Gulp.

Whatever happens, the Orioles need a big effort tonight from Moyer. Both Jim Poole and Todd Frohwirth said they will be available to pitch, but Alan Mills (64 pitches yesterday) and Mark Williamson (78 the past two days) probably won't be available until Sunday.

It's a crisis all right, but if Olson returns quickly, it's nothing from which the Orioles can't recover. The clubhouse was surprisingly upbeat yesterday. What could anyone say? The Tigers are a team with devastating offensive potential, and suddenly they can do nothing wrong.

To think, Cecil Fielder drove in only one of Detroit's 47 runs the past three days. It was the highest three-game total against the Orioles in their 40-year history. Earlier this season, they went 16 games without scoring that many runs.

Forty-seven runs in three games -- or 24 innings, to be exact. It has been at least eight years since a team managed that feat. The Orioles made four errors yesterday, not that it mattered. As Kirk Gibson said, "it could have been worse."

Manager Sparky Anderson actually started his "B" team -- no Tony Phillips, no Mickey Tettleton, no Chad Kreuter. Of course, those three entered the game in the sixth inning, and Kreuter broke an 8-8 tie with a pinch-hit grand slam off Poole.

"They hit some mistakes, but they also hit some pretty good pitches," said Tackett, who stuck to catching yesterday and made a throwing error.

"They came out and kicked our butts. They hit the ball."

The Orioles scored 16 runs in the past two games and were routed in both. Yesterday, they lost even though six players had multi-hit games, even though Mike Devereaux hit his second homer in two days, even though every starter but Tim Hulett drove in at least one run.

"Unbelievable, wasn't it?" second baseman Harold Reynolds asked.

Yes, but today is a new day.

Friday the 13th.

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