Oates likes look of Mills' mean streak Reliever's efforts see O's to 2 wins

August 25, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

He's already got a stare that would make Dave Stewart proud, but Alan Mills is still working on his credentials.

He came to the Orioles last year as a potential starter, but had his success as a long reliever. Now, with Gregg Olson on the disabled list, he's the closest thing the Orioles have to a pitcher who fits the accepted mold of a closer.

For the second time in four games, Mills was the last pitcher used by the Orioles last night. And for the second straight time, his team came away the winner.

Even though he gave up an infield hit and a walk, Mills earned his first save of the season against the California Angels, pitching a scoreless ninth inning to protect a 1-0 win for Jamie Moyer.

"He can consistently throw the fastball 90 mph and he's got a hard slider," said pitching coach Dick Bosman of Mills (3-3, 3.60 ERA). "Plus, he's quick to the plate, so you can't take liberties running the bases on him."

And then, there's the stare.

"Yeah, he's got the look," said Bosman. "Maybe we can cultivate the rest."

Mills, however, doesn't necessarily look at himself as Olson's temporary late-inning replacement.

"It's a bullpen by committee," said the right-hander.

"Just because it was me tonight, doesn't mean I'll do it tomorrow night," said Mills, who is a man of few words.

Manager Johnny Oates stopped short of saying Mills was Olson's principal replacement. But he left little doubt he feels comfortable with the way Mills has thrown the ball in his last two outings.

"Primarily, I'm just going to go for matchups," said Oates. "I feel very comfortable with any of those three guys [Mills, Todd Frohwirth and Jim Poole].

"But they [the Angels] had the middle of the lineup coming up [in the ninth inning] and if one of those guys hit a home run to tie it, I would rather it be against Mills than Jamie."

What that translates to mean is that Oates felt the odds weighed more in his favor with Mills than they did with Moyer, who had already faced the Angels' lineup three times.

In his previous outing, Mills worked four innings to get a win over the Texas Rangers last Saturday night. Oates said at the time he thought it was as good as Mills, who was 10-4 with a 2.61 ERA last season, has thrown in the two years he's been with the Orioles.

"I don't know if it's mental or physical, I can't put my finger on it," said Oates. "But, he's just been so aggressive.

"He threw 66 quality pitches three nights ago and he still was able to come back and throw 93 mph. When you can throw it 93 mph that hopefully takes care of any lack of command.

"What we've seen the last couple of times he's pitched is pretty much what we saw last year," said Oates. "He's letting it go and throwing enough strikes."

And for the time being, until Olson is ready to return, Mills appears to be the main man for the late innings.

There's no question he has the qualifications -- the fastball, the slider and the stare.

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