7 straight wins ease March madness

March 20, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It seems like only yesterday that "March Madness" was another way of saying the Orioles were 2-for-the-month and making a lot of people nervous.

But now, after beating the Minnesota Twins, 11-9, yesterday for their seventh straight win, the Orioles have a 9-9 exhibition record. So the diehards back home can turn their attention to college hoops for a while and put aside their baseball worries.

The latest win wasn't as ugly for the winners as it might appear, though the relief pitching did have a late-inning relapse. With Chris Hoiles (two) and Cal Ripken (one) hitting home runs, the Orioles had 11 hits and built an 11-2 lead after the sixth inning.

Todd Frohwirth, who is experiencing a rough spring while trying to retain his job in the bullpen, gave up an unearned run in the seventh inning, but was unable to retire a batter in the eighth, when the Twins scored three times.

Left-hander Brian DuBois pitched out of that jam, getting two strikeouts and an infield grounder, but he gave up back-to-back homers to Bernardo Brito and David McCarty in the Twins' three-run ninth.

Carey out six weeks

Paul Carey, a replacement for Rafael Palmeiro at first base yesterday, suffered a nondisplaced fracture of his left forearm and is expected to be out six weeks.

He was hurt in the seventh inning trying to catch a wide throw from Terry Jorgensen that sailed inside the base. Mike Durant, the batter on the play, ran into Carey's arm, forcing it backward.

Frohwirth's spring not in bloom

Orioles manager Johnny Oates acknowledged after yesterday's game that these have not been the best of times for Frohwirth (12.46 ERA in 8 2/3 innings), but said he wouldn't judge the veteran solely on his performance this spring.

"This has been one of those springs for him," Oates said. "Everything that could possibly go wrong, has. But I'll take the whole picture into consideration.

"He's busted his butt for us, done a good job and been very loyal. I'm not going to disregard what he's done for this team. But, at the same time, I can't give him a job based solely on what he's done in the past."

Kelly envious of Oates

When Tom Kelly saw Oates for the first time this spring, the Twins manager had his quip book ready for his Orioles counterpart.

"Where are the buttons? You just got to push the right buttons," said Kelly, an obvious reference to the Orioles' off-season spending spree for free agents.

"I want to be just like T.K. [Kelly] and not screw it up," replied Oates. "But I've only got one button. They got me an offense button, but I don't have a pitching button."

Twins' ERA bumped up

In the four games before yesterday's, the Twins had a team ERA of 1.29. And during the previous five games their starters had a 1.57 ERA.

But right-hander Pat Mahomes, who gave up eight hits and eight runs (seven earned) in the first two innings, put a torch to those numbers. Mahomes, projected as the Twins' No. 4 starter, has given up 21 hits, 14 earned runs in 12 innings and has allowed five homers.

Ochoa goes 4-for-5

Alex Ochoa, who could be the Orioles' next super prospect, had four hits in five at-bats yesterday. He's hitting .625 (10-for-16) in his limited appearances this spring.

"A lot of guys get three hits, but only a few very good ones get four in one game," Oates told Ochoa after the game. The Orioles manager is of the belief that Ochoa will one day classify among the very good.

Ripken had three hits, raising his average to .324 (12-for-37).

Mussina to start today

Mike Mussina will make his fourth start of the spring this afternoon, facing Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Ben Rivera. Mark Williamson, who has been impressive in his bid to reclaim a bullpen job, will follow Mussina to the mound.

Tomorrow the Orioles will enjoy their only day off until April 3.

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