O's pitchers outrank hitters

April 20, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

In the case of the Orioles, statistics deceive.

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond has been working the phones in quest of pitching help and manager Johnny Oates takes comfort in his set batting order, strong from top to bottom.

Anyone who knows enough about baseball to distinguish a double play from a stage play could tell you the Orioles' offense is better than their pitching.

Yet, a look at where the Orioles stood among American League teams in the two most relevant statistics in baseball, runs and runs allowed, reveals that 11 games into the season, the contrary was the case.

The average runs scored per game heading into yesterday's American League schedule was 5.7 per team. Through 11 games, the Orioles were averaging 5.18 runs, a half run below the league average, and were allowing 4.82 runs per game, nearly a full run below the league average.

"I think the perception is we've scored more than we've scored and we've given up more than we've given up," Oates said.

The perception is such because in a normal season, the Orioles' numbers would identify them as a team with pitching problems.

This, of course, has been anything but a normal season in baseball. California Angels manager Buck Rodgers is among those who subscribes to the juiced ball theory.

Oates' explanation?

"Why is [Texas' Kevin] Brown off to his start?" Oates said. "Why is [Kansas City's Kevin] Appier off to his start? Why is [Chicago's Jack] McDowell off to his start? Why are so many aces off to starts like that? Are the hitters that much better? Don't ask why. Just enjoy it if it's to your benefit."

Streak endures

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro lost his errorless streak Sunday night only to have it reinstated after the official scorer changed his call a few innings later.

Left-hander Sid Fernandez caught Texas' Ivan Rodriguez breaking for second to steal a base and threw to Palmeiro, who bounced a throw past covering shortstop Cal Ripken. Rodriguez later was credited with a stolen base.

Palmeiro agreed with the scoring revision.

"It's a stolen base all the way," Palmeiro said. "Just like if a catcher's throw bounces. If the runner doesn't get an extra base, there is no error."

Thus, Palmeiro stretched his streak to 125 games last night.

"I take pride in my fielding," Palmeiro said. "It's something I work hard on every day. I think my defense is overlooked."

Part-timer happy

Angels left fielder Bo Jackson only starts against left-handed pitching, which hasn't kept him from being a fan favorite in Anaheim.

"I have accepted the role of being a platoon player," Jackson said. "At least I am playing and that's more than a lot of people thought."

Jackson said that if his play merited full-time status, his artificial hip would not prevent him from filling that role.

"If it ever gets to that, I will walk off gracefully," he said. "You don't have to be strong physically to play this game. It's more mental than anything."

Can we go home now, dad?

The Orioles' four-hour, four-minute Sunday night game at Texas was the longest in the majors this season. Saturday's lasted 3:41.

The solution to shortening games?

"Put a timer on the scoreboard between innings and set the clock as soon as the last out is made," Oates said. "Not an umpire holding a stopwatch, a clock on the scoreboard so everyone can see it.

"I don't think the fans would complain about a four-hour game if there were four hours of action. It's a four-hour game with two hours of action they don't like."

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