Orioles look to Rhodes to give bullpen a break

April 21, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Arthur Rhodes makes a third attempt at his first victory of the season tonight as the Orioles conclude a three-game series against the California Angels.

If the young left-hander is going to be successful, he could help himself by providing a break for a bullpen that is either overworked or at least temporarily overmatched.

Last night, the Angels won 8-2, erupting for six runs in the ninth inning, all but one charged to relievers Alan Mills and Brad Pennington -- and all of them scoring after the departure of starter Mike Mussina.

After sitting out the first week of the season, Rhodes will be making his third successive start tonight. He lasted only three innings in his 1994 debut against the Texas Rangers April 10, then went five-plus innings against the same team five days later.

"I'm starting to feel comfortable," said Rhodes, who went 11 days without pitching under game conditions prior to his first start.

Despite their rocky starts, and rude reception last night, Orioles manager Johnny Oates said he won't hesitate to call on either Mills or Pennington if they are needed.

"They'll be in their same roles, and if the situation calls for it I won't hesitate to use either of them," said Oates. "But I might have to use Alan shorter than usual because he threw a lot of pitches.

"There's no reason why these guys shouldn't get hitters out. They've done it before, and they'll do it again."

Ideally, Rhodes would give Oates the rare luxury of going directly to closer Lee Smith, who has converted seven straight save opportunities and got a needed rest last night when a tie game quickly unraveled.

A win tonight would enable the Orioles to win two of three games for the third straight series. They haven't done that since last Aug. 31-Sept. 12, when they won four in a row, beating Oakland twice, the Angels and the Seattle Mariners.

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