Relievers in middle of successful run

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

May 20, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer Staff writer Milton Kent contributed to this article.

Generally speaking, the less you hear about relievers who don't close games, the better they are pitching.

Tom Bolton, Mark Eichhorn, Alan Mills, Mike Oquist, Jim Poole and Mark Williamson haven't been stealing any headlines lately, which means they haven't been blowing any games.

"As a whole, they've thrown as well lately as they have all year," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "I think it's time to pat them on the back a little. We really get down on them when they don't get the job done. I think we should pat them on the back when they do get the job done."

Closer Lee Smith has been producing all season. Now he has plenty of company.

The Orioles bullpen has allowed two runs (one earned) in 24 1/3 innings in the past nine games starters needed relief.

During that period, Oates has abandoned having relievers adhere to roles and has made pitching changes based on matchups.

"They are more comfortable having roles, but as long as you win, that's the bottom line," Oates said. He can sympathize with players wanting their roles defined.

"I was a bench player," Oates said. "I sure appreciated being told the day before when I was going to be used."

Poole, for one, prefers longer outings than coming in to face one batter, as he did last night.

"I think it makes it more difficult to get out of a slump when you are only facing one batter at a time," Poole said. "I don't personally prefer that type of method, but if that's what he's going to do, we're going to have to make it work."

Hammonds, Sabo getting close

Jeffrey Hammonds still felt pain in his right knee cutting turns in a pre-game workout yesterday, but he said he is "getting close" to returning.

"Jeffrey's saying New York, but I think Milwaukee is probably more realistic," Oates said, referring to the Monday-through-Wednesday series against the Brewers.

Third baseman Chris Sabo batted twice yesterday in an extended spring training game in Florida and is scheduled to play seven innings today and nine innings tomorrow.

"I just want to see if he can go back-to-back nine innings without it blowing up," Oates said. "That's the thing I want assured before we activate him."

Power outage

The Orioles could manage only four extra-base hits in the three- game set against Boston.

Harold Baines homered in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 3-2 win, and doubled in the sixth Wednesday night off Aaron Sele. Mike Devereaux doubled to center in the first last night and Rafael Palmeiro extended his hitting streak with a bloop double in the eighth last night to account for all the extra-base hits in the series.

Turnstile count

The Orioles lead the majors in total attendance with 981,415 through 21 home dates. Toronto trails Baltimore in the attendance count by 16,502.

Catching on

Catonsville's V. J. Carfine had a very good night at Camden Yards, nabbing three foul balls, two off the bat of Leo Gomez, in Section 34, just to the right of home plate in the lower deck.

Carfine, 30, caught all three using a glove loaned to him by his friend, Jim Geier, who owns the season tickets.

Trade completed

Jeff Manto was named the player to be named in the Mike Cook transaction of April 20 to the New York Mets.

Manto, 29, a right-handed-hitting third baseman/first baseman, was batting .263 with 20 runs, six doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs in 36 games for Triple-A Norfolk.

Around the horn

Since returning after being hit in the head by a line drive, Rochester left-hander Brad Pennington has pitched 8 2/3 no-hit innings, walked 11 and struck out 22.

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