Jays pay for releasing Eichhorn

SIDELIGHT

June 26, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Mark Eichhorn made his way in from the bullpen and the press box announcer at SkyDome made the customary announcement.

"Now pitching for Toronto, Mark Eichhorn."

Oops.

Eichhorn pitches for the Orioles. Had he remained with the Blue Jays, they wouldn't be experiencing all the bullpen woes they are at the moment.

The day after the World Series parade, the Blue Jays let Eichhorn know officially he would not be asked back. They wanted to make room for a younger pitcher to fill that role.

Scott Brow, that younger pitcher, returned to Triple-A Syracuse last week.

Eichhorn? In his past 20 appearances, he has allowed two earned runs in 31 innings, a stretch that started May 4. Signed as a middle reliever, Eichhorn has filled that role and then some for the Orioles.

He pitched two shutout innings in the Orioles' 4-1 win over the Blue Jays yesterday to become the winning pitcher for the second day in a row.

Early in the season, Eichhorn was asked to do his thing, then hand the baton to Alan Mills and left-hander Jim Poole, who would hand it to Lee Smith for the anchor leg.

"He's eliminated the get-to guy," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "He's been so effective he brings us all the way to Smitty."

Eichhorn (4-1, 2.06 ERA) leads Orioles relievers with 39 1/3 innings pitched and 31 have come in the last 45 games.

The more often Eichhorn pitches, it seems, the more effective he is.

"His last 20 outings, he's been as good as anybody in the American League," Oates said. "I just keep bringing him in and he keeps saying I'm OK."

Eichhorn, 33, broke into the big leagues at the age of 21 with Toronto before returning to the minors. He pitched for the Atlanta Braves and California Angels before returning to the Blue Jays in 1992.

They let him walk after last season as a means of reducing their payroll and paving the way for younger arms.

Normally, a pitcher in Eichhorn's role has little to show in the way of tangibles. The saves go to the closers, the wins to the starters. But for two days in a row, Eichhorn came into 1-1 games and earned the win.

"Hey vulture, where we going tonight?" Sid Fernandez called to Eichhorn.

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