New type of Oriole streak: Two whitewashes in a row

August 03, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Orioles are in the midst of another streak and Cal Ripken has nothing to do with this one.

This streak is not as startling as Ripken's, but startling nonetheless.

After going 139 games without a shutout, the Orioles pushed their shutout streak to two games last night, defeating the Minnesota Twins, 10-0, in front of 21,364 spectators at the Metrodome.

Mike Mussina, who twice shut out the Twins last season, pitched seven shutout innings last night, allowed four hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter.

Mark Eichhorn pitched a scoreless eighth and Alan Mills pitched the ninth to complete the Orioles' first back-to-back shutouts since Fernando Valenzuela and Jamie Moyer achieved the feat June 30 and July 1, 1993.

Mussina (15-5, 3.10) nearly made it halfway to Kenny Rogers country, losing his perfect game when Kent Hrbek led off the fifth by lining a changeup to center field for a single.

The combined six-hitter came the night after Arthur Rhodes beat the Twins, 1-0, on seven hits.

Mussina, who threw 103 pitches, didn't complain about not getting the shot at a shutout.

"They asked me if I was concerned with it and I wasn't," Mussina said. "It was a situation where Arthur threw a complete game and we have some guys who need some work. You would have to have a pretty big ego if you say, 'No, I want to go for the shutout.' "

Mussina sported a swollen left ankle after the game, the result of being hit by a ball off the bat of Kirby Puckett, but he said it was not a factor in his coming out.

Orioles manager Johnny Oates said denying Mussina a chance at a shutout was not a factor in his pitching change decision.

"That's not the goal on this team," Oates said. "We're playing to win, not to pitch a shutout. By cutting him off there, maybe he'll be stronger for the next start."

Unfortunately for the Orioles, Mussina's next start will not be against Minnesota. The Orioles handed the Twins their fifth consecutive loss and 16th in 21 games.

Good thing Minnesota's American League entry is not the Triplets. They play more than enough bad baseball as Twins. Just imagine how difficult they would be to watch if they were Triplets.

Considering their opponent, the Orioles didn't need to be nearly as good as they were last night at the Metrodome in Cal Odyssey 2,001.

RTC In a classic case of overkill, the Orioles backed Mussina's pitching with three long, bases-empty home runs and 11 hits.

Twins right-handed reliever Erik Schullstrom, twice traded by the Orioles, helped make this an even easier victory by committing a throwing error that allowed three runs to score.

As many runs scored on that 60-foot hit as scored on three home runs that traveled more than 1,200 feet.

Chris Sabo hit a home run estimated at 412 feet off Twins starter Carlos Pulido (3-7, 6.01) and Brady Anderson and Jeff Tackett (a double, three RBIs) took reliever Mike Trombley 407 and 404 feet, respectively.

L Mussina improved his record on turf to 4-0 with an 0.89 ERA.

"I guess I'll have to become a free agent, then," Mussina said with a smile. "My numbers aren't too good in small ballparks are they?"

For now, Mussina is the Orioles' property and for that they are grateful.

Especially Tackett, who started his third game in the past four because of Chris Hoiles' sore knees and groin.

"My job is to catch Mike Mussina and that's what I was concentrating on tonight," said Tackett, who will not start the series finale. "I'm more happy catching a shutout than getting any hits. Mike again had every pitch working, was hitting his spots. It was just a real strong effort."

After two games at the Metrodome, the Twins have advanced only one runner as far as third base against an Orioles pitching staff that has not allowed a run in 21 consecutive innings.

Sabo made his first start since last Friday's "organizational decision" that Leo Gomez is the club's third baseman now and in the future.

Sabo, the designated hitter as Harold Baines rested against the left-hander, hit a massive bases-empty home run over the fence in left-center on Pulido's 1-0 delivery in the third inning.

Sabo's 11th home run gave Mussina a 5-0 lead with which to work.

Sabo has been mum on his benching and Oates has not questioned the chain of command in the organization.

"My authority as the manager has not been undercut," Oates said. "We're in this thing together. We've all got the same goal. We sit down and talk about things throughout the season. We discuss player movement and player procurement. I don't agree with everything they say and they certainly don't agree with everything I say.

"It's no different this year than in the past. I don't know of any organization where one guy makes all the decisions. That would be a bad organization, in my opinion."

Assistant general manager Frank Robinson, the front-office representative on this 10-game road trip, concurred with Oates that Sabo has not been a bad clubhouse influence.

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