The Orioles tied their own American League record yesterday when Mike Mussina pitched the team's fifth straight shutout.
"They can't beat you if they don't score," Orioles manager Phil Regan said.
The only thing the shutouts changed were the record books, tying the 1995 Orioles with the AL record set Sept. 2-6, 1974, by Ross Grimsley, Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Cuellar again. All five of the 1974 shutouts were complete games.
This week, four of the five shutouts -- Mussina (twice), Scott Erickson and Kevin Brown -- were complete games. Ben McDonald, Jimmy Haynes and Jesse Orosco combined for a two-hitter Saturday.
Mussina, who threw a two-hitter of his own yesterday, did not put much stock in these late-season victories, which represented the Orioles' longest winning streak of the season.
"It's easy to play with no pressure," Mussina said. "Our problem this year was that when the pressure was on -- top of the eighth, two men on, two outs -- we just didn't get the job done."
Mussina, next season's probable Opening Day starter April 1 against Kansas City, will have a chance to push the team's shutout streak to six. That would tie the major-league record set by the Pittsburgh Pirates June 2-8, 1903.
"I just got done a half-hour ago and you guys are already asking about next year," Mussina said. "Thanks."
Mussina, rightfully so, has a lot to be proud of this season.
He achieved a career-high 19 wins, leading the American League and tying Atlanta's Greg Maddux for the major-league lead.
Mussina also led the American League with four shutouts, two of which he pitched back-to-back (the first time since Arthur Rhodes did it Aug. 1 and 6, 1994), and one more than Cy Young Award favorite Randy Johnson.
"I personally think he should be a candidate for the Cy Young Award," Regan said. "He pitched well all year and today he was outstanding."
Mussina (19-9) finished the year with a 3.29 ERA, started 32 games, completed seven and struck out 158 (vs. 50 walks) in 221 2/3 innings. But he disagreed with his manager's assessment, discounting himself from Cy Young consideration.
"Absolute not," Mussina said, handicapping his chances. "I think the Cy Young has to be consistently solid from beginning to end. I had a slow start. Randy Johnson, [Jose] Mesa, and David Cone have had very good years."
Gimme an O
The Orioles tied a club and American League record by recording their fifth consecutive shutout yesterday. The major-league mark of six was set by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903.
The pitchers in the Orioles' efforts:
* Sept. 2-6, 1974: 1, Ross Grimsley; 2, Mike Cuellar; 3, Jim Palmer; 4, Dave McNally; 5, Cuellar.
* Aug. 26-Oct. 1, 1995: 1, Mike Mussina; 2, Scott Erickson; 3, Kevin Brown; 4, Ben McDonald, Jimmy Haynes and Jesse Orosco; 5, Mussina.