Red Sox, O's duke it out right up to end of 9-8 loss Myers is unconcerned by Mitchell's HR in 9th

Orioles notebook

March 30, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Games between the Orioles and the hitting a bases-empty mashing a two-run homer off starter David Wells, and Wil Cordero hitting a three-run bomb.

The Orioles came back with six runs in the seventh inning, Brady Anderson and Chris Hoiles hitting homers -- the fifth of the spring for each. The Orioles took an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but two runners reached base against closer Randy Myers and Mitchell hit a three-run homer with two outs, and Boston prevailed, 9-8.

Earlier in the week, the Red Sox were talking about leaving Mitchell in Florida for a while to work on his hitting. But that was before he hit four homers in his last two games.

"It didn't take him long [to get ready]," said Orioles manager Davey Johnson. "Mitchell can hit, in spring training or the regular season. You get behind on him and throw him a fastball over the plate, you can forget it. No doubt."

Myers said his concern yesterday was to throw his fastball with more velocity, "and I did. I got in all the work I need. . . . My job today was to stretch out my fastball, and that's what I did. If I had struck him out, it wouldn't have made a difference."

Wells allowed 11 hits and six runs in six innings, but felt good about his progress. He and Johnson mentioned they thought the home plate umpire, a minor-league ump, wasn't calling a good strike zone. "That was probably the best outing I've had," Wells said, "velocity-wise and mechanics-wise."

Johnson still picking O's

The day Johnson was introduced as manager of the Orioles, he said the team was going to win the division this year. That was before the Orioles signed Roberto Alomar, Myers and B. J. Surhoff and traded for Wells and Kent Mercker.

"I'd always pick me," he said. "I don't care what anybody else would say. I'd pick me. I'm a pretty good salesman, and usually everybody ends up agreeing with me."

All salesmanship aside, however, Johnson foresees a very tight race in the AL East. "Based on what I know," he said, "the Yankees and Boston should be slightly favored ahead of us. Based on their track records.

"Probably the best overall balance, pitching, defense and good offense, probably would be New York. Boston -- [pitcher Aaron] Sele's comeback is really important for them. I'm not familiar with the Rocket [Roger Clemens] or Tim Wakefield, but anytime you've got a nine-hole hitter who bats .307 [Tim Naehring], you're in pretty good shape. They're pretty offensive-oriented.

"Defensively, we should definitely be better than the Red Sox and Yankees. I haven't seen the Yankees that much, but I don't see many clubs in the AL having a better defensive club than us."

Tough finish for Haynes

Rookie Jimmy Haynes, the Orioles' No. 5 starter, completed a generally awful spring performance Thursday, allowing 11 hits and 12 runs -- all earned -- in six innings against Atlanta.

Haynes had a 9.78 ERA in six spring appearances, allowing 33 hits and 11 walks in 23 innings. He's not scheduled to pitch again until he starts against the Minnesota Twins a week from tomorrow, but Johnson wouldn't rule out the possibility of using him out of the bullpen Monday or Wednesday.

"He hasn't done a lot of relieving in his career," Johnson said. "He's always been a starter. Unless I know way in advance, I fTC probably wouldn't. I'd want to give him the proper time to warm up. But I wouldn't hesitate to use him."

Praise for Hammonds

Johnson was asked which players really helped themselves this spring.

"I've really been impressed with Jeffrey Hammonds," Johnson said. "He's worked very hard. I'd say he'd be No. 1, then Manny Alexander and B. J. Surhoff. I didn't get to see B. J. play a lot [in the past], but he's my kind of player. He's a foxhole guy, a guy who's going to pay attention all the time. . . . [Scott] Erickson throws the ball better than I thought he would."

Around the horn

There are certain guys who hit great in Florida, but nowhere else. Like former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair, Johnson said. "We thought about planting palm trees up in Baltimore for him," Johnson said. . . . The more Johnson sees AL clubs, the more he sees that they're "offensive-oriented. As Frank Howard would say, 'big, hairy-chested guys.' " . . . Barring any more setbacks, pitcher Alan Mills will throw off a mound in about a week to 10 days. Mills, coming back from shoulder surgery, suffered from inflammation in his shoulder a month ago and probably won't return for at least another month. Johnson says he isn't going to set any timetables for Mills. "Because if I do," he said, "then Millsy will try to beat it." . . . Orioles pitching prospect Billy Percibal was scheduled to have surgery on his elbow yesterday; report on the operation was not available. Percibal was either going to have a ligament in his elbow strengthened or replaced, but either way, he isn't expected to pitch , who will be used as an extra catcher today. . . . Mercker will follow Erickson today.

Ups and downs

Highlights and lowlights from the Orioles' 9-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox yesterday:

Ups

Brady Anderson and Chris Hoiles each hit their fifth homer of spring training.

Bobby Bonilla had three hits.

Cal Ripken had two hits and two RBIs.

Roger McDowell threw two scoreless innings.

Downs

Starter David Wells allowed 11 hits and six runs in six innings. Wells finishes spring training having allowed nine homers and 20 runs in 27 innings (6.67 ERA).

Closer Randy Myers gave up a game-winning three-run homer to Kevin Mitchell in the bottom of the ninth inning.

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