Myers' difference proves first-week delight for O's Closer has his quirks, but also 4-for-4 results

April 08, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Orioles closer Randy Myers packs a lot of activity into one short inning of relief. He motions to his infielders, positions his outfielders, talks constantly with catcher Gregg Zaun, calls timeout to paw at the rubber or to drop on one knee to tie his shoes.

" 'Different' is a good word," said Orioles utility man Bill Ripken. "The first time he pitched in spring training, he went to tie his shoes. He went down to tie them, realized they were tied, picked up his glove and came back up."

Different is a good word for what Myers accomplished the first week of this season. Late-inning leads never seemed safe in 1995, but Myers has converted all four of his save chances with the Orioles, the latest coming in the 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins yesterday.

He is converting in near-perfect fashion. In four innings, Myers has allowed just one hit, and that a 20-foot roller in front of home plate. Against the Twins yesterday, he got a couple of flyouts before striking out Roberto Kelly to end the game.

Myers makes "an immense difference," said Mike Mussina, who has watched Myers save his first two wins. "Not only is he saving games, but he is doing it efficiently.

"Randy's been coming in and getting the job done. He's been doing what they paid him to do."

Myers, said first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, "has been coming in and overmatching people. As long as we have the lead, you can give it to the bullpen and they'll close the door."

Zaun, a late-inning defensive replacement for catcher Chris Hoiles, has been behind the plate for all four of Myers' saves. They seem to be developing as a tandem, like Hekyll and Jekyll, Jekyll and Hyde, or the Blues Brothers, and are communicating well.

"I like his attitude on the mound," Zaun said. "He doesn't mess around. He doesn't try to trick anybody. He works fast. He knows what he wants to do, which is fine with me.

"He's the only guy who shook me off in the bullpen."

Something that has helped Myers a lot, he says, is the presence of veteran setup men Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco, both of whom were teammates with Myers in New York. Myers, new to the American League, often asks Orosco and McDowell for scouting reports on hitters; he did so as he warmed up alongside Orosco before the ninth inning yesterday.

More so, the stability that Orosco and McDowell have as setup men means that Myers is being used for one inning and one inning only. As the Twins rallied in the eighth inning yesterday, Orosco and McDowell warmed up in the bullpen, not Myers, who didn't start throwing until after the Twins batted in the eighth.

"We know we have two guys," Myers said, "who we can depend on in that situation. We really have three closers -- I think we have something like 530 saves between the three of us."

And four in the first six days of the 1996 season. Different.

Pub Date: 4/08/96

Case closed

Closer Randy Myers has been just about perfect in his first week with the Orioles:

Date ..... Opp ... IP .. H .. ER .. K .. SV .. NP

April 2 .. K.C. ... 1 .. 0 ... 0 .. 1 ... 1 .. 10

April 4 .. K.C. ... 1 .. 1 ... 0 .. 1 ... 1 .. 12

April 5 .. Minn ... 1 .. 0 ... 0 .. 3 ... 1 .. 15

April 7 .. Minn ... 1 .. 0 ... 0 .. 1 ... 1 .. 14

Totals ... .... ... 4 .. 1 ... 0 .. 6 ... 4 .. 51

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