O's glad McDowell wasn't lost, too Nailed by come-backer, he's OK for Angels series

June 01, 1996|By Drake Witham | Drake Witham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SEATTLE -- Despite watching his bullpen blow two late-inning leads in Wednesday's 9-8 loss to Seattle, pitching coach Pat Dobson expressed relief over the loss the Orioles did not incur.

The services of middle reliever Roger McDowell.

McDowell suffered a contusion on his left shin while stopping a sharp come-backer off the bat of Edgar Martinez in the seventh inning. It forced him out of the game, but he was in uniform and ready to pitch last night as the Orioles opened a three-game series with the California Angels.

That made the three runs his relievers allowed in the final three innings easier for Dobson to swallow.

"Day in and day out he's in the games," Dobson said. "Overall he's been the most important guy on this staff, starters included."

McDowell, 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in a team-high 23 appearances, relieved starter Mike Mussina in the seventh with one out, runners on second and third and a 7-4 lead.

The first batter he faced, Martinez, rocketed a ball off his shin.

"I saw the ball come off the bat and the next thing I knew the ball was on the ground in front of me," McDowell said.

The right-hander gathered up the ball and got Darren Bragg in a rundown between third and home. After McDowell applied the tag at the plate he bent over in pain.

Orioles trainer Richie Bancells came out and inspected the hobbling pitcher while he threw one warm-up pitch. McDowell's next pitch landed deep in the left-field bleachers as Jay Buhner knotted the score with his 18th homer.

"Roger unfortunately got flat," Davey Johnson said. "[He] got a little banged up and then he didn't make a very good pitch to Buhner and he hit it nine miles."

McDowell retired Paul Sorrento to end the inning but his leg tightened up and he left the game.

With his shin tightly taped after the game, McDowell downplayed the impact of the injury.

"It's a little sore, but it didn't have anything to do with the pitch to Buhner," McDowell said.

The Orioles regained the lead in the top of the ninth on an error, but closer Randy Myers -- making his first appearance in 11 days -- gave up two runs on four hits in the bottom half of the inning. His ERA jumped from 2.16 to 3.12 as the Orioles lost for the first time this season when leading after seven innings.

It was the third game out of the five high-scoring games the teams have played this year that was decided by one run.

"We've played some knock-down, drag-out games, like two heavyweight fighters," McDowell said.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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