O's need more from starters Wells, Erickson have 2 wins since April 16

June 02, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Davey Johnson looks at his starting rotation and sees that only one member, Mike Mussina, has a winning record. The club ERA is 5.35. The bullpen desperately needs one or two more relievers to establish themselves.

"And we're one game out of first place," Johnson said yesterday. "I'm trying to figure it all out."

What he and everybody else connected with the Orioles believes is that if this team is going to continue contending in the AL East, it will need more from Nos. 2 and 3 starters David Wells and Scott Erickson, who have combined for two wins since April 16.

Wells, who missed about 10 days because of bursitis in his big toe, is 3-5 with a 5.21 ERA, and was pounded for nine runs in 3 1/3 innings in the Orioles' 10-3 loss to California on Friday. Erickson, out for about two weeks with a sprained ankle before starting against Seattle last week, is 2-4 with a 5.20 ERA.

"I think the fact they've both missed about two weeks has had its effect," said pitching coach Pat Dobson. "Boomer [Wells] came back and pitched well the first time, but the last two times hasn't been too good. Scotty came back and threw four innings, and I'm not too sure he didn't run out of gas. Within the next couple of starts, they should both be better. We certainly haven't gotten much production from them."

On Friday night, they didn't get much of an effort from Wells. He didn't like a couple of calls made by plate umpire John Hirschbeck early in the second inning, and after he allowed a three-run homer to Rex Hudler -- Hudler's fourth in four games against the Orioles this year -- on an 0-1 curveball, Wells began to exchange words with Hirschbeck.

Pitcher and umpire continued to talk after the inning, until Johnson interceded, but after that, Wells pitched with obvious indifference to the point that Johnson pulled him in the fourth inning.

"I started getting behind," Wells said. "I got frustrated and started throwing bad pitches."

Dobson said, "It was embarrassing. For a guy with as much experience as he has, having pitched at this level, to get let a couple of bad calls by the umpire affect the whole game.

"You can't let it affect your concentration and intensity when you go after the hitter. It shouldn't happen. It's mind-boggling."

Wells said, "I was just a little frustrated. It goes back to those [ball-strike] calls. You can't let it bother you. I wouldn't give up, no way, but you've got to go out and hold them close."

Johnson said yesterday, "David's an intense competitor, and for whatever reason, last night was a little bit different. I asked Dobson [in the dugout], why isn't he throwing the ball? . . . I've never seen him do that. I was looking at a competitor that really wasn't focused, and I kept thinking he was going to [get better]."

Sparky Anderson managed Wells in Detroit, before becoming a broadcaster this year. Anderson said in a pregame interview with WBAL last night that, "David is an outstanding person. I'm going to knock him over the head for [Friday night]. . . . The one thing David does is not be totally ready and focused for that night's game."

Catcher Chris Hoiles went to the mound once to talk to Wells, Anderson said, and he commented on the air that Hoiles "is talking to himself, because David's not listening.

"David has to understand, and you have to jump him all the time, that he's got to attack the plate."

Orioles today

Opponent: California Angels

Site: Anaheim Stadium

Time: 4: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Scott Erickson (2-4, 5.20) vs. Angels' Jim Abbott (1-8, 6.82)

Late O's game

Last night's Orioles-Angels game at Anaheim Stadium in California did not end in time to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions. For a report on last night's game and other Orioles information, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800, ext. 5023 (in Anne Arundel County, call [410] 268-7736, ext. 5023).

Pub Date: 6/02/96

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