Walk helps end Myers' run of success Frye's base on balls starts winning rally by Red Sox

Sidelight

July 08, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

No closer is perfect.

Some have dabbled with perfection at times, like Dennis Eckersley in the late 1980s or Jose Mesa last year.

But, inevitably they all make mistakes. Everyone gets hit hard at least a couple of times a year.

Orioles closer Randy Myers' turn came last night.

The Boston Red Sox clobbered Myers for three hits in two-thirds of an inning last night, the most painful of which was a three-run, game-winning homer by Mo Vaughn with two outs.

Myers retired the first two batters he faced before walking weak-hitting Jeff Frye. John Valentin singled, bringing Vaughn, last year's American League MVP, to the plate.

Vaughn's 457-foot homer to center was the second-longest in Camden Yards history. After yielding a triple to Jose Canseco, Myers was finished, having blown his fourth save of the year.

"Randy's pitched awfully good for us this year, but with two outs, to walk a guy hitting .230 on five pitches, you can't do that," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. "[Stuff] is going to happen. But you gotta get that guy [Frye]. You can't walk him. If he gets a double or a home run, then so be it."

Myers said a closer must be flawless when inheriting a one-run lead. It's not always easy to deliver.

"With a one-run lead you have to go out there and you don't have any room for error," Myers said. "You've got a one-run lead, so you've got to be fine-tuned."

For 10 years Randy Myers overpowered National League hitters, compiling 243 saves. And Myers did equally well in his first swing through the American League despite last night's result.

He has 18 saves at the All-Star break, which puts him on pace to surpass the 30-save plateau for the fifth time in his career. Myers' 3.26 ERA is better than his season-ending mark in four of the previous five years.

Plus Myers has 42 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings this year. He has at least one strikeout in 25 of the 27 outings in which he has pitched at least one inning. He has 20 strikeouts in his past 10 2/3 innings.

Myers doesn't throw as hard now as he did when he was a 25-year-old phenom with the New York Mets. He's compensated for that by locating his pitches better and changing speeds more.

"He's probably a better pitcher now than ever," reliever Jesse Orosco said. "When he was younger he would just let it go, like a lot of hard throwers do. Now he can mix it up. He's established the corners of the plate. He doesn't just try to blow it by guys anymore."

Orosco has watched the evolution closely. Myers would question Orosco and Roger McDowell, already established pitchers, when they were with the New York Mets in the mid-1980s. Myers was still learning his craft and craved information about how to pitch in certain situations.

Now the three veterans, reunited in Baltimore, continue to chat. McDowell and Orosco know the AL hitters well and Myers, 33, is again playing the role of the rookie.

"I bugged them a lot, but I was getting knowledge," Myers said. "We still talk all the time. We go to the scouting reports together. We're still learning a lot from each other."

Pub Date: 7/08/96

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