Banner day for bullpen, save 1 pitch Five relievers stymie potent lineup for 6 innings


July 29, 1996|By Kevin Langbaum | Kevin Langbaum,SUN STAFF

For six innings yesterday, Orioles relievers did a collective Harry Houdini impression, escaping several jams while shutting down the powerful Cleveland Indians.

Five relievers combined to pitch scoreless baseball, striking out nine, until Jim Thome's two-out, game-winning homer in the 13th.

"It's one of those days when we get a chance to prove why we belong here and step up," said Rick Krivda, who struck out two in 1 1/3 perfect innings. "We did our job today."

Until the end, anyway.

The bullpen, short-handed with injuries to Arthur Rhodes and Roger McDowell, had to match its Cleveland counterpart, which shut down the Orioles for the last seven innings. Orioles pitchers made good pitches when they needed to, and benefited from some good fortune as well.

"We did all we could do," said Jesse Orosco, who took over with two on in the seventh inning and retired Kenny Lofton. "[The Indians' relievers] did the same thing."

Randy Myers, who had not pitched since July 21 in Boston, entered in the ninth with the score tied, an unusual situation for him. Two infield hits, a throwing error by Myers and a walk loaded the bases, but Myers came back to strike out the next three batters.

"He's done that pretty much all his career," manager Davey Johnson said.

In the 10th, Myers found himself in another unusual spot, pitching a second inning. After an out and a walk to Albert Belle, Julio Franco hit into what turned out to be a peculiar play.

Franco hit a fly ball headed for the scoreboard. Right fielder Bobby Bonilla went back to attempt a catch, but the ball hit the wall about two feet above Bonilla's glove. Then the ball bounced right into Bonilla's glove and Belle, who had to wait to see if the ball was caught, was forced at second.

"That was a freak thing," pitching coach Pat Dobson said. "I've never seen that before."

"And you probably never will again," Bonilla added later.

Pinch hitter Mark Carreon then lined a double off the wall in the left-field corner, but Franco, just off the disabled list for a strained hamstring, was unable to score from first base. A walk loaded the bases, but Myers escaped again.

Two innings, three hits and three walks for Myers. But more importantly, no runs.

"He threw the ball a lot better today," Dobson said of Myers, who blew a save in his previous appearance. "There were just a couple of freak plays in that inning."

After Krivda got Thome to pop up leading off the 12th, Johnson wanted a right-hander to face slugger Belle. He brought in rookie Garrett Stephenson.

Belle has 35 home runs and was hit by Stephenson on Thursday night. But Stephenson was confident.

"I was thinking if I hit my spots I can get him out," he said.

Ground ball to B. J. Surhoff. Two outs. Back-to-back singles put the right-hander back in a jam, but he got Manny Ramirez to fly to center.

"He threw the ball good," Dobson said of his rookie right-hander. "He made one bad pitch to Thome and that's it."

That pitch, with runners on second and third, two outs and Belle waiting on deck, was a hanging curveball on a 2-2 count. Thome made it disappear into the left-field stands.

With it went the Houdini impression.

Pub Date: 7/29/96

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