Bullpen brings mix of old, new to big games Less experienced relievers don't worry Johnson

Sidelight

September 19, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Jesse Orosco's big-game experience includes getting the final out of the 1986 World Series and tossing his glove toward the heavens as his New York Mets teammates celebrated.

Archie Corbin's most pressure-filled game was a basketball contest with a rival high school.

Such is the nature of the Orioles bullpen as the last 11 days of the pennant race unfold.

A few relievers, such as Orosco and Randy Myers, have a ton of big-game and postseason experience. Others, such as Corbin, Terry Mathews, Armando Benitez and Alan Mills, will be counted on in the clutch, too. But those relievers must reach back to high school or the minor leagues to recall competing with everything on the line.

Despite the lack of postseason experience, manager Davey Johnson said the bullpen's recent outings have given him reason to be confident with his bullpen going into today's big doubleheader with the New York Yankees.

Before last night -- when he gave up the hit that scored the tying run in the ninth and took the loss in the 10th -- Mills had retired the last 18 batters he had faced. Mathews pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday to get his first Orioles win. Benitez has struck out 16 of the 39 batters he's faced this season and Corbin wasn't scored on in his first eight outings after being recalled in early August.

"No, [their inexperience] doesn't scare me," Johnson said. "It would scare me more if they had different names, but it doesn't scare me the way those guys are throwing."

That doesn't mean Corbin, Mathews, Benitez and Mills aren't above a little advice.

Pitching coach Pat Dobson hopes his playoff veterans share their experiences with the less experienced relievers.

"Even if you've been there before, you still get some jitters in your head," Dobson said of Orosco and Myers, who walked two batters in one-third of an inning and was charged with the tying run in the ninth last night. "That's the same with all of them. But for the guys that have been there before, it won't last as long. I'm sure they will talk to the other guys and help them handle the pressure."

Orosco, who pitched a scoreless eighth last night, said he always tries to lighten the thick atmosphere of the bullpen, especially in September and October, while keeping his focus on the game.

"If I like the way a guy is throwing the ball, I always make a point to tell him," Orosco said. "That's important. I also tell them to keep loose and that it's a good idea to stretch if they might be in in a few innings. Just little things to pass on."

Corbin hopes to get his first taste of pennant excitement, and some words of wisdom from Orosco, in the Bronx.

"I heard the crowd was pretty intense [Tuesday] night," Corbin said. "You hear the stories about the fans here. I think it's going to be a really wild series."

Pub Date: 9/19/96

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