Arthur Rhodes continues to impress the Orioles with his return to form.
Rhodes spent almost all of the second half on the disabled list with inflammation in the top of his pitching shoulder, but retired the only two batters he faced in the regular-season finale and did the same in yesterday's 10-4 American League Division Series win against the Cleveland Indians.
A month ago, Rhodes believed his season was over after getting a cortisone shot for the pain, and he was packing to return home when manager Davey Johnson convinced him to stick around.
Yesterday, Johnson saw the fruits of the conversation.
"I thought he was outstanding," Johnson said. "I just have to be very careful I don't overwork him right now. He's only thrown a couple times on the side and faced a couple of hitters."
Johnson said he knew Rhodes would be a big asset to the Orioles in this series, because he can shut down some of the left-handed hitters in the Indians' lineup.
Rhodes is happy to be back.
"I was pumped up," Rhodes said. "I feel good. I'm happy. It's a good start, I've just got to keep it up."
Mike Milchin, who said he wasn't upset about being replaced on the roster by Rhodes, will stay with the team throughout its playoff run.
Zeile back in swing
Todd Zeile's third-inning single broke an 0-for-30 slump.
Zeile was one of the Orioles' hottest hitters after being acquired from Philadelphia, but he struggled down the stretch after hurting his back in New York two weeks ago.
"It was a relief," Zeile said of the hit. "Obviously, I was struggling, but actually I started feeling quite a bit better the last couple of days in Toronto. I'm trying to get back to where I was and get my mechanics back."
Zeile also singled in the fourth inning and ended up 2-for-4 in his first career playoff game.
Johnson cautious on Mills
Johnson said he still was concerned about the health of Alan Mills, but the reliever, who is recovering from a strained groin muscle, said he was ready to pitch yesterday.
"He's feeling better, but he's not to the point where I feel comfortable about him coming in," Johnson said. "Until I can get him up to where I want and see him pushing off in the 'pen and jumping out of there, I'm not going to put him in."
Mills received treatment after yesterday's game, and Johnson said he would re-evaluate the reliever's status today.
"I'm getting better, but I can't say I'm 100 percent," Mills said. "I don't think I was not available to pitch [yesterday]. I was shooting to return [yesterday]."
About 1,000 tickets remain
Approximately 1,000 club level tickets to today's game will go on sale at the Orioles box office at 9 this morning.
Yesterday, four sections of left-field seats were unused because the American League returned the tickets to them too late to be put on sale.
Warm Puckett greeting
Kirby Puckett, who spent much of the summer in Baltimore BTC getting treatment for his eye before it eventually forced him retire, was at yesterday's game.
Puckett was shown broadcasting the game on the video scoreboard in the middle of the fifth inning, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Puckett said he was just happy to be at the game, and not necessarily playing in it.
"I'm just a fan, man," Puckett said. "I'm at all the games. You'll never see me play again. I had fun, but I'm 1,000 percent sure I'll never play again. I'm loving life."
A voice from Johnson's past
Marge Schott, the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, sent Johnson and his wife Susan a fax congratulating them on yesterday's win. Johnson managed the Reds to the National League Championship Series last year, but was fired after the season ended.
Schott was forced by Major League Baseball to refrain from the day-to-day operations of running the Reds. The fax was on Reds stationery and had a paw-print from her dog Schottzie II.
On a grand scale
Bobby Bonilla's grand slam was the first such postseason homer by an Orioles non-pitcher. The two previous Orioles grand slams were by Dave McNally in the 1970 World Series and Mike Cuellar in the 1970 AL Championship Series.
Erickson: Tired and ready
Johnson said Scott Erickson threw in the bullpen for 40 minutes Monday to get himself tired for today's start.
Johnson said Erickson, a sinkerballer, pitches better when he's tired because it helps him keep the ball down, resulting in more ground balls and fewer home runs.
Late season call-ups Brent Bowers, Nerio Rodriguez, Cesar Devarez and Eugene Kingsale are not on the postseason roster, and they all left Baltimore yesterday.
Kingsale, the first Aruban to play in the big leagues, began playing in the Florida instructional league yesterday, and faced live pitching for the first time since hurting his shoulder in May.
Bowers, Devarez and Rodriguez will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Bowers is looking forward to meeting his teammates, including major-leaguers Mariano Duncan, Henry Rodriguez, Tony Fernandez and pitchers Pedro Martinez and Ramon Martinez. "That's going to be a great lineup to be a part of," he said.
Leyland not in Down's way
With former Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland apparently headed either to Florida, Boston or the Chicago White Sox, Orioles batting coach Rick Down has improved his chances of getting the managerial job in California.
Pub Date: 10/02/96