Still, it was another overpowering performance by Mussina, who has been striking out batters at an unprecedented rate. He came into the season with 760 career strikeouts in 1,137 innings, or an average of one strikeout every 1.5 innings. He maintained about the same pace through the early weeks of the season, but his strikeout ratio has increased as the Orioles have moved deeper into summer.
Since the beginning of May, Mussina has averaged about one strikeout per inning, and over the past three weeks, he has stepped up the pace even more. In his past five starts, he has struck out 48 in 38 1/3 innings, including 12 Milwaukee Brewers on June 25 and 14 Detroit Tigers in just seven innings July 5.
The White Sox obviously noticed the difference. Mussina struck out leadoff hitter Norberto Martin on a check swing to open the evening and got Frank Thomas and Belle looking to close out the first inning. He didn't strike anyone out in the second or third, but blew away five of six batters -- including Thomas and Belle -- in the fourth and fifth.
The eight strikeouts increased his season total to 135 in 138 2/3 innings, behind only Randy Johnson, David Cone and Roger Clemens in the American League rankings.
Opponent: Chicago White Sox
Site: Camden Yards
Time: 1: 15 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: White Sox's Doug Drabek (6-7, 6.80) vs. Orioles' Scott Kamieniecki (6-4, 3.98)
Tickets: About 200 remain
Pub Date: 7/19/97