Kamieniecki 'very surprised' by removal Johnson defends decision to lift right-hander after 5

Orioles sidelight

September 15, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Scott Kamieniecki thought he had weathered the storm. Then manager Davey Johnson rained on his parade.

Kamieniecki labored through the fourth inning, when the New York Yankees sent eight batters to the plate and scored three times. The right-hander threw 29 pitches, many of them while reliever Arthur Rhodes warmed in the bullpen, but finished strong by retiring Chad Curtis on a fly ball and striking out Jorge Posada to strand two runners.

He breezed through the fifth and had every intention of continuing, but Johnson called on Rhodes to begin the next inning.

In the blink of an eye, a 3-1 Yankees lead swelled by three runs. And Kamieniecki, who had retired nine in a row before Wade Boggs' fourth-inning ground-rule double, was staring at his first loss since July 25.

Kamieniecki was visibly upset when told that his night had ended after 77 pitches. And he hardly was appeased when Rhodes gave up consecutive doubles to Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams before being replaced by Alan Mills, whose first pitch was launched into the left-field seats for a two-run homer by Curtis.

"Surprised? Yeah, I'd say that would be an appropriate response. I was very surprised," Kamieniecki said after New York's 8-2 victory at Camden Yards.

"There were four or five batters where they scored their runs. Other than that, I pretty much held them in check. It's a two-run ballgame in the sixth inning. That's a pretty good game, I thought. You'd have to ask Davey for his reasons for that."

Johnson was being careful with Kamieniecki, who had to leave his last start in Cleveland after six innings because of stiffness in his right biceps -- a sign the manager read as a tired arm.

"I didn't want to take a chance of pushing him," Johnson said. "Kammy is too valuable to me to let him go out there and throw 100 pitches after what he went through in Cleveland. I'm sure he didn't agree with that, but I still feel it was right. He's been too consistent, too good, and I was going to give him a breather."

As for Kamieniecki's reaction, Johnson said, "He's just a competitor. I wouldn't expect it any other way."

Knowing the Orioles were facing consecutive day-night doubleheaders, beginning today, Kamieniecki said he was trying least to get into the eighth and spare the bullpen.

"It's a pride factor with starters," he said. "You only play once every five days anyway, so you try to get at least in the eighth inning. I was trying to do that, but didn't get a chance to do that.

"Maybe Davey made a good decision, maybe he didn't. I don't know. I'm not going to second-guess him. I would have liked to go longer, [but] he saw it differently."

Kamieniecki again was seeking to become the fifth Oriole to reach double-digits in victories, joining Scott Erickson (16), Jimmy Key (15), Mike Mussina (14) and Rhodes (10). He had three straight no-decisions, and five in his last seven outings.

He allowed a leadoff single to Derek Jeter in the first inning, then cruised until the fourth, when he gave up four straight hits and a walk. He had permitted just one ball to leave the infield after Jeter's single until Boggs' double.

"He got behind and everything got flat," said pitching coach Ray Miller. "He was rushing a little bit. He was just getting out a little quick and getting behind in the count."

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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