Orioles' ups and downs

July 26, 1998|By Joe Strauss

Men in black high-tops -- UP -- At the moment Scott Erickson possesses the Orioles' most lucrative contract. At the moment he is also their best pitcher. The only starter to make every turn, Erickson almost single-handedly kept the rotation from drowning. Now Jimmy Key and Scott Kamieniecki are healing. Mike Mussina is again effective. Suddenly, five years for $32 million doesn't sound ridiculous.

Super Webby -- UP -- Part-timer Lenny Webster, the club's second-lowest paid position player ($665,000), has 19 RBIs and four home runs in his past 22 games. Contributions from him, Chris Hoiles and Eric Davis -- none everyday players -- have driven the Orioles' resurgence.

Rafael Palmeiro -- UP -- He won't "do a Brady." Some insist he recites his stats in his sleep. He can sometimes brood. Palmeiro may be guilty on all counts, but he can also carry a team. How can the Orioles replace him? They can't.

Doug Drabek -- DOWN -- Drabek may be the most stand-up guy in the clubhouse. But his breaking pitches are missing in action. If Key or Kamieniecki can again become effective and the Orioles close a deal, Drabek may not last the summer.

The .500 Club -- UP -- The Orioles returned to break-even Thursday night after a 61-game absence. Rarely has mediocrity looked so bad (a 28-48 skid to end the first half) or so good (now 14-2 since the All-Star break). We're not sure, but somebody may have complimented Ray Miller on WBAL the other night.

The ancient left-hander -- UP -- Jesse Orosco made his 1,000th career appearance yesterday. Only five have done it before him. None will likely do it again. At 41, he remains Kryptonite to left-handed hitters.

Pub Date: 7/26/98

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