Guzman seeks innings, answers

Orioles Sidelight

Lifted starter to ask Miller: `What is the problem?'

June 07, 1999|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

As ragged as his five innings looked, as tenuous as the Orioles' 5-1 lead seemed, Juan Guzman wanted more.

More pitches, more innings, more work.

"I need to pitch as much as I can to get out of the jam I'm in right now," the veteran Orioles pitcher said over and over yesterday.

Guzman got 79 tense pitches on a day when manager Ray Miller's patience inched closer to exhaustion. And when the Orioles' bullpen poured kerosene on the brushfires that Guzman had set, they got an 11-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The answers will have to come later.

"Basically, I need to talk to him [Miller] to figure out what is the problem," Guzman said. "I'm just here to help the team win."

Miller made it clear that Guzman's performance left a lot to be desired.

"Obviously, Guzman was skating on real thin ice," Miller said. "I was holding my breath the whole time. He wasn't real sharp. I couldn't wait to get [Doug] Johns in."

Johns started the sixth inning, but lasted only four batters. By the time the carnage was over, the Phillies had their biggest inning of the season and the Orioles had fallen through that thin layer of ice.

After giving up a first-inning run, Guzman escaped bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth innings. Two Phillies base runners were rubbed out at home. Ten of the Phillies' first 17 batters reached base. They had nine hits off Guzman.

But in the fifth, thanks to a double-play grounder, he faced just three batters.

Guzman was asked afterward if he thought he pitched badly enough to be pulled after five innings.

"I don't think so," he said. "The fifth inning was my best inning.

"My command was getting better. I'm the type pitcher that the longer I go, the better my command. I know I'm struggling with my control. The only way to get out of it is to get some [more] work."

Catcher Charles Johnson found solace in the fact that while Guzman wobbled, he didn't collapse.

"They could've had some big innings on him, but he kept his poise," Johnson said. "He battled and got us some innings. Without having his best stuff, I thought he did a pretty good job."

Once Miller pulled Guzman, he needed four more pitchers to finish the game. The manager's biggest complaint afterward was a reluctance on the part of his pitchers to back the Phillies off the plate.

"When people start banging on you, you've got to move somebody," Miller said. "You can't be 3-and-1 on everybody."

Guzman took exception to the charge.

"I wasn't doing it as much as I'm capable of doing," he said. "You need to do that when you have command. Why waste a pitch when you're trying to get ahead?

"I don't think anybody here is afraid to pitch inside. But in order to pitch inside, you've got to get ahead first. He's a [former] pitcher. He knows that."

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