Millwood burned by early heat

Orioles Sidelight

Orioles' 1st-inning power sets tone vs. right-hander

June 13, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Judging by the way Kevin Millwood was using his fastball in the first inning yesterday, Orioles manager Ray Miller jumped to the obvious conclusion that the Atlanta right-hander wanted to come after his club.

"Sometimes that's a good idea," Miller said later. "Sometimes it's not."

As it turned out, Millwood would have been better off avoiding them altogether.

The Orioles hit three homers off him in the first inning, including consecutive shots by Brady Anderson and Mike Bordick to begin the game. Will Clark joined the fray, and by the time pitcher Juan Guzman took the mound, he had been given a four-run cushion that proved ample.

"Our offense came out swinging. That's a great start for anybody," Miller said after a 5-0 victory at Turner Field.

Said Clark: "Anytime you can go out there and have a big inning early, it takes a lot of pressure off your pitching staff. It allows your pitcher to go out there, throw strikes and get comfortable on the mound."

Anderson's leadoff homer was his fourth this season and the 33rd of his career. He got ahead, 1-0, before drilling a fastball into the right-field seats, the 11th time he has gone deep this season.

Three pitches later, Bordick was following Anderson's tracks around the bases. He fell behind 0-2, then was fed a breaking ball that appeared to sit on a tee in the center of the plate.

After getting burned like that, it's no wonder Millwood wanted to stick with his heat.

"It just stayed up in the middle of the plate more than he wanted it to," Bordick said. "Fortunately, I got the good part of the bat on it."

It was the fourth time in Orioles history that they've led off a game with back-to-back homers. The previous time was June 8, 1995, against Seattle, by Anderson and Kevin Bass. It also occurred June 23, 1988, in Toronto, and July 9, 1992, vs. Minnesota.

"In the first inning, Brady's been rolling lately," Bordick said. "To add a few more in that inning was great. And of course, what Guzman did today was awesome."

What Clark did in the first inning hadn't happened since April 15 in New York. He went after a first-pitch fastball from Millwood after Albert Belle had singled and launched it into the Braves' bullpen in right-center field for his fourth homer.

"It looked like he was trying to go away and he just left it over the plate," Clark said.

It marked the second time this year the Orioles had collected three homers in the same inning. Bordick, Delino DeShields and Charles Johnson connected off Willie Blair in a May 8 loss in Detroit.

Clark said the power display by Anderson and Bordick didn't alter his approach as he stepped in against Millwood. "Especially against a guy you've never seen before," he said.

"When I go up there, I'm going more on how they pitched me yesterday more than what the guys in front of me have done."

Clark was hitting .370 before going on the disabled list retroactive to April 19 with a fractured left thumb. Since returning May 25, he's batting .226 and insisting he's "not close" to returning to his previous form.

"Consistency is missing. I'm still in that spring training mode -- one good swing, one bad swing," he said.

He had a good one off Millwood, who had given up only six homers before yesterday, then reached half that total before breaking a sweat.

"I've been living on the outer third [of the plate] and the inner third," he said. "Today I was right down the middle."

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