Breaking marathon tape a joy to Orosco


Record holder just glad fly ball stayed in park

elbow keeps Clark sitting

August 19, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

A black and orange reminder of Jesse Orosco's historic appearance on Tuesday stretches above the facing of the upper-level press box at Camden Yards. It reads: "Congratulations Jesse," serving as the latest tribute to baseball's all-time leader in games pitched.

Orosco passed Dennis Eckersley in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 8-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins, retiring Todd Walker on a deep fly to center field for the last out in his 1,072nd trip to the mound. Brady Anderson, who made the catch, gave Orosco the ball. Plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth handed him another.

"He said, `I figure you probably want an extra ball since it happened kind of quick,' " said Orosco, who threw only two pitches.

How appropriate that a man who has worked out of the bullpen for so long also finds relief in having the record secured. "I'm very happy it's over just so I don't have to chase it anymore. It's nice to get something like that under your belt," he said.

"I was very happy that it happened at home."

He was just as relieved that the ball didn't carry a little farther. Anderson was driven to the warning track before hauling it in and preserving a one-run lead.

"I would have been crushed if it had gone out," Orosco said.

His mother, Tomasa, was among the family members who attended the game. She's certain that his father, who died at age 54, was there, as well.

"She goes, `It looked like it was out for a minute, but I think Dad brought it back in,' " Orosco said.

The Hall of Fame has requested any items Orosco is willing to pass along. Most likely, the contributions will include his jersey and a ball. He also will make a donation to the Babe Ruth Museum here.

Orosco got to double his pleasure by reliving the moment when he returned home Tuesday night.

"My family was still wide awake so we had some fun with it, talking a little bit more. My kids were still excited about it. It's definitely a nice remembrance," he said.

The Orioles will honor Orosco with a ceremony before tomorrow night's game. Asked if he expects a new car, Orosco said, "It'll be a 10-speed bike or something. They'll say, `We got you some wheels. It only has two.' "

Elbow still `biting' Clark

Still experiencing discomfort in his elbow when he throws, first baseman Will Clark was kept out of the lineup for the fourth straight game and replaced by Jeff Conine.

Clark has been able to swing the bat "but it's still biting him when he throws," said manager Ray Miller.

"We'll give it another day or so."

Conine went 1-for-3 and also is hitting .333 (30-for-90) in his last 28 games, with eight doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs. He had his second four-hit game this season, and the 11th of his career, in Tuesday's victory.

Not bad for someone who was expected to be used mostly as a fill-in at first base, the outfield and DH. Last night's start was his 69th this season, the 56th at first base.

"He's always been a good hitter, but he's done a remarkable job," Miller said.

Miller sets Linton goals

Miller said he expects Doug Linton to arrive in Baltimore by tomorrow morning at the latest before starting Saturday's game against Chicago.

Linton is being recalled from Triple-A Rochester to serve as the club's fifth starter. He made eight appearances with the Orioles earlier this season before being sent down on May 15.

What is Miller looking for from the veteran right-hander?

"Seven good innings would be nice," he said, before bringing his hands together as if in prayer and tilting his head back.

"For three years here now, including '97 when we went wire-to-wire, we haven't really had an established fifth starter."

Since July 2, Linton has gone 6-1 with a 2.14 ERA, walking seven and striking out 59 in 63 innings. He was 0-1 with a 6.17 ERA with the Orioles, including two starts.

Don't blame them now

The Orioles' bullpen has been cited as a major contributor to the club's disappointing season, but it has posted a 2.81 ERA in the past 24 games. Though still leading the majors with 20 blown saves, the unit hasn't failed to convert one since July 7, a stretch of six in a row.

Miller credits the additions of Al Reyes and Jim Corsi for helping to stabilize the bullpen. Reyes has given up only one run in seven appearances covering 10 innings. Corsi has retired 13 of 14 batters in his five appearances.

"Last year our middle men basically were Terry Mathews and [Norm] Charlton and it took both of them to get out of one inning," Miller said. "And that's what was going on back in April and May."

Figga to get start

Mike Figga is expected to make his 13th start behind the plate today to provide a rest for Charles Johnson, who is 1-for-18 his past five games.

Miller said he's hopeful that Figga will play this fall or winter since he's had only 42 at-bats this season, none with the New York Yankees before being claimed off waivers by the Orioles on June 3.

"He's a good defensive kid who can catch and throw," Miller said. "He's contributed. He probably would have played a few games more if Brady hadn't been down three days and [Cal] Ripken down a few days and you start chopping offense out of the lineup."

Around the horn

Eddie Murray and Frank Cashen will be inducted into the Orioles' Hall of Fame before Sunday's game. Anderson went 0-for-4, ending his 13-game hitting streak. Albert Belle went 0-for-3 against LaTroy Hawkins and is 3-for-20 (.150) lifetime against him.

Super sub

With a sore elbow benching Will Clark, Jeff Conine has stepped up at first base:

D Opp H/AB R BI Ex

8/14 Cle 2-3 1 1 HR

8/15 Cle 0-4 0 0

8/17 Min 4-4 2 1 2B HR

8/18 Min 1-3 1 1 2B

Tot 7-14 4 3 2 HR

2 2B

Pub Date: 8/19/99

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