Erickson makes success simple

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Surge stands in contrast to his 1-8 start to season

September 13, 1999|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

The 1-8 start that weighed as heavily over Scott Erickson as one of his sinkers has become a subject he no longer cares to touch.

"I've been over that a hundred times," he said to a reporter after yesterday's complete-game, 4-1 victory over Seattle. "Check your notes."

Better to check the numbers.

Erickson is 12-3 with a 3.63 ERA over his past 19 starts. He's gone the distance in his past two outings and has tied teammate Sidney Ponson for the American League lead with six complete games.

His only mistake among his 116 pitches yesterday was turned into a home run by David Bell leading off the fourth inning. Seattle managed only two more hits, and Erickson retired 10 of the last 11 batters.

"I went out and tried to throw strikes, keep the ball down, make them put it in play and try not to throw too many pitches and let them get a good look at everything," he said. "They're a pretty good hitting ballclub and the less pitches they see, the better chance I have. Luckily, I kept it close to the zone."

Erickson made it sound so simple. It appeared so difficult the first two months of the season.

"At the time he was just up with everything," said manager Ray Miller. "When you're not down consistently and you get the ball up, you get hurt. He's been sawing people off pitching in as good as he's ever pitched in probably the last seven or eight starts. And he's fielding his position. That's quite an effort."

Call-ups in lineup

Before Miller could complete his lineup yesterday, he had to check on two recent call-ups who were dealing with minor ailments.

Center fielder Eugene Kingsale enjoyed his first three-hit game in the majors Saturday despite playing with a tender quadriceps. And second baseman Jerry Hairston has been bothered the last few days by a sore toe on his right foot that he ices before and after games.

Both rookies were deemed fit to play. Hairston went 0-for-4 and Kingsale singled in three at-bats.

"I just wanted to make sure they were 100 percent," Miller said. "You've got to be careful with kids. They could have a bone sticking out and they're not going to say anything because they're getting a chance to play."

Kingsale, whose two-run single in the eighth inning Saturday was the difference in the Orioles' 4-2 victory, is hampered slightly by a knot in his quad.

"It's something they'll have to work out. It's something he's been playing with for a month and a half," Miller said.

Hairston likened his ailment to turf toe. "It's painful but I've been getting treatment," he said. "I want to be in the lineup. I'll do everything I can to stay."

Getting Riley ready

Miller again is keeping expectations at a modest level for Matt Riley's second major-league start Wednesday against Oakland.

"I'll put him out there and hope he gets two good innings, three good innings, four good innings. Probably, if he had five good innings, I'd hook him," Miller said.

Miller said Riley's fastball and curve are major-league caliber, but he wants the former third-round draft pick to throw his changeup more -- a pitch still in the developmental stages. Riley used it only twice Thursday.

Proving he belongs

Another rookie, infielder Jesse Garcia, views his remaining time with the Orioles this season as a chance to prove he belongs in the majors next spring, with the possibility of a utility role opening up if Jeff Reboulet isn't brought back.

"This is an opportunity to make an impression," said Garcia, 25, who began his professional career as a second baseman but has been moved to shortstop to make room for Hairston.

"It's out of my hands what's going to happen next year. We'll just have to wait and see. But I've got to go out and play hard. I'm just glad to be up here, and whatever I can do to help the team win, whether it's playing third base, second, short, the outfield, whatever. I'll do anything."

Around the horn

A sixth-inning single left Cal Ripken 19 hits shy of 3,000 with 19 games remaining. Miller, on the certainty that Mike Mussina will start tomorrow: "I changed the pencil to ink."

Complete efforts

Scott Erickson's complete game yesterday was his sixth of the season, tying teammate Sidney Ponson for the American League lead, and the Orioles' American League-best 17th. The AL leaders by pitcher and by team:

Pitcher, team ................................CG

Scott Erickson, Orioles................... 6

Sidney Ponson, Orioles ...................6

David Wells, Toronto .......................5

Chris Carpenter, Toronto ................4

Pedro Martinez, Boston ..................4

Mike Mussina, Orioles .....................4

Omar Olivares, Oakland ..................4

Brad Radke, Minnesota ..................4

Jose Rosado, Kansas City ..............4

Team ............................................CG

Orioles ...........................................17

Toronto ..........................................12

Minnesota ......................................12

Kansas City ......................................9

Pub Date: 9/13/99

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