Locating old form is Driskill's aim tonight

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Missing fastball has led to 1-3 spiral

Mora back after brother-in-law dies

Notebook

July 23, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

With his next start coming tonight, Orioles pitcher Travis Driskill hopes to have solved the problems that keep interrupting the readings of his storybook season.

Driskill has lost three of his past four starts, dropping to 6-3 as a rookie contributor to the Orioles' redesigned rotation. A career minor-leaguer before reaching the majors at age 30, Driskill has allowed 16 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings during his three defeats.

Most recently, Driskill gave up five runs and eight hits at SkyDome in Toronto, leaving after four innings in the Orioles' 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays. He struggled again to locate his fastball, an issue that didn't arise earlier in the season.

"When I first got here, I was able to locate it. Right now I can't even locate half of the plate," he said.

Driskill recognizes the ripple effect that occurs, and it keeps knocking him out of games earlier than he'd prefer. He hasn't made it past the sixth inning in his past two starts, including a 6-0 loss to Oakland on July 13.

"The off-speed stuff has been fine," he said, "but when I have to start throwing it in there for strikes early in the count, they can lay off it when they see it down, whereas before, if I was throwing the fastball for strikes, then I didn't have to throw it so close to the zone. It would be at the bottom of the zone and then fall out, and they'd swing and miss or not put good wood on it."

Poor mechanics were especially evident in his last start. Driskill couldn't keep his throwing arm in its proper slot, with his shoulder flying open and the ball tailing away.

"I think a lot of that is from nibbling with the fastball because I know I haven't been able to control it and I don't want to leave it down the middle. I'm aiming where I want it to go, and I think that's part of it," he said.

"It might be so slight, but enough that it causes me to go off."

Mora back after tragedy

Melvin Mora rejoined the team yesterday after leaving Sunday to drive his wife, Gisel, to New York following the death of her brother.

Oscar Alvarado, 23, was killed in an early-morning traffic accident in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. Mora couldn't find a sitter for his quintuplets and received permission from the club to miss the game.

"My wife is staying over there until Wednesday," Mora said. "She's trying to take care of everything. I came back last night. I dropped her off and stayed with the babies in the house."

Unaware that his wife was on the phone when given the news, Mora said, "I heard her scream in the house and thought it was something with the babies."

It's been a difficult year for Mora's family. He left the team during an April series in Tampa after learning that his brother, Jose, was murdered in Venezuela.

Around the horn

Former Oriole Dave Schmidt has been named pitching coach at Double-A Bowie. Schmidt, who replaces Tom Burgmeier, also will retain his duties as minor-league pitching coordinator. This is the second coaching change at Bowie since the break. Dave Stockstill replaced Dave Cash as manager. ... The Orioles signed their third-round draft pick, outfielder Val Majewski of Rutgers University. Majewski, 21, will report tomorrow to Single-A Aberdeen.

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