Finley is making the most of his regular 'audition'


Manager Frank Robinson said last week that he wanted t determine whether Steve Finley, Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux could be everyday outfielders. So far, Finley is building the strongest case.

Last night he hit his second homer to give the Orioles their onlrun in a 2-1 loss to Detroit at Memorial Stadium. He is now batting .268, compared with Anderson's .249 and Devereaux's .244.

It appears likely the Orioles will part with at least one of theithree young outfielders this winter, and their choice probably will come down to Finley or Anderson, the two lefthanded hitters.

Anderson is in a 7-for-45 slump, and has not walked or stolen base since Aug. 24. Devereaux is in a 2-for-20 slump, and has not stolen a base since Aug. 20.

Finley, meanwhile, has batted .306 in his last 14 games, anleads the Orioles with 20 steals. He might be the weakest defensive player of the three, but his dedication makes him a favorite of the coaching staff.

Of course, this works both ways: If Finley is a player the Oriolewant to keep, then he figures to be a player other teams covet -- especially if he proves he can hit lefthanded pitching.

His home run last night came off lefthander Paul Gibson. It wahis first in 321 lifetime at-bats at Memorial Stadium, and the fourth of his career.

Finley is 18-for-79 (.228) off lefthanders.

Anderson is 6-for-30 (.200).

"I'm trying to show them I can hit lefthanders," Finley said"Maybe it's an audition for all three of us. It's nice being out there every day. You're more comfortable at the plate, no matter who's throwing."

* STILL WITH US: Righthander Pete Harnisch admitted yesterday he is losing speed on his fastball and tiring earlier in games, but after a brief meeting with Robinson, it was decided he would remain in the starting rotation.

"I always give guys the benefit of the doubt," Robinson said. "listened to him. He knows himself much better than anybody else. He has not pitched badly over the course of this stretch. He wants the ball. So, I'm going to give him the ball."

Harnisch (10-11, 4.51 ERA) has won only one of his last ninstarts with a 6.57 ERA, and he has worked a club-high 173 2/3 innings. Robinson said Bob Milacki was available to replace him in the rotation. Harnisch said his arm was tired, but sound.

"I still feel I have enough early in the game, but my velocity ikind of dying earlier than usual," he explained. "My fastball usually averages 89 [mph], and I usually carry it through the eighth or ninth inning. Now I hit 90-91 a few times early and throw 86 the rest of the way."

* STILL PERFECT: Detroit's Alan Trammell got picked off first base attempting the first stolen base off righthander Dave Johnson this season. Opponents are now 0-for-7 in that department off Johnson in his Orioles career.

Alas, Johnson did make a throwing error attempting to pick ofMilt Cuyler in the fifth. Trammell led off the following inning with a single, and got the steal sign in front of the next hitter, Cecil Fielder. But he didn't take off until there were two outs.

Trammell said he didn't feel "comfortable" -- Johnson has quirky motion that makes it difficult to steal. "I just got too anxious, and he held the ball on me," Trammell said. "I was picking a time when I thought, 'OK, I'm going to get a good jump.'"

* ONE INNING AT A TIME: Orioles reliever Gregg Olson blew his fourth save after entering the game with runners at first and third and one out in the eighth. Trammell ended the drama immediately, driving a 1-0 fastball into the left-centerfield gap for a two-run double.

Robinson said Olson would not have pitched the ninth even if hescaped the jam. Olson was sidelined with a sore pitching elbow Aug. 29 to Sept. 6. "One inning's his limit from here on out," Robinson said.

In other words, Olson blew a save last night, but could not havearned one (Joe Price wound up pitching the ninth). He is 30-for-34 in save opportunities this season, 57-for-67 for his career.

* AROUND THE HORN: The Orioles have lost 12 straight series to AL East clubs since taking two of three from New York in early June. Johnson is 6-1 against the East, the rest of the staff is 15-35. The Orioles' overall 21-36 mark is the worst in the league.

Catcher Mickey Tettleton struck out twice and walked twice. His within two walks of becoming only the second Oriole to notch 100 walks and 100 strikeouts in the same season. Ken Singleton did it in 1977 and '79.

The Orioles are hitless in their last 19 at-bats with men in scorinposition. They're reached double figures in hits only six times in the last 34 games. They have scored one run their last 23 innings while hitting .188.

More bad news: Entering the game Steve Searcy's opponentwere batting .314. The Orioles went 4-for-24 (.167). Good news: The Orioles still haven't been shut out in back-to-back games since May 21-22, 1983, by Toronto. Their streak of 1,231 games is the longest in the majors.

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