CLEVELAND -- Every place the Orioles looked last night the pitching news was bad.
While the Orioles were taking a 10-4 pounding from the Cleveland Indians, Ben McDonald was in Rochester getting roughed up by the Triple A Syracuse Chiefs. In four innings McDonald gave up six hits, including a home run, and five runs (four earned).
He also left the game with a blister on his middle finger.
McDonald reported no pain in his elbow, but the results of his second rehabilitation performance do not indicate he's ready to return to the Orioles' rotation. "We'll wait until after we talk to everybody," was all manager John Oates would say.
"I wish the results would be better," said McDonald, "but I would rather get around the ballpark than sit there and walk guys.
"I had no problem with the elbow. It felt good and I felt strong. It took less time to get loose than in the past and I didn't feel any tightness."
McDonald had been penciled in to start Monday against Detroit, next Saturday against New York and then face Oakland two weeks from today in the first game after the All-Star break.
At the moment that schedule would appear to be overly optimistic. However, it might not be wise to rule out an immediate recall for McDonald, because the Orioles did just that a year ago when he experienced blister problems while throwing the high-seam baseballs used in the minor leagues.
* BELLE TOLLS FOR TRIBE: After a 20-day exile in Colorado Springs, Albert Belle returned to the Indians with a bang last night. Recalled in an effort to provide punch to Cleveland's anemic attack, Belle drove in three runs with a double and single in the nine-run explosion against Jeff Ballard in the first inning.
Belle had a lot of company as the Indians teed off on Ballard for 10 hits and 10 runs in three innings. By the third inning four hitters already had two hits apiece. Ballard's earned run average jumped from 4.21 to 5.06.
Among the Indians who tormented Ballard in the first inning were Brook Jacoby (10-for-61) and Mark Lewis (1-for-37).
* BUSY WEEKEND AHEAD: More than 130,000 tickets have been sold for the Orioles' three-game series against Boston this weekend. Approximately 47,000 have been sold for tomorrow night's game, 43,000 for Saturday afternoon and 42,000 for Sunday.
The club attendance record for a three-game series is 150,757 for the season-ending series against Milwaukee Oct. 1-3, 1982. Unless it rains, the Orioles will pass the 1 million mark Saturday, on their 34th home date, matching last year's earliest date that figure has ever been reached.
The three games against Boston make up the first half of a six-game homestand. The Tigers follow the Red Sox into Memorial Stadium for three games, concluding with an Independence Day celebration featuring post-game fireworks Wednesday night.
* THIS 'N THAT: Last night's win broke a five-game losing streak for the Indians, who had lost 11 of their last 12 and 17 of 20.
The Indians gave Greg Swindell (4-6) more offensive support in one inning last night than they have in all six of his losses. In those six games the Indians have scored eight runs, one less dTC than they scored in the first inning last night.
Mike Flanagan faced only 17 batters in the five innings he worked. It was his longest relief appearance since June 4, 1976, when he went 5 1/3 innings against Minnesota.
Orioles outfielder Dwight Evans is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, and is hopeful of playing against his old team, the Red Sox. But he is not 100 percent recovered from his Achilles' tendon injury and his status is doubtful.