* Athletics P Bob Welch pitched a 4-hitter against the Indians last week, allowing just 2 balls out of the infield, but lost to Rod Nichols, who had not won a major-league game since September 1989.
* Nichols is throwing a new pitch he calls a "forkle," which is held like a forkball but is said to react like a knuckleball.
* Tigers OF Rob Deer went into yesterday's game with 2 hits in 26 at-bats since the All-Star break -- a game-tying home run Tuesday and a game-wining homer Wednesday. He also had 112 strikeouts, which puts him on a pace to whiff 201 times over the full season.
* The Cubs won 4 of their first 5 games after the All-Star break. That's their best post-break start since they went 6-0 in 1935.
* Mets 3B Howard Johnson hit his 21st home run of the year Thursday night. He did not hit his 21st last year until Sept. 14.
* Rangers stopper Jeff Russell has blown 5 of his past 10 save opportunities and 6 for the year, which matches his blown-save total for all of 1989 -- the year he led the AL in saves.
* The Indians have not won 2 games in a row since sweeping the Tigers in a 4-game series May 31-June 3. Since then, Cleveland is a frightening 9-32.
* The top third of the White Sox order -- Tim Raines, Robin Ventura and Frank Thomas -- is on pace to combine for more than 300 walks. The last time that was done on the South Side was in 1949, when Luke Appling (121), Cass Michaels (101) and Floyd Baker (84) combined for 306.