Even as ERA soars, Ryan keeps his feet on ground

Nolan Ryan has learned not to get too satisfied with success and not to take failure to heart.

These haven't been normal times for the future Hall of Famer, with an early trip to the disabled list and a stratospheric ERA.


So, after yesterday's no-decision in the Texas Rangers' 5-3 win over the Orioles, Ryan, 45, was upbeat.

"I'm an optimist, but if you're some guy sitting in New York or Texas looking at the last three box scores, you're saying, 'What's wrong with Nolan Ryan?' That's only a normal reaction," said Ryan.


Ryan, who has won 314 games, pitched seven no-hitters and struck out more than 5,500 batters, worked two innings yesterday, giving up three runs, a home run and a triple. His record remained 0-1, but his ERA rose to an uncharacteristic 11.42.

Last Thursday, he lost to the Chicago White Sox, 12-1, giving up seven runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings with five walks and three strikeouts.

After giving up the three first-inning runs yesterday, Ryan had Sam Horn at third with his first career triple and Mike Devereaux on first after being hit by a pitch and no one out.

Ryan struck out Chris Hoiles and Joe Orsulak and got Leo Gomez to pop up to shortstop.

"The older you get, the better perspective you put things in or handle them," said Ryan.

"I thought he made some quality pitches, but you don't often get a chance to score many runs off him," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "We had first and third with nobody out, and we didn't score. That was an important part of the ballgame."

He who laughs last

When Texas reliever Jeff Robinson entered the game in the third inning, Orioles fans booed him as lustily as they did last season when he was a Baltimore starter.


Robinson, who came to the Orioles in January 1991 from the Detroit Tigers for Mickey Tettleton, was 4-9 last season with a 5.18 ERA before he was demoted to Rochester, then released after the season.

The Rangers signed Robinson to a Triple-A contract, and he made the team as a long reliever. Yesterday, he notched his second win in relief, limiting the Orioles to two hits and no runs, though he walked three.

"He gets in some jams, but he gets out of them," said outfielder Brady Anderson. "He has good stuff. Every major-league pitcher has good stuff."

"You have to give him credit," Oates said. "He put five zeros on the board. . . . he made the pitches when he had to."

Robinson, who lost to Ryan, 15-3, in April 1991, refused to gloat.

"We came here to win or lose as a team. I did what I was called on to do," said Robinson. "Instead of a crowd meter, it should have been a boo meter."


Dialing 8

With Cal Ripken's first-inning home run, the Orioles have homers in 10 straight games (15 overall). The team has 13 homers in its past five games at Camden Yards.

The rest of the American League has four grand slams, and the Orioles have three, all at Oriole Park in the past nine days.

Ripken's homer was the first given up by Ryan in 57 2/3 innings, since July 28, 1991, to Detroit's Travis Fryman.

Welcoming Wuhl

Actor-comedian Robert Wuhl visited Oriole Park, accompanied by NBC sportscaster Bob Costas and at the invitation of Orioles announcer Jon Miller.


Wuhl was a regular visitor to the Orioles spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., in part because the camp was located across from his hotel, but also because he's a big baseball fan.

"It was fun. I had a good time. There's nothing better than spring training," said Wuhl.

Wuhl, who will not reprise his role as a reporter in the upcoming film "Batman Returns," said he was impressed with the new ballpark and with the Orioles generally.

"They've got a chance. They remind me a lot of last year's Twins. The Yankees are surprising, but they're not ready," said Wuhl.

"Sure, they [the Orioles] can win it. Toronto? They're certainly capable of blowing it at any time. They can be up seven [games] with six to play and still lose it."



Seven triples have been hit in 12 games in the new ballpark. By contrast, 13 triples were hit in the 1986 season at Memorial Stadium, and 11 were hit there in 1985. . . . Kevin Reimer's second-inning home run off Jose Mesa landed 28 feet, 8 inches from the warehouse beyond right field, the second-closest anyone has come to hitting the building. . . . The Orioles have the best record in the majors since April 17 at 14-4.