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For starters, Oates is counting every pitch


DETROIT -- Having passed the one-third mark of the season, Orioles manager Johnny Oates has indicated he will be a little more cautious with his starting pitchers.

A question was raised after Rick Sutcliffe left Wednesday night's 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox after seven innings and 103 pitches. Oates had given the veteran right-hander every chance to finish what he started in his previous 13 starts.

"We'll be watching them [the starters] a little closer now," said Oates. "We want to keep them sharp, and I'd like to stay away from those 135- to 140-pitch games.

"We'll watch the number of pitches, rather than the innings. We've had about six games where we've gone over 120 pitches and I really don't want to do that.

"For some reason, the number 110 [pitches] is in my mind [as an ideal number]. I don't have any particular reason for it, but it's there."

Sutcliffe, Ben McDonald, who started last night against the Detroit Tigers, and Mike Mussina have had games this year in which they've thrown more than 120 pitches. And though Oates won't rule out that happening again, he indicated he will strive to avoid any overload.

"We're going to be careful with them, so we can keep them fresh," Oates said of his five-man rotation. "With the bullpen rested and doing a good job, there's no reason not to."

McDonald made the decision easy last night, faltering in the fifth inning after 81 pitches.

* NO EXCITEMENT: Detroit manager Sparky Anderson was asked before last night's game if anything exciting was happening with his club -- other than the recent brushback incident with the Cleveland Indians.

"There's nothing exciting going on around here," said Anderson said of his team, which has lost three straight and is sixth in the AL East with a 25-34 mark. "All the excitement left."

That's not completely true. Tigers starters have created a lot of excitement lately, mostly negative.

"What's [Mike] Henneman had, nine save opportunities?" Anderson asked about his relief ace. "[Oakland' Dennis] Eckersley had that many the first two weeks."

Henneman has eight saves in nine chances, but despite their league-leading total of 79 home runs, the Tigers have been unable to provide many leads late in the game. They are 19-7 when they score first, 6-27 otherwise.

Last night's starter, Bill Gullickson, gave up four runs in the first and six overall, but managed to last seven innings. Gullickson, the Tigers' top starter, saw his record drop to 7-4 and his ERA jump to 3.20.

* SEGUI UPDATE: First baseman/outfielder David Segui rejoined the Orioles after missing the previous two games.

Segui had returned to his Kansas City, Kan., home to be with his father, former major-league pitcher Diego Segui, who underwent bypass surgery Tuesday on five of the eight arteries leading to the heart.

"He came through the operation fine," David said before last night's game. "Everything seemed to be fine but he had some numbness in his right leg [yesterday], so they put him back into intensive care until they could find out what caused it."

Segui was inserted last night as a defensive replacement for Randy Milligan at first base.

* TOO MUCH STONE: Former Oriole Jeff Stone played a major role in one of the strangest losses in Rochester Red Wings history on Wednesday.

The Orioles' Triple-A farm team scored 11 runs in one inning and had a 13-3 lead in the fourth inning against the Tigers' Toledo farm club. But, with the recently acquired Stone going 4-for-6, the Mud Hens rallied for a wild 17-15 victory.

* MISCELLANEOUS: The Tigers scored two or fewer runs 20 times in their first 58 games -- and lost 19 of them. . . . Conversely, they have scored five or more runs 30 times, going 19-11 in those games. . . . Since making three errors May 10, the Orioles have made only six in their past 28 games. . . . The Orioles had allowed only 22 runs in the previous 10 games before last night, their best stretch since May 20-30, 1989 (14 runs).

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