MILWAUKEE -- Despite the ugliness of his most recent pitching line, there apparently is neither a need nor a desire for Ben McDonald to make any changes.
"What we've talked about more than anything else is staying upbeat," pitching coach Dick Bosman said of McDonald, who faces the Kansas City Royals tonight as the Orioles open a six-game homestand.
"I want him to concentrate on the quality of his pitches, which has been very good," said Bosman. "He was frustrated [after Sunday night's 8-2 loss to the Yankees], but I told him to think about the number of good pitches he had made."
According to Bosman, McDonald and manager Johnny Oates, the big right-hander made a lot of quality pitches against the Yankees. But the result was unpleasant.
"I threw 132 pitches in that game, and I honestly felt that I only made four mistakes -- but all of them went over the fence," said McDonald. "I felt like I was in command the whole game. "I thought I had dominating stuff, but when I walked off the mound after 8 2/3 innings, they had eight runs."
If the pounding was discouraging for McDonald, he said it at least was encouraging to hear Boswell's appraisal. "He told me, 'I don't want to change anything,' and that was good to hear," said McDonald. "I feel like my changeup is better than it's ever been, but it seems like I've had to be perfect.
"Earlier, when I was 5-0, they'd miss my mistakes or pop them up. Now, they're not missing. You figure they're not going to hit every mistake.
"I hear hitters when they come back to the dugout mad because they had a pitch to hit and didn't," added McDonald. "Like [yesterday], Leo [Gomez] said he had two perfect pitches and fouled both of them off. I was thinking, 'I wish that would happen for me.' "
Oates' theory about pitchers making mistakes is relatively TC simple. "There are hitters against whom you can make mistakes," he said, "and you know who they are.
"The good ones, you might get away with one -- but they'll get the next three. That's why we call people superstars -- they don't miss mistakes. That team Ben was facing [the Yankees] has a few guys who can hurt you.
In his 16 starts, McDonald (7-5, 4.56 ERA) has fared about the same as Rick Sutcliffe, the loser here yesterday when the Orioles fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 1-0. Both have ERAs well over 4.00, the result of a few bad outings. In McDonald's case, that includes his most recent start, which he prefers to forget.
McDonald did not pitch against the Royals the first time the teams met this year, but that should be no handicap when he faces them tonight.
Kansas City is hardly the same team that lost three straight to the Orioles on April 21-23 en route to a 1-16 start. They have regained respectability, going 28-25 since then.