Nothing fazed the young guns on the Orioles' bench last night.
Not their relative inexperience. Not their inactivity. Not a game the team needed to win badly after four straight losses in the middle of a pennant race.
Jack Voigt, Sherman Obando and late-entry Jeff Tackett got up off their bench seats and delivered all the clutch hits in a 7-5 conquest of Milwaukee that enabled the Orioles to stay five games behind division-leading Toronto.
"It is just amazing how long they can sit on the bench and then stroke the ball the way they do," manager Johnny Oates said of his reserves.
Obando, who had not played above the Double-A level before this season, was the first to strike, hitting a home run into the left-field seats in the fifth inning to cut the Brewers' lead to 4-3.
It was his first hit and his eighth major-league at-bat since May 24.
"You just have to wait until your time comes," he said. "But it is hard coming off the bench because in batting practice you only see fastballs."
Obando said he has been working with hitting coach Greg Biagini to stop looking away from the breaking ball. "It's working," Obando said. "I want to prove what I can do."
Voigt's experience before 1993 consisted of a pinch-running appearance, and he had had only 17 at bats since June 24.
But it was his home run leading off the seventh that ignited a three-run rally that put the Orioles ahead for good.
Voigt said he uses Tim Hulett as an example. "I watch to see how he handles himself staying sharp, and I try to follow it," he said.
Voigt said he comes to the park every day thinking he will be in the lineup because if he doesn't, "I won't be mentally ready. And fTC they call me a 'stat rat.' I learned a lot about how to read them [statistics] in college, and I apply it."
Tackett, by contrast, is a relative veteran after starting most of the games last season while Chris Hoiles recovered from a fractured wrist.
But in the past 36 games, he has started four, and last month he batted only seven times.
Still, he singled home the winning run in his first at-bat last night after replacing the injured Hoiles.
"It's pretty tough to come off the bench like that," Tackett said. "The key is to stay loose when you aren't playing and try not to get over-anxious when you get up there."
Tackett came into the game so quickly that, "I didn't have a chance to think," and that may have helped.
"It's good to know Johnny is not afraid to use us," Voigt said. "If he didn't feel we could do the job, he'd get guys here that could. That shows us a lot of confidence in us."