The heat's on, and so are the T-shirts

Everybody talks about the weather, and like everyone, the Orioles are powerless to do anything more than suffer through it.

The most important commodity in the team's clubhouse -- especially for a game like last night's, when the game-time temperature was 99 degrees -- is clean undershirts.


Dwight Smith, who played left field in Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics, changed the T-shirt under his uniform top four times during the game, which began at a temperature of 97 degrees.

"That was one of the hottest nights I can remember. It [changing shirts] makes you feel so much better. If you have extended innings, you have to do it," said Smith.


Second baseman Mark McLemore also went through four undershirts in Thursday's game.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," said McLemore.

Thursday's starter, Ben McDonald, lost 11 pounds during the game, sweating profusely on the mound and in the dugout between innings.

"He'd come in here and sit down and the water would pour off of him. There would be puddles sitting next to him," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates.

Oates, who said he remembered losing 13 pounds while catching Phil Niekro one game playing for the Atlanta Braves in a game in St. Louis, said his decisions on pitching changes are based on factors other than heat.

"It all comes down to pitch counts. The more pitches you have to throw, the more it takes out of you and the more work you have to do," he said.There are certain guys that can handle it better than the rest. I don't know if Jamie [Moyer] ever sweats."

Cruising for the break

The All-Star break might give Oates a chance to get extended use of his pitching staff.


"You know you have three days off coming so you might stretch a few guys. I'd have no problem running Lee [Smith] out there three straight days," said Oates.

The A's seem to be in that mode, given manager Tony La Russa's use of a club-record eight pitchers Thursday night.

"That's why our lineup was that way, to make him make those moves. Our scouts told us that he [La Russa] has been matching up from the fifth inning on," said Oates.

Mike's magic

Mike Mussina joined Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally as the only Orioles pitchers to win 13 games before the All-Star break. Palmer, Cuellar and McNally did it twice each, and each time they went on to win 20 games.

Mussina is the first Orioles pitcher to win 13 before the break in 19 years, since Palmer in 1975.


Post-All-Star workout

All players, except for Smith, Mussina and Cal Ripken, the Orioles' three All-Star representatives, will have a mandatory workout Wednesday before the team leaves for an 11-game West Coast road trip.

Oates said he had not discussed with Toronto's Cito Gaston, the American League All-Star manager, any plans for using Mussina, who, as you might remember, did not pitch in last year's game.

What got into that cat?

There have been several rain delays and stoppages for various reasons in the 2 1/2 -year history of Camden Yards, but never a cat delay.

That is until last night, when a felonious gray and white feline wandered onto the field down the left-field line in the bottom of the fourth.


Tricia Vaccaro, the left-field ballgirl, attempted to retrieve the tabby, but to no avail. Finally, after a few minutes, the kitty ran toward a city police officer who was seated in foul ground. The officer scooped it up and handed it to a young woman who had emerged from the stands.

Gomez Festival today

Third baseman Leo Gomez will be the host of a baseball festival today from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Admission is $2, children under 6 are admitted for free, and there will be additional charges for autographs. Proceeds will benefit the Spanish Christian Church Outreach Project.

Mussina, Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines, Lonnie Smith, Alan Mills, Jeffrey Hammonds and Oakland's Ruben Sierra are expected to join Gomez. Call (410) 461-8664.



The Orioles have averaged 7.5 runs per game through the first eight games of this homestand and have scored 10 runs or more three times and nine runs four times. . . . Chris Hoiles, who hit his 17th home run in the third, has five homers in the past 10 games and nine in his past 21. . . . Brady Anderson is 11-for-31 with 11 RBIs on this homestand. . . . McLemore had four hits and is 11-for-23 against Oakland this season.