A decade ago tomorrow, Sid Fernandez won his first major-league game in Houston. In Lynchburg, Va., Phil Leftwich had completed his first year in high school.
Ten years later, Sid Fernandez is second -- behind Nolan Ryan -- on the all-time leaders list for hits given up per nine innings and Leftwich is completing his first full year in the major leagues.
The two pitchers will square off tonight as the Orioles go for their second straight win over the California Angels.
Last year, Leftwich had a 3.79 ERA in 12 appearances. He has not pitched as well this year, posting a 4.67 ERA.
Leftwich has pitched well in at least two games, but the Angels have given him little support. He struck out eight, giving up only four hits, in a 3-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals on May 21. On June 1, he pitched 8 2/3 innings and gave up just two runs, but the Cleveland Indians beat the Angels, 3-2, in 10 innings.
The last time Leftwich faced the Orioles, April 19 at Camden Yards, he lost to Jamie Moyer, 4-3. Left- wich, who has had trouble beating the Orioles, has had no problem with their two best hitters, Rafael Palmeiro (.334) and Cal Ripken (.307). Ripken is 1-for-7 with a walk and an RBI against the right-hander, and Palmeiro is 0-for-5 against him.
Leftwich has had problems with some of the other Orioles. Jeffrey Hammonds is 2-for-2 against him with a home run. Harold Baines is 3-for-6 against Leftwich with a homer, Brady Anderson is 3-for-8 and Mark McLemore is 3-for-9.
The Angels haven't fared as well against Fernandez, hitting only .167 against him. . Even All-Star Chili Davis is 2-for-8 against Fernandez with four strikeouts. Spike Owen particularly has had problems with El Sid, going 3-for-22 with four strikeouts.
Fernandez has had a number of strong outings, including a complete game against the Chicago White Sox on June 3, but he has been hampered by injuries much of this season.