By the fifth inning of his major-league debut last night, Jimmy Haynes had all of his pitches working. The rookie was throwing 3-2 curveballs for strikes, prompting Orioles manager Phil Regan to turn in the dugout and tell Mike Mussina how much Haynes looked like, well, Mike Mussina.
The rookie thrived after some first-inning jitters, giving up just one run. But that was enough for Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who threw 8 1/3 shutout innings as Boston beat the Orioles, 2-0, before 41,536 at Camden Yards.
Leave it to baseball's biggest surprise, the Red Sox, to eliminate one of the game's biggest disappointments, the Orioles, from the AL East race with last night's loss. Boston center fielder Dwayne Hosey had four hits, including a leadoff homer, increasing his career hit total from three to seven.
But 1995 is no longer the focus for the Orioles. For the last month of this season, they are playing for 1996, opportunity for young players such as Haynes, who started the game that Ben McDonald thought he was going to pitch.
"I was really pleased with the way Jimmy Haynes threw," Regan said. "I didn't expect him to go out and do this well . . . and against a pretty good hitting ballclub."
When Haynes is throwing comfortably, his delivery is sedate as he draws his arm behind him, the ball held back and out of sight, completely relaxed. But the moment that his front leg descends to the ground, his arm action homeward is explosive. Put together, his delivery has the effect of a built-in change of speed. Slow, slow, FAST, and his fastball is right on the hitter.
"That's why he stayed away from an injury, why he's deceptive," said Orioles pitching coach Mike Flanagan. "That's why he's so well-liked."
In the first inning, however, Haynes' delivery was out of sync, rushing the whole way through, falling off toward first base after releasing the ball. On his second pitch of the game, Haynes threw a curveball that did not bite, and Hosey whacked it into the right-field stands, his first major-league home run. That, Haynes said later, did not help his butterflies.
John Valentin reached base when third baseman Bobby Bonilla fielded his grounder and threw wide of first. Haynes walked Mo Vaughn, and Flanagan trotted to the mound to talk to Haynes -- to tell him to relax. As Flanagan said later, it was not a question of whether he would go to the mound, but when.
Haynes, at this juncture, could've been boom or bust. Jose Canseco digging in to hit, runners on first and second, nobody out.
The rookie responded. Two quick strikes on Canseco, and a good 2-2 fastball on the outer half of the plate that Canseco dribbled weakly to first, for the first out (both runners advancing). Mike Greenwell was walked intentionally to set up the double play, and Tim Naehring obliged the Orioles with a ground ball that Cal Ripken turned into the inning-ending outs.
Haynes had a little two-out trouble in the second inning, a single by Luis Alicea and a double by Hosey. But Haynes got lucky, when Hosey's double bounced over the center-field fence and Alicea -- who would've scored easily -- was returned to third base. Valentin flied out to left, ending the inning.
The rookie then settled in and set down the Red Sox, facing 16 hitters over the next five innings, one over the minimum. Regan and Flanagan didn't feel as if he really started throwing well until the fourth or fifth inning, when he started getting his changeup and two brands of curveball over the plate.
"That's a pretty good debut," said Flanagan, "for having one pitch [his fastball] against the Boston Red Sox."
Problem was, Wakefield was stifling the Orioles, as well. Three up and three down the first two innings, the first hit a single by Bret Barberie in the third inning, no runner advancing past first base in the first seven innings. Wakefield did the
same thing to the Orioles in Boston last month, holding the Orioles hitless until the seventh inning.
In his last start for Triple-A Rochester on Saturday, Haynes pitched eight innings. So with the rookie working on three days' rest after such a long start, Regan hoped to get five innings out of Haynes, maybe six. His plan early Monday, before Ben McDonald dissented, was to pitch Haynes five innings and McDonald four.
But Haynes gave him seven efficient innings, throwing only 91 pitches, an average of 13 pitches an inning. His final line over those seven innings: three hits, one run -- the leadoff homer by Hosey -- and three walks and four strikeouts. Or, in other words, the type of start the Orioles could've used back in August, when these games meant something in the standings.
Regan went to his bullpen in the eighth, and immediately the Red Sox scored an additional run. Facing left-hander Mark Lee, Hosey -- that guy again -- hit a roller down the third base line and into left for a double. Lee struck out Valentin; more to the point, Valentin struck himself out, trying to drop a bunt with two strikes.
Lee then attempted to pitch inside to Vaughn, and grazed a pitch off the first baseman's massive torso. Regan called for right-hander Joe Borowski to pitch to Canseco, working on a 14-game hitting streak.
Make that 15 games. Canseco lined a 1-1 pitch to short center, which Curtis Goodwin charged and slid for and short-hopped. Goodwin held up his glove, in the hope that second base umpire John Shulock might've blinked or made a mistake, but no luck. Hosey, who didn't wait to make sure the ball dropped, scored easily. Greenwell and Naehring flied out to end the inning.
But the way Wakefield was dominating, the extra run probably meant more to the Red Sox as inflicted psychological damage than as scoring insurance.
Wakefield walked Brady Anderson with one out in the ninth, but Rick Aguilera came on to pick up his 28th save.
The Orioles may be finished for this year. But they got a glimpse of what could be in 1996, in Jimmy Haynes.
Tickets remaining for the rest of the Orioles' homestand:
Date Opponent Remaining
Tonight Yankees 5,000
Tomorrow Yankees 240
Saturday Yankees 100
Sunday Yankees 500