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Hits and misses


On the field: Cal Ripken's slump continued yesterday, two flyouts and two groundouts in four at-bats. Ripken has three hits in his last 41 at-bats, and his average has sunk to a season-low .252. An hour after the game, Ripken, dressed in his baseball pants and a black T-shirt, took a bag of baseballs behind home plate and hit dozens off a tee out onto the field for more than 30 minutes. When he was finished, Ripken carried the bag to the outfield and collected all the balls, with some help from a few security men who accompany him on the road.

In the dugout: In May, June and July, there were times when the Orioles desperately needed another reliever or two to share the workload. But with nine pitchers in his bullpen these days -- 10, if you include Ben McDonald -- manager Phil Regan is having a hard time finding enough innings to go around. Armando Benitez has not pitched since Sept. 10, Mike Hartley since Sept. 12, Mark Lee since Sept. 13, and Terry Clark since Sept. 14. In the past, Clark and Benitez have held the job of right-handed setup man, a role which Joe Borowski is filling for the final weeks of '96.

In the clubhouse: "All my questions are answered. Hopefully, I'll get another couple of appearances out of the bullpen . . . to pitch again." -- Orioles right-hander Ben McDonald, asked about his health after he pitched four innings yesterday

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