(Through Thursday's games)UPS AND DOWNSStarting pitching *...


(Through Thursday's games)


Starting pitching * DOWN * Arthur Rhodes has more wins than any starter other than Mike Mussina.

David Wells * DOWN * Rips himself for not maintaining his concentration. At least he's diagnosed the problem.

Kent Mercker * DOWN * Questions manager's decision to yank him in the third inning after he allowed eight hits, three walks and five runs. He would have a stronger case if he pitched better.

Scott Erickson * DOWN * Looked as if he just started firing the ball in frustration after the Tigers started hitting him Wednesday.

Jimmy Haynes * DOWN * They've tried to keep him in the majors to maintain his confidence. But getting pounded every time out won't help.

Rocky Coppinger * UP * Maybe he's coming up too early, but he's an improvement over the veterans right now.

Pat Dobson * EVEN * It'd be easy to blame the pitching coach, but let's face it - he's not the one quitting on the mound.

Rick Krivda * UP * If the other starters aren't getting it done - and they're not - then this guy is a viable alternative in the rotation.


From May 21 to June 13, Orioles starting pitchers allowed 104 earned runs in 103 innings, for a 9.06 ERA, and allowed five or more runs in 37 of the first 62 games.


"Heck, they should've taken the team away from here and made her sell it. The comments she's made put her in the situation she's in. Like anybody, she's got to think about what she says before she says something . . . Get her out. Let her go sell cars . . . She'll fire you in a heartbeat and she won't think twice about it. I xTC think that's what baseball should do." - Former Reds pitcher David Wells, on Cincinnati owner Marge Schott.


Monday-Wednesday, vs. Texas

The Rangers are polar opposites of the Orioles this year, a team overachieving despite injuries to Juan Gonzalez and first baseman Will Clark, and an understaffed bullpen. They're getting unexpected help from lefty starter Darren Oliver, shortstop Kevin Elster and left fielder Rusty Greer, and former Orioles outfielder Damon Buford has been terrific as a part-time player. The Rangers won six of the first seven games against the Orioles. Oliver, tough on the Orioles in April, likely will pitch one of the games in this series.

Friday-Sunday, vs. Kansas City

The Orioles finish their season series against the Royals in the third week of June. They need to win all they can against Kansas City, and they should. But the Royals likely will throw Doug Linton in one game, a pitcher who shut down the Orioles in Kansas City on Thursday. The Orioles swept three games from the Royals in Camden Yards to open the season.


The middle of the Orioles lineup, with Rafael Palmeiro, Bobby Bonilla and Cal Ripken, has been extremely hot, taking the pressure off Roberto Alomar and B.J. Surhoff to win games every night.


Pick an Orioles starting pitcher. Any Orioles starter. Rocky Coppinger allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings in his debut last Tuesday, and judging by the praise accorded him, you would've thought he had thrown a no-hitter; relatively speaking, he was excellent.


David Wells flipping the ball in the air in frustration and then allowing a single to rookie Kimera Bartee on Monday night in the Orioles' loss to Detroit. Wells simply disintegrated after that.


The promotion of Coppinger was well-timed, however, because the Orioles need some alternatives. The guys in their rotation weren't getting it done, and Coppinger is aggressive, at least.


Several moves, actually. Orioles manager Davey Johnson has tried Jeffrey Hammonds, Luis Polonia and Mike Devereaux in left, giving them extensive opportunity to win the job, and not one of the three is grabbing the chance.

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