Ups and downs
&Statistics; through Thursday
B.J. Surhoff - UP - Has quietly gone about an All-Star first half.
Little ball - DOWN - The White Sox series revealed flaws in the short game.
Pat Gillick, Kevin Malone - UP - O's brain trust say they won't wreck a tight clubhouse with a panic move for an outfielder.
Rick Krivda - EVEN - Rochester left-hander has won nine straight but can't get a whiff of O's rotation.
Jeffrey Hammonds - UP - Could it finally be his time?
Shawn Boskie - UP - His face is off the milk carton and back into the rotation. He may even start on fewer than 11 days' rest.
Arthur Rhodes - UP - Allowed to heal; his last three outings suggest a return to form.
Geronimo Berroa - UP - The answer to a short roster. He can rake, but don't let him near the outfield.
Quote of the week
"When you go over there you think, 'I'm an infielder; I've played it before; I'll just step right back in; I'll feel comfortable like I did before.' The fact of the matter is, that's not real."
Cal Ripken, on the reality of returning to third base full time for the first time since 1982.
By the numbers
1: Games in which an Orioles starter has thrown more than 120 pitches.
1.88: Mike Johnson's ERA as a reliever.
13.87: Mike Johnson's ERA as a starter.
8: Players who have started as Orioles designated hitter.
31: Games decided by two runs or fewer.
39: Days since Pete Incaviglia's last extra-base hit.
84: Orioles run differential after the fourth inning.
362: Until a June 9 cameo, games since B. J. Surhoff had started at first base.
.391: Terry Mathews' career batting average.
2,618: Cal Ripken's hit total through Thursday.
Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds has experienced a breakthrough since assuming a more prominent role in Eric Davis' absence. Hammonds entered the weekend having hit in nine of his past 11 games, collecting 10 runs, three home runs and seven RBIs along the way. Given a healthy body, Hammonds has successfully stolen in his past six attempts. Of his 10 multi-hit games. five have come in an eight-game span ending Thursday. The Orioles no longer feel an urgent need to acquire an outfielder without Davis. Before Friday night's game, Hammonds was 11-for-26 on this trip.
Hardly the only team with such an affliction, the Orioles' designated hitters continue to seek consistency. Given a weekend off in Atlanta, the DH slot is scraping out a .253 average with five home runs, 27 RBIs and 65 strikeouts in 233 at-bats. Pete Incaviglia entered Atlanta in a 1-for-24 funk. The Orioles have shifted their emphasis from acquiring an everyday outfielder to replace Eric Davis to obtaining a DH type.
Combining Shawn Boskie, Rocky Coppinger and Mike Johnson's starts, the three-headed fifth starter has continued last year's string of struggling performances. In 11 starts, the three have combined for an 11.16 ERA. They've allowed 49 hits and 45 earned runs in 36 1/3 innings. In only one of the starts have they pitched past 4 1/3 innings. Johnson, 21 and in his first year beyond Single-A, was placed in an untenable position when asked to assume the role. Rarely armed with more than two effective pitches, he still lacks the maturity to succeed at this level. The Orioles remain convinced a strong makeup will see him through a season of occasional beatings. Should Boskie sustain his recent turnaround, the problem will ease. If not, it may be time for the Orioles to make good on their boast of greater minor-league depth. Bring it on.
Stat of the week
The difference in Mike Mussina's a.m. and p.m. numbers are like day and night. Before yesterday's afternoon start, Mussina was 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA in night games, 2-1 with a 6.85 ERA in day games. Mussina also remains one of baseball's toughest pitchers to steal against. During the past two seasons covering 39 starts, only 12 runners have attempted to steal against him. Only five had been successful. Mussina has allowed 32 stolen bases in 1,219 innings, an average of one per 38 innings.
Moment of the week
dTC Forget his offensive struggles for a moment. Shortstop Mike Bordick added to his catalog of stirring defensive moments in the eighth inning of Tuesday's second game against the Boston Red Sox. Bordick dived to his left behind second base, dug the ball from his glove and while lying down gave a backhand flip to Roberto Alomar, who turned a rousing double play against Nomar Garciaparra.
The week ahead
Monday-Wednesday, vs. Expos: The first interleague visitors to Camden Yards have been on a roll, with six straight victories heading into the weekend to press Florida for second place in the National League East. Center fielder Rondell White is back in the lineup after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring, but ex-Oriole David Segui (.327 batting average) had knee surgery last week and is out for a month. The Expos have several other former Orioles: outfielder Joe Orsulak (just over .250), reliever Anthony Telford (ERA under 2.50) and outfielder Sherman Obando. Left fielder Henry Rodriguez is the big bat in the lineup, with 11 homers and 42 RBIs heading into Friday.
Friday-Sunday, at Blue Jays: They still entertain visions of becoming a wild-card contender but the Jays appear to have too many offensive problems to last. They rank last in the league in batting average and runs scored and 12th in home runs. Their .242 average entering the weekend was 12 points below the next-lowest team, the Detroit Tigers. Their 231 runs scored was 41 fewer than the next-lowest team, the Kansas City Royals. Ed Sprague leads them with 33 extra-base hits, but Carlos Delgado (sixth in slugging percentage) is their only other member among the league lead in a meaningful category. Roger Clemens and Pat Hentgen rank No. 1 and 8 in ERA.
After interleague play comes to Camden Yards with a visit from the Expos, the Orioles complete their trek through the American League by finally encountering the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers. Barring further rainouts, the Brewers series ends a run of 30 road games in a 39-game span.
Pub Date: 6/15/97