Manager Davey Johnson went with his right-handed hitting lineup yesterday against Detroit left-hander Justin Thompson. By resting Brady Anderson, Roberto Alomar and B.J. Surhoff, Johnson took advantage of the opportunity to gauge the health of some players and see "who might be hot before we get the Big Unit."
Assuming the Orioles clinch the AL East, they'll face Seattle's imposing left-hander, Randy Johnson, in Game 1 of the divisional series.
Johnson removed the hottest bat from his lineup, sitting Alomar after seven consecutive starts at second base. Alomar is 23-for-46 (.500) with six doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs in 13 games since coming off the disabled list.
"I haven't given him any time off. I did want to give him a breather," Johnson said. "I discussed that with him a couple days ago, when he wanted to do it."
Jerome Walton, trying to prove he's over the leg and groin injuries that have cut so deeply into his season, started in left field and went 0-for-4. He replaced Rafael Palmeiro at first base in the seventh inning.
Walton and Tarasco appear to be vying for the last spot on the postseason roster, with Walton having the edge because of Seattle's predominantly left-handed rotation.
"I think he's been doing a little bit like Robbie has, feeling his way along," Johnson said. "He's got a governor on it, but I think he's getting better. That's what these last games are all about."
Finding out who's ready to go for the postseason.
Davis goes back-to-back
Eric Davis started consecutive games for the first time since May 12-25, when he served as the designated hitter after missing four games with a pulled hamstring. The previous time he started back-to-back games in right was May 6-7.
Batting third yesterday, Davis went 1-for-3, lining a single to center field in the fourth. Dave Dellucci replaced him in the eighth.
"It feels good to get out there and perform," Davis said. "Things are starting to feel a little bit better. I'm still optimistic."
Davis had gone hitless in his first 10 at-bats since coming off the DL until collecting an RBI double in the second inning of Saturday's 12-8 win. He added an RBI single in the fifth before leaving for a pinch runner.
"When you've been out four months, the first hit is kind of big," Johnson said. "Especially after you've had cancer taken out. I would think that first hit means a little bit. It did to us. Eric seemed to take it in stride.
"I thought it kind of signifies that you are back. Being in a game and swinging is probably enough for him, but I think once you do something, driving in a couple runs, that signifies that you're back."
Johnson on Myers
Johnson doesn't sound concerned about the lack of work for Randy Myers, whose save Thursday against Milwaukee was only his third chance since Aug. 23, and his sixth appearance.
"I will get him in a game. I'm sure there will be cases that arise," he said.
"Randy is not one who likes to go out there just to get work. He wants it to have a significance. He's been around enough that he's had his own little [routines] to prepare him. But if he doesn't get any work the last couple days in Milwaukee, I might let him throw the last day. I'll talk with him about it."
Mathews' better mechanics
Though Terry Mathews has allowed runs in 10 of his past 16 outings, including two in 1 1/3 innings Saturday, Johnson said the reliever is exhibiting better mechanics.
"He's not flying open now. He was flying open, over-throwing," Johnson said.
Looking ahead to the playoffs, Johnson said, "He's pitched well against Seattle. It's basically more of a right-handed hitting lineup. He's gone through that lineup and kept them from scoring. I need everybody available and throwing well by the time we get out there."
Mathews didn't give up a run in 4 1/3 innings against the Mariners over his first two appearances, but allowed a game-winning homer to Russ Davis on Aug. 5, and two runs in an inning Aug. 15.
Around the horn
The Orioles set a single-season club record for attendance at 3,664,506. Mike Bordick's hitting streak ended at seven games. Cal Ripken went 1-for-2 with a walk before being removed for a pinch runner in the sixth inning. Brian Williams went 3 2/3 innings. He hasn't allowed a run in his past 10 innings, covering four appearances. Detroit's Bobby Higginson led the majors with 20 outfield assists, the most since former Oriole Joe Orsulak had 21 in 1991. Higginson is the ninth player since 1978 to post at least 20 outfield assists.
Pub Date: 9/22/97