OAKLAND, Calif. -- Unable to snap out of their monthlong doldrums, the Orioles have finally pushed their manager's patience to the breaking point.
Infuriated by what he perceived as a timid effort by starting pitcher Scott Kamieniecki in Friday night's 9-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Miller ripped at his pitching staff's approach afterward and threatened to push for changes with majority owner Peter Angelos.
"I'm prepared right now to call Peter Angelos and tell him to give me a bunch of 20-year-old kids who will at least throw a strike," said Miller during an outburst that included his wiping sheets of notes from his desk and hurling a TV remote against his office wall. Miller's tirade came after making similar threats to his team before the clubhouse opened.
Miller has repeatedly complained about his pitchers' inability to lTC work ahead in counts. He stressed the point during a meeting at Tampa Bay on May 8 but has since witnessed indifferent results. "We go 2-0 on every every player that walks up there, and that's [garbage]," he said. "Somebody better shake their tail, because I will ask for every 20-year-old in the whole damn world who's got the guts to throw strikes. Go out there and ask what's going on."
Kamieniecki's troubled outing against the A's -- seven earned runs, six hits, three walks and a hit batter in three innings -- pushed Miller too far. Even given a night's rest, Miller remained peeved last night. Orioles pitchers have walked 163 and struck out 311. Opponents have walked 161 and struck out 253. Kamieniecki has walked 16 and struck out 14 in 30 2/3 innings.
"I guarantee you: Check the pitching charts for anybody dominant in baseball right now and it'll show he's throwing first-pitch strikes 80 or 90 percent of the time," said Miller, adding, "If you're 3-1, 2-0 against everyone that walks up there, by a guy's third at-bat he's seen your entire family tree. He's seen every pitch you've got."
Miller has suggested that Kamieniecki begin every hitter as if he is already down 2-0 in the count. But his frustration doesn't stop there. The bullpen has also become an eyesore.
"When you've got guys who don't throw back-to-back strikes until it's 2-0 or 3-1, it's either due to lack of concentration or you're afraid to throw the ball over the plate," Miller said. "You're either giving the hitters too much credit or you're trying to be too fine. There's nothing wrong with throwing the first pitch where a guy can put a bat on it."
Kamieniecki was less than impressed with Miller's critique. While acknowledging, "You can make all the excuses you want, I didn't get it done tonight," he added, "From now on, maybe I ought to go out and say, 'Screw it. I don't care.' Right now, whatever I'm doing doesn't seem to work."
Stubbornly protective of his clubhouse until this road trip, Miller summed up his team's nine-game losing streak by minimizing any surprise over the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays' four-game sweep of the Orioles last week at Camden Yards.
"Tampa Bay basically outplayed us," Miller said.
"Their center fielder outplayed our center fielder. Their first baseman outplayed our first baseman. Their third baseman outplayed our third baseman. The catchers outplayed our catchers. Their pitchers outpitched our pitchers. If we didn't get the ball over the plate, they moved the guy over and got the run."
Pub Date: 5/24/98