A Wise Old Bird
Should the Orioles emerge as winners in the American League East, remember Aug. 25 as a key date. That was the day that pitcher Rick Sutcliffe gave his teammates a lift with an extraordinary performance. Two days earlier Sutcliffe's mother, Louise Bloss, had died after a long bout with cancer. Rick flew to Kansas City that night to help arrange the funeral and planned to return to Baltimore in time to make his scheduled start.
"Stay with your family," manager John Oates told his pitcher. "I have another starter ready." But Sutcliffe insisted on going back to take his turn. That night he gave up four hits in eight innings in a 9-1 victory over the Angels. The win was the third in a row for Sutcliffe, whose ERA from Aug. 5 to Aug. 25 was 1.57, while the rest of the Baltimore starters' was 6.01. In the O's 2-0 shutout of Seattle on Sunday, he went 8? innings to get his 14th win.
Sutcliffe, 36, has been an inspiration to Baltimore's young pitchers. But he is one of the guys, too. An example: After a day game in New York in late July, he hired a limo to take himself, Oriole p.r. director Rick Vaughn and trainer Jamie Reed to a Bruce Springsteen concert. During intermission the threesome visited backstage, and after the concert they took the limo, stocked with food and drink, to Boston for Baltimore's next game. Sutcliffe picked up the entire tab.
Anthony Young's emergence as the Mets' closer (he had 11 saves in 11 tries through Sunday) might make John Franco expendable. But Franco will make $8 million over the next two years, and that will make him hard to deal.