After the Deluge
The Orioles had to feel pretty good about their pitching staff going into last Friday night's game against the Rangers. They had a 3.00 ERA, which ranked first in the American League, and their bullpen had allowed only five earned runs in 37? innings. After Texas beat them 26-7 (all of those runs were earned), the Orioles had only the fifth-best ERA in the league, at 4.50.
In the eighth the Rangers scored 16 runs—the second-biggest inning ever—as Baltimore hurlers threw 99 pitches, enough in some cases for a complete game. It got so bad that Baltimore reserve infielder Manny Alexander was called on to pitch. He gave up only one hit in two thirds of an inning, but he also walked four, and the one hit was a grand slam by Rangers shortstop Kevin Elster. "There are some great pitching Alexanders in baseball history: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Doyle Alexander and now Manny Alexander," said former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, who's a broadcaster with the team. "But [Manny's] going to have to break out the [batting-practice] pitching screen."
The Dodgers have bad news for the rest of the National League: Farmhand Darren Dreifort's fastball was clocked between 95 and 97 mph last Thursday in a Triple A game for Albuquerque. Dreifort made his big league debut in 1994 and exhibited terrific stuff until he injured his elbow, which forced him to undergo surgery in March '95. He missed all of last season, but it looks as if he may have regained his early form. If he's ready to join the Dodgers in June or July, they are going to have a staff loaded with power pitchers—including starters Ramon Martinez, Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park—plus a knuckleballer, Tom Candiotti, thrown in to make it tougher for batters to find their timing....
Early leader to be the manager of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they begin play in 1998: Braves third base coach Jimy Williams....
A's pitcher Todd Van Poppel, Oakland's first-round pick in the 1990 draft, is likely on his way to the bullpen, still looking very much like a major bust. Many tall, straight-over-the-top pitchers such as the 6'5" Van Poppel throw a ball with little movement, which makes it very hittable. Van Poppel got shelled again last Saturday, raising his ERA to 9.95.