Ray Miller, who served seven seasons as the Baltimore Orioles pitching coach, quit today to become manager of the Minnesota Twins. He replaced Billy Gardner, who was the fourth major league manager fired this season.

Ken Rowe, Baltimore's minor league pitching instructor since 1980, will join the Orioles here Saturday to replace Miller, who managed the Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers tonight in Minneapolis.

The Twins had lost 19 of their previous 25 games, including three out of four in Kansas City.

"I know what it takes and, hopefully, I'll be able to apply that here," Miller, 40, told a Minneapolis news conference after signing a contract through 1986. "This is a team that has a chance to win now . . . and win in the future."

Most Orioles didn't seem to be aware that he had left the team. "He wasn't on the flight with us today, was he?" came from the lips of more than one player.

"I had no idea until I heard just a few minutes ago," rookie reliever Nate Snell said as he headed toward the field for tonight's game. "It's a pretty big shock to me right now." Snell has said he probably wouldn't be in an Orioles uniform today if it weren't for Miller's persistence.

"It's not really a big surprise," starter Scott McGregor said. "His name was always in the rumor mill every time a job came up, and we all knew he wanted to manage. He was a big part of our organization for seven years. He was a real student of the game and we'll miss him."

Miller joined the Orioles at the start of the 1978 season. Five of his pitchers won 20 games and his staff four times finished among the American League's top three staffs in ERA.

"We hate to lose Ray," Orioles General Manager Hank Peters said. "He has been an important member of the organization for a number of years. At the same time, we are happy that he has been able to realize a goal of his in managing a big league club."

Miller's aspirations to become a manager seemed fairly obvious to several of the pitchers. But at least a couple thought he received too much of the credit for the success of the staff.

"When a pitcher was going bad, it wasn't Ray's fault," one pitcher said. "But when he got things turned around Ray was always there to take the credit for it. Ray was a genius. He liked the attention, too. You certainly had to respect him. He was good."

Some thought Miller got more attention than Joe Altobelli, who was replaced by Earl Weaver as manager last week.

Rowe, 51, has spent 30 years in professional baseball, 15 as a player -- parts of three seasons in the major leagues, and 10 with the Orioles organization.

As a major league pitcher, he made 26 appearances and had a record of 2-1. In 1963, he was 1-1 with the Dodgers with a 2.89 ERA. His 94 appearances in the minors in 1964 was at that time a professional record.

McGregor said he didn't think the Orioles' recent changes should hamper the team's play. "The players haven't changed and the players are the main thing," he said.

"We (the pitching staff) just have to act like nothing's happened, and continue to do our best."

Unlike Gardner, who lived in a motel during the baseball season, Miller said he plans to settle in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

"I would not want to be a suitcase manager -- to live in another city and fly in and out," he said.

Miller, who said he has wanted to be a major league manager since 1980, spent 10 years pitching in the minor leagues after signing with San Francisco in 1964.

Wearing No. 44, he took his lineup card to home plate, doffing his cap to the crowd.

"He said there will be some changes in the way the pitching staff is used," reliever Ron Davis said, "but he'll know more over the next week after he has seen us."