In Earl Weaver's dreams, there are relievers who do the things Brad Havens has done this spring. His curve ball snaps across the strike zone, and his fast ball is better than 90 mph.
Havens virtually sewed up a spot on the 1986 Baltimore Orioles tonight as he earned his second save in a crazy 9-7 victory over the Texas Rangers before 1,057 at Miami Stadium.
In a game with 29 hits, four errors and three balks, Havens was the best news for the Orioles.
"His curve ball just freezes at the plate, then pops like it's rolling off a table," Orioles General Manager Hank Peters said.
Havens faced three hitters in the ninth after Juan Beniquez's double had given the Orioles a 9-7 lead in the last of the eighth, and he got the side out in order.
This was Havens' fourth appearance. He has allowed six hits and two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings (a 3.18 ERA).
In Weaver's bullpen, he is the perfect addition to right-handers Rich Bordi and Don Aase and left-hander Tippy Martinez. Weaver likes the balance, and he likes the velocity of four medium- to hard-throwers. "I'm not saying he'll take Tippy's place as the short man," Weaver said, "but I have seen Tippy go five and six innings."
Havens is making no predictions. For one thing, it's not part of his quiet makeup. For another, he has been close before and has spent only one full season in the big leagues in eight pro seasons.
The Orioles got him from the Minnesota Twins a year ago, for reliever Mark Brown. Havens appeared in eight big league games at the end of last season, then went to Puerto Rico, where he refined his curve ball, threw it for strikes and was named that league's outstanding pitcher.
"If you can get the curve ball over, you don't have to throw your fast ball by people," he said. "I learned that in the month I was up last summer."
The news about another Orioles pitcher wasn't as good. Weaver wanted seven innings from starter Scott McGregor; he got four shaky ones (nine hits, four runs, a walk and two balks).
In 16.1 innings in four spring games, McGregor has allowed 29 hits and 10 earned runs for a 5.51 ERA, which is worse than his career-high 4.81 of last summer.
After the Orioles got a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, McGregor allowed back-to-back homers to Gary Ward and rookie Pete Incaviglia.
"It was a good pitch-bad pitch night," he said. "I think it might be the time for the annual spring training dead arm. That's what the bench said it looked like, and that's what I hope it is.
"I felt great, but the action of the ball wasn't right. My curve ball was rolling, and my change-up would be good one time and bad one time. So I'm going to the bullpen to work."
The Orioles got 15 hits off six Texas pitchers. Outfielder John Shelby went three-for-four with a double and a triple.