Daal Nears 20-Loss Club Membership

Thursday, September 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Omar Daal could've simply been known as one of the players traded for Curt Schilling. Now, he nears another distinction: the 20-Loss Club.

With one more loss, Daal will become the first 20-game loser since Brian Kingman in 1980.

Daal (3-19) starts for the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night against the New York Mets. Kingman, who lives in California, bought a ticket for the game and plans to be at Veterans Stadium.

Surprisingly, no one is rooting harder for Daal to win than the former Oakland right-hander.

``I want him to win, or pitch well and get a no-decision. I want to retain the distinction of being the last 20-game loser,'' Kingman said. ``I've been living with it for 20 years. I sort of enjoy it, even though it was a painful part of my career. Enough time has gone by that I see it as more of an accomplishment.''

Kingman went 8-20 for Oakland in just his second full season in the majors in 1980 — the year the Phillies won their only World Series. He pitched three more seasons and has since become a baseball historian, able to quickly rattle the names of other, more notable 20-game losers.

Cy Young lost 20 games three times. Walter Johnson did it twice. Steve Carlton did it once. Each is in the Hall of Fame. Pud Galvin lost 20 games in 10 straight seasons. He's also a Hall of Famer.

``Pud Galvin is my hero,'' said Kingman, who joked that a Pud Galvin Award ought to be established and presented to members of the 20-Loss Club. ``I'm not as good as those pitchers. I'm probably the worst of all of them.

``But, it allows me to have my name mentioned in the same breath as Cy Young and Walter Johnson. It's like being a scientist and having your name mentioned with Albert Einstein.''

Daal doesn't quite look at it the same way. When told after his 19th loss that Kingman planned to attend his next start, Daal shrugged and said, ``Who's that?''

``I don't care about the record,'' said Daal, a 16-game winner last year. ``I want to go out and pitch every time.''

Daal easily could've skipped Thursday's start. He injured his right quadriceps sliding into third base during a game against Cincinnati on Aug. 24, and has been bothered by soreness in his thigh ever since.

Daal missed his usual between-starts bullpen workout Monday, but said he's ready to pitch. He hasn't thrown between starts since the injury.

``I have been going out there and pitching good. I just don't have anything to show for it,'' said Daal, who is 1-9 since coming to the Phillies in a five-player deal that sent Schilling to Arizona on July 26.

Daal has been victimized by poor run support lately. He has pitched six or more innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last five starts. Despite a 3.48 ERA in that stretch, he's 0-5.

The Phillies have not scored in the last 22 innings Daal has pitched and the left-hander has received less support per nine innings than any pitcher in the National League.

``There's nothing I can do about it,'' said Daal, whose 6.45 ERA is second-worst in the league.

Kingman can sympathize. He lost 20 games despite a respectable 3.84 ERA, which would rank fourth in the American League this season entering Wednesday's games.

Kingman also did it for an Oakland team that won 83 games and featured four, 14-game winners; Mike Norris (22), Rick Langford (19), Matt Keough (16) and Steve McCatty (14). McCatty's ERA was actually higher than Kingman's at 3.85.

That also was the first season of Billyball in Oakland, and pitching for Billy Martin didn't make it any easier on Kingman.

``Billy Martin was Bobby Knight 20 years ago,'' Kingman said. ``He wasn't a guy you want to lose for. Plus all the other guys on the staff were having career years. Misery loves company and I was talking to myself.''

Daal, meanwhile, has plenty of sad company in Philadelphia. He's pitching for a last-place team that doesn't have a pitcher with more than 11 wins.

Phillies manager Terry Francona is pleased with the way Daal has handled a difficult situation.

``The best thing that could happen to Omar is a fresh start next year. But that's not until next year,'' Francona said.