Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
After a week of fantasy in which a joke line-up batted .333 and dashed off six straight wins, the New York Yankees clunked back to reality tonight, losing, 6-2, to the Baltimore Orioles.
The magic of manager Billy Martin's "out-of-the-hat" lineup was broken as Oriole lefty Rudy May finessed the Yanks' big hitters with his curves in one jam after another.
Like a soggy firecracker on this damp, chill night, the New York order fizzed and threatened, making noises, as Oriole Ken Singleton said, "like they were going to bat around three times."
But in the fifth, with men on second and third, Thurman Munson popped up. In the sixth, in the same situation, Chris Chambliss fanned. And in the seventh with two on, Reggie Jackson, the man that 12,884 fans hooted throughout an 0-for-3 night, skied to center.
The Yanks' three power men had made soundless outs in the clutch. It was not a good sign for a Yankee team that has many nagging injuries.
Tonight, Roy White had to leave the game with a jammed wrist after making a skidding, rolling catch. He joined Graig Nettles on the bench.Nettles missed this game with a swollen hand - the one he used to hogtie and hip-flip a fan in Monday's game-ending fracas. Nettles slammed the fan to the gravel track, but his own hand was underneath.
The Yanks learned today that Don Gullett will miss at least one turn with a twisted ankle and neck that he wrenched while slipping off the wet mound Monday.
No wonder manager Billy Martin was in a grumpy mood after watching Ken Holtzman, one of his seven healthy pitchers (two of whom are Gil Patteron and Ron Guidry), get crunched for a dozen hits and six runs in the most lackluster of showings.
That was part of the truth. The other half is that if half the Orioles liners had fallen in, the Birds might have reached double figures off Holtzman.
Those decisive four first-inning runs were made out of pieces of string and a lot of good luck. But the baby Birds knew how to wheedle for an advantage.
Holtzman walked leadoff man Al Bumbry and the O's knew he was struggling. Rookie second baseman (Easy) Billy Smith, perhaps the least known of last year's re-entry players, dribbled one to short. Yankee, Bucky Dent began a dismal night, which included two errors and two other unscored miscues, by tossing his force-out throw into right field.
Singleton, the hottest Bird with an 18-for-46 record with 14 walks, hit a potential double-play ball over the mound. Second baseman Willie Randolph got his feet tangled and instead of converting a tough play, missed the ball entirely as a run scored.
Holtzman, unnerved, walked Lee May to load the bases, then wild-pitched a run home. On a 3-2 pitch to Doug DeCinces (still with no outs), Holtzman had to groove a fast ball to avoid a third walk. DeCinces drilled a two-run single to left and all the runs that were needed had scored.