The rambunctious young Baltimore Orioles took their first step out of the nest tonight in the opener of a five-game series with the mean old New York Yankees.
The limb was high, the young wings did not work and gravity prevailed. Crash, 9-1.
The Birds, who came to town a half-game behind the Yanks, wanted to leave a calling card, just a note to say they planned to be around for the rest of the season.
Instead, the Yanks gave the Os a look at the American League's hottest pitcher, Ed Figueroa. The 28-year-old righthander, who is reaching a brilliant prime, pitched his fifth consecutive complete-game victory, allowing only five feeble singles and one double by Al Bumbry, which set up the run.
Between them, Thurman Munson and Willie Randolph outdid the Birds Munson homered, tripled, singled and knocked in four runs: Randolph rapped four hits and scored as many times. While Figueroa was mixing fast balls on the fists and change-ups and running his personal string of shoutout innings to 23 before the Birds, scored in the sixth, the Os starter, Mike Flanagan, had his little feathers pinned back.
"I wasn't that bad," said Flanagan, shaking his head and recalling one Yank bunt, one infield hit, one Mark Belanger error, one broken-bat hit and two seeing-eye grounders. "I never saw so may balls go between third and short. One bad night can ruin six weeks work."
Almost every fellow in pinstripes had something to gloat about.
In addition to his four-for-four Randolph walked - making the second straight game against the O's in which he has reached base five consecutive times. He scored his four runs before Baltimore scored its one.
The Yanks shuld have been delighted with matters. Roy White made a brilliant tumbling catch to rob Billy Smith of an RBI triple; and manager Billy Martin got to laugh when Os manager Earl Weaver protested the game in the seventh on the feeblest of excuses - a pecular Yank sacrifice fly that turned into an inning ending double play. Weaver admitted afterward he was withdrawing the protest. Let the Yankees have their ninth run.
But, of course, the Yanks were angry, grouchy and unpleasant in victory, as in their want. Every "hero" of the night hid in the skittle-pool lounge so the morning newspaper reporters would have a head start on missing their deadlines.
Martin said he could sympathize with such a well-planned mass snub, since "we've been reading lies about ourselves since spring training. We haven't had one fight in the club-house. We haven't had a single murder or rape. But you'd never guess it from what you read."
Even tonight the Yankees could not restrain themselves from adding another chapter to their daily soap opera. Paul Blair, Yankee reserve, announced to his old Oriole teammates around the batting cage that, "Jimmy Wynn packed his bags and was gone when they went and brought him back."
Wynn, unhappy at being platooned as righthanded designated hitter - that's the equivalent of being s scrub raised to the second power - has been grumbling recently about how he has never been anything but a regular for 12 years.
Wynn refused to comment on Blair's statement that he had to be talked out of jumping the club. Martin denied Wynn had packed his bags."