The beer drinker's favorite lefthander, Wilbur Wood of the Chicago White Sox, confounded the Minnesota Twins with his dancing knuckle ball for a three-hit, 6-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader today.
In the second game, the White Sox reverted to their power game as homers by Jim Spencer, Jim Essian and Alan Bannister carried them to a 10-8 victory.
Following Wood's shutout, White Sox Bob Lemon came by his pitcher's locker and said, "Wilbur, I want you in the bullpen for the second game."
"That way we'll have some beer left when we come in," Lemon added.
Wood hoisted high a bottle of Milwaukee's finest. Celebrations have been rare for him since May 6 of last season, when a line drive shattered his left kneecap. Surgery put the knee back together with two pins and wire. He was out of action all season, and more repairs had to be done this spring.
"One of the pins got loose and they had to take it out," he said. "Want to see it? I carry it in my wallet."
It looked like six-penny nail without the head.
The victory was only Wood's second this year, against two losses, but it was heavy in meaning for the White Sox.
Now leading the league in hitting an astonishing turnaround from last season when harmless batsmen carried the Sox to last place, Chicago needs pitching desperately.
And Wood, before injury, became the only White Sox pitcher ever to win 20 games in four straight seasons.
"I know I can pitch," he said today. "My arm's all right. The only question is the knee."
Using "80 to 85 per cent" knuckle balls. Wood seemed his old self against the Twins, coaxing the poor fellows into off-balance lunges at the enticing, elusive knuckler.
The Twins never sent more than four men to the plate in an inning, and Wood faced only 30 hitters. Rod Carew was one for three, dropping his average to .407, before he left the game in the seventh inning with an aching back.
The Sox scored five runs in the second inning when Twin starter Geoff Zahn walked three men and gave up three singles.
A walk to Brian Downing forced in the first run, Alan Bannister's fly ball scored the next, Jorge Orta made it 3-0 with a single, Richie Zisk followed with another un-scoring single and relief pitcher Ron Schueler threw a wild pitch for the fifth run.
That was plenty for Wood, whose complete-game shutout was Chicago's first of the season.
"I've been a believer all along," Wood said to someone who wondered if the last-to-first transformation of the Sox is for real. "This team has a great attitude and it's consistently scoring runs."