Exactly one year ago Milwaukee Brewers swept a doubleheader from the Baltimore Orioles, dropping them 13 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the American League's East Division, and, for all intents and purposes, out of the pennant race.
Today, the Orioles reversed that result, sweeping the Brewers by scores of 3-2 and 4-3. In doing so, Blatimore once again moved into first place, one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox and 2 1/2 in front of the Yankees.
In this most improbable of seasons the strange events that helped the Orioles to their sweep seemed commonplace, Baltimore scored its runs in the first game on an error, a bloop double just over the shortstop's head and a double by a man not even on manager Earl Weaver's original lineup card.
In the second game, Rudy May was smacked all over Memorial Stadium right from the start, but carried a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning thanks to five balls caught on the warning track and a nifty double play started by third baseman Doug Des Cinces with the bases loaded in the seventh.
And when the Brewers finally got to May in the eighth and tied the game 3-3 with a major assist from reliever Dick Drago, who threw away a perfect double-play ball, the Orioles never batted an eyelash.
DeCinces led off the bottom of the inning with a double, sending starter Jerry Augustine to the showers. Bill Castro came on and immediately got pinch hitter Pat Kelly to pop to center where von Joshua dropped the ball. Rookie catcher Dave Criscinone sacrified perfectly, pinch hitter Al Bumbry was walked intentionally, and Elliott Maddox flied deep to center, driving in the winning run.
"We didn't make all the big plays but we made enough of 'em," Weaver said as his players walked around the locker room yelling "whose in first place?" at one another as if they could not believe it was true. "Pat Flanagan was super in the first game. We made mistakes in the second one, but we also made some good ones.
During the course of the 5-hour 25-minute doubleheader, the 19,411 fans were treated to several outstanding fielding plays, three of them on running catches by the rejuvenated Maddox in the second game. They also witnessed some shooddy fielding by both sides as dusk closed in on what started as a bright, breezy afternoon.
In the opener, the Birds combined good pitching, solid defense, timely hitting and a good deal of luck to break their three-game losing streak.
The winning hit came off the bat of rookie Eddie Murray, who wasn't even supposed to play. Weaver had planned to give his one-for-eight bat, the last two games, a rest. But Murray's streak of playing in every game this season remained intact when Al Bumbry's pulled hamstring muscle acted up and forced him to the bench.
Murray faced Moose Haas with Pat Kelly on second, after a bloop single and his 15th stolen base, and one out in the eighth, Haas had already walked Murray twice and went to 3-1 on him this time. His next pitch was a fast ball, Murray's favorite pitch. He lined it off the left field fence for his 47th RBI of the season as Kelly, who had driven in the tieing run in the third, trotted home with what proved to be the winning run.
"He had been throwing fast balls all day but they were all down and in one me," Murray said later. "But he got this one out over the plate and I just went with it, I knew if I got the run home we'd win the game."
Murray's confidence stemmed from Flanagan's mastery of the Brewers. The 25-year-old lefthander, now 8-8 after his sixth consecutive complete game win, retired 17 of the last 19 Milwaukee batters after a brief wild spell in the third gave the Brewers their two runs.
Flanagan walked Lenn Sakata and Eddie Romero, with one out. After Billy Smith's diving stop of Jim Wohlford's grounder temporarily saved the Orioles Steve Brye got both Brewer runs home with a ground single to left.
"Sometimes you just lost your concentration," Flanagan explained of the lapse. "Thank god I got my rhythm back in the fourth." He didn't issue a walk the rest of the game on his way to a four-hitter.