It's beginning to look like the only way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is on a forfeit.
The fledgling Birds, with five rookies in their starting lineup, including an all-rookie battery, dropped the once-mighty Boston Red Sox today, 11-2, before 26,324 at Memorial Stadium and a national TV audience.
"Gentlemen, I'm sorry," manager Earl Weaver told his players in the clubhouse five minutes before the game, when he learned that his appeal of Thursday's forfeit to Toronto had been denied. "Let's go out and beat these guys two more times."
The Orioles and Red Sox have one more battle here on Sunday's "Thanks Brooks Day," but the message is already getting through to Boston - their pennant hopes are almost dead.
As the Orioles leaped to an 11-0 lead after six innings, the Sox had to watch the message board report five New York Yankee homers in an easy 9-2 victory over Detroit.
The Bosox are now 4 1/2 games behind New York with 14 to play, while the O's, who have won nine and forfeited one in their last 10 games, continue to hang to the Yankee's heel, 2 1/2 games back.
"I hope Zaltimore catches 'em if we don't," said today's losing pitcher, Bill Lee, a charter-member Yankee hater, day and Tuesday, we're gonna tear the wall down with line drives, even if it only helps the Orioles."
Today, the Birds tore Lee and his relievers down with a succession of smartly placed grounders and dying quails.
The first and fifth innings were typical of the way the Birds have learned to maximize every rally.
Elliott Maddox, starting in place of Al Bumbry (.310) so that the Birds could start nine righties against lefty Lee, opened with a walk, stole second on a busted hit-and-run and took third when Denny Doyle missed the good peg to second.
Rich Dauer, who has hit, 278 since an awful 1-for-42 start of the season, smacked the first of his three hits - a Baltimore chop double over third.
Next, Dauer brightly took third on Ken Singleton's groundout to short, the sort of aggressive base running that the conservative Red Sox never dream of trying.
"I tried to walk Lee May internationally," fumed Lee, "but he wouldn't let me."
May reached for a piitch Lee said was 18 inches outside and lofted a sacrifice fly to right.
The O's were back again in the third with Eddie Murray, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI, plating Singleton with a two-out flare dumped into right.
"They're a smart team," said the 3-4 Lee, wearing a "Paradise with an Ocean View" T-Shirt. "I [WORD ILLEGIBLE] you can dump the ball to right field off me, that's the name of the game.Try to pull me and I gotcha."
The O's nubbed Lee to death with a five-run fifth that epitomized the way the confident Birds have been sustaining their uprisings throughout this 18-3 streak (50-23 since July 1).
Maddox chopped a single just past Lee and Dauer got the hit-and-run right this time, singling to right. Singleton knocked out Sapaceman Lee with the 0's fifth and final opposite-field hit. None of them was much more than a lazy looper.
If the millions around the country getting one of their first looks of the year at the Orioles needed a summary of the young Birds' style, they got it on the next four pitches.
Lee May, whose four RBI today boosted him to 90 for the eighth time in nine years, hacked Bob Stanley's first pitch over third for the ?'s second shameless Baltimore-chop hit. Murray crashed the next serve high off the left-field fence for another RBI double now it's 6-0. After a mighty cut and a foul ball, Andres Mora lofted a sacrifice fly to right for his 42d RBI only 206 at-bats.That's a rally, quick as a heavyweight knockout.
The O's werent finished. With two out, Mark Belanger sliced an RBI hit into right just out of the reach of first baseman George Scott, who is way overweight and can't catch anything moving much quicker than a milk shake these days.
While the Orioles' offense conducted party time, rookie pitcher Dennis Martinez 14-7, 3.80 ERA gained sweet revenge. In three previous starts against the Bosox, he had allowed 18 runs in 15 innings. In his other 36 appearances, his ERA was a gorgeous 2.49.
Could anything make a pitcher madder or more motivated? Well, yes. Two months ago here, Scott, hit by a Martinez pitch, chased the 22-year-old rookie into left field before slipping and falling in a lump of lard.
"If Boomer chases you again today," third baseman Doug DeCinces to Martinez before the game, "just hide behind me again."
With his parents watching him for the first time in Nicaragua, Martinez wasn't in a running mood.
After Burleson's leadoff triple in the first, Martinez worked out of trouble without allowing a ball past the infield grass. Later he brought the Boomer to his knees with a crackling overhand curve for a strikeout. Martinez fanned nine in the game.
"Sometimes, Boston can really get you if you throw too many fast balls," said Martinez, rolling his eyes. "This time, I changed . . . lots of breaking balls."
But the live-arm fast ball was there when Martinez needed it. With his big early lead, Martinez challenged the Sox more than most pitchers dare.
Martinez was not only the winning pitcher today but the most gracious player. He refused to start the seventh inning until the chanting crowd got its wish: "We want Brooks."
Brooks Robinson, who played his first of 2,896 games on this field [WORD ILLEGIBLE] years ago today against the Washington Senators, rushed to the clubhouse to get his spikes on, then sheepishly popped out to receive his ovation. CAPTION: Picture 1, Lee May; Picture 2, Elliot Maddox of Orioles has second base stolen as ball escapes [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Sox second baseman Denny Doyle. AP