Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
It was a familiar table of two birds at Memorial Stadium Thursday.
The Baltimore Orioles, those strong-winged climbers, won with disgraceful ease, 7-1, behind Mike Flanagan's six hitter to reach a perch just 1 1/2 games behind the idle NewYork Yankees.The Orioles now have won 15 of 19 games.
The Toronto Blue Jays, those bedraggled fowl, lost for the 100th time of their fledgling year. So quiet and one-sided was the worm of contention was never in doubt.
Flanagan (13-10) fanned eight, got three double play balls off the bat of poor Alan Ashby and pitched to only four men over the minimum. Eddie Murray, greedy for the rookie-of-the-year award, banged four more hits, running his current batting orgy to 16 for 29.
Lee May and Ken Singleton, both pecking after 100 RBI, each reached the 95 limb tonight, May with a three run homer (26) and Singleton with a run-scoring single.
And rookie Andres Mora, who may have felt bilked out of a double by a blind umpire in the fourth, came back an inning later with an indisputable two-bagger off the right-field fence that scored a pair.
For the molting Jays (52-100), Otto Velez' solo homer after the score was already 7-0 was the only chirp.
The Orioles could only hope that the tail feathers of their fellow birds were really not drooping as badly as they seemed. Scoring but three runs in three games against Jim Palmer, Ross Grimsley and Flanagan. Toronto hardly looked primed for its three-game series at home against the Yanks this weekend.
"Don't worry," said Flanagan, who ran his success steak to 11-2 since June 27 with a rapid, 2-hour 75-minute performance. "We saw some of the Jays at a party last night and they're some kind of psyched for the Yanks.
"We were to stop them with our pitching. Boston beats them with hitting. But they give the Yankees fits."
The Blue Jays understand to what an extraordinary degree they hold the fate of the American League East race in their feeble breaks. The Jays are playing an incredible 24 games in 25 days against Baltimore, Boston and New York between Sept. 5 and Sept. 29. Only three games against Cleveland interrupted the streak of matchup against the big boys.
"We don't mean to arrange or disarrange the pennant race," said Toronto's Steve Bowling. "But it seems inevitable that we will."
"Whoever beats us the most is going to win," said third baseman Roy Howell. "The guys we ambush the worst are going to lose."
The O's have finished with the Jays at 10-5. Boston has a whopping 9-2 edge with four games in Fenway Park due next week. The Yanks, however, are only 6-6 against the worst team in baseball and lost a 19-3 face reddener to Toronto 11 days ago.
The Jays, who have lost six of eight to the Birds in a forthnight, sense a kinship with Baltimore. "They're just a bunch of guys like us," said Howell.
The Sox and Yankees, however, are natural Blue Jay enemies. Boston's Carlton Fisk, who knocked home 15 runs in a five-game series against Toronto this month said off - handedly on Wednesday, "We'll sweep all four from the Blue Jays."
"Sayin' that kind of stuff just might get your behind kicked," responded Toronto's Howell. "A lot of teams seem to be looking over their shoulder right past us."
"We're not supposed to beat anybody at any time," Jay manager Roy Hartsfield said bitterly in assessing his team's uniqueposition as designated victim in this pennant race. "We're not cryin' about it and we're sure as heck not rollin' over."
While Toronto, with three starters 21 years of age or younger, is "trying to keep from getting embarrased and gain some respect in Bowling's words, the Orioles are soaring.
"Things worked out tonight like you sometimes dream they will," said Flanagan, who allowed one man (Velez) past first. You throw a slider low and away hoping for a double play, and they smack it right to the second baseman on the first pitch.
"So many of us (young players) are just getting our feet on the ground . . . We've been playing so well the last three weeks that it's kind of sad the season is winding down. I'd like to play 50 more games, but I doubt if the guys'll come over to my house in November to play."
While the Red Sox clubhouse continually fluctates between an adrenalin high and near despair and the Yankees seesaw between cockiness and surliness, the Orioles just rollick along. "We're been trying to figure out where to play (designated hitter) Eddie Murray during the World Series," quipped Flanagan.
If an iota of tension has invaded Birdland, it must be hiding under the dirty socks.
After tonight's victory waltz, Doug DeCines (swollen thumb and all) joked about beating out a bunt, then an inning later starting an around-the-horn double play on a shattered-bat grounder on which ball and bat barrel arrived at his feet simultaneously.
Flanagan appraised the Orioles' good chance of ending up with five 15-game winners if he can cash in his two starts.
An old Pat Kelly, self-appointed team prophet in the wilderness, preached with mock solemnity, "No undertakers allowed in this clubhouse. On to Cleveland. Let the word goout: The pulse still beats in the Orioles."