Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Jim Palmer is used to power failures at Memorial Stadium. He's been watching them all year.
It was no surprise to him that there were two blackouts last night - one from the spaced-out stadium lights, which lasted only 23 minutes, and another from his Baltimore Oriole teammates. That one lasted all night.
For the 14th time in 28 starts, Palmer had fewer than three runs to work with as the Birds folded quietly and fell to the New York Yankees, 41, before 30,397 fans and a national TV audience.
The evening's scorecard for the absurd read: one electrical power failure, one player ejected (Willie Randolph) who never said a word and didn't even known he had been ejected for five minutes, and one mind-bending defensive play by Mark Belanger.
The final count for this four-game wacko split was nearly 4 hours 42 minutes in delays, two rain-shortened games, four power failures, one protest, one threatened protest, one fan death in the stands, four ejections and one emergency landing in left-field by a helicopter.
And last night was Earl Weaver's birthday. He got a rockling chair. "I just want to forget everything," the Oriole manager said.
"This was the damnest series I ever saw," said Yankee Graig Nettles, whose two-run homer in the ninth inning iced the game for the N.Y. pitching duo of Dick Tidrow and reliever Goose Gossage.
"We're used to a carnival atmosphere on this team. It's just part of the Yankee circus to us," Nettles said. "But I'm not sure all of us want to get on that coast-to-coast plane tonight."
The night's most shocked players were Randolph and the O's Eddie Murray. Randolph was sitting in the dugout, chatting with Reggie Jackson, when first base ump Steve Palermo ejected him for bench jockeying about a previous call.
"I said to Reggie, 'I wonder who got thrown out?'" said Randolph, who had never before been thumbed. "Reggie said, 'I think it was you.'"
Murray's surprise came with two out in the eighth and a 3-2 count as he faced Gossage, probably baseball's hardest thrower. As Murray stood poised for the Goose's superhummer, two banks of lights behind home plate went dead, putting the batter's box in shadows.
"Eddie set a new record for the backward broad jump," Nettles said. "I never saw anyone get out of the box so fast, I think he landed in the on-deck circle."
Nettles, for his part, simply threw his glove in the air and let it land on his head. "We're used to these lights now," Nettles said. "It just takes 20 minutes to cool 'em down and turn 'em back on. "Course that's a long time to wait for a 3-2 pitch from Gossage."
Murray fanned, bat on shoulder.
By far the best play of the night - perhaps the best of this season - was Belanger's dig-ang-peg from the hole to throw out slow Lou Piniella to start the seventh.
"I never thought I'd get to it," said Belanger, the best career percentage fielde in AL history. "When it stuck in my webbing I was as surprised as anybody.
"It took me three steps to stop on that wet outfield grass . . . not by choice. I was mired in mud. When I started to throw it was weird, like throwing from a skateboard. But I never made a stronger throw in my life."
The stunned Piniella was out by half a stride. The crowd, for the first time in Belanger's career, gave him a standing ovation that lasted so long he had to tip his cap. "It embarrassed me," he said.
"Piniella always yells at me about robbing him," Belanger said. "So I never looked at him the rest of the night. He'll get me someday. There's a practical joke waiting for me."
Palmer was in no joking mood, speaking to no one after the loss that dropped his record to 41-11, despite a glittering 2.65 earned run average.
One run off him came when iron-gloved Pat Kelly dropped a thigh high fly for a run-scoring two-base error. Another came on two soft liners sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt.
Except for Rich Dauer's sacrifice fly, the O's were silent. At present, seven Birds - Belanger, Rick Dempsey, Kiko Garcia, Carlos Lopez, Larry Harlow, Andres Mora and Dave Skaggs have averaged among them one RBI per 17 at-bats, a staggeringly low production.
"We're third in the majors in homers," Weaver said. "That's why we're still nine games over .500. But I can't remember our last two-run single! That's why we're 11 games out of first."