Life on the diamond is so easy for the Baltimore Orioles these days that those in the postgame locker room have begun to grow flaky.
Following tonight's easy 9-1 triumph over the California Angels, Oriole catcher Rick Dempsey even called his own number as a potential starting pitcher. And Lee May, who slugged a bases-full home run, defended a rare stolen base straight-faced.
Dempsey was no doubt taken by the ease with which Oriole starter Jim Palmer shackled the .295-hitting Angels on four hits in eight innings to win his fourth game against one loss. Two of those hits came compliments of Lady Luck: a foul-line hugger by Rod Carew and a shot off Palmer's ankle that ended up in right field.
Palmer has been saddled with a score back but the Angels were hard-pressed to verify any loss of effectiveness by the star hurler. The visitors put men on bases in four innings, but only once did they have more than one base runner - and then only because of an Oriole error. That was in the fourth when California picked up its unearned run.
"I didn't feel the back at all tonight," Palmer said. "I haven't felt anything since the last game. But, then again, I didn't have to pitch as hard since we got all those runs early."
Four of those runs were delivered by May's third-inning grand slam, which put him one up on California's Joe Rudi among American League active hitters. May's 10th career slam was also his sixth homer of the season.
Oriole Manager Earl Weaver, who argued with the umpires over Carew's double that kicked up enough chalk on the third-base line to cover a blackboard, felt giddy enough to give May the steal sign in the fifth, with Baltimore holding a 5-1 lead.
"I wanted to see if he could make it," Weaver explained.
May, who indicated the successful attempt was not his first (he has 35 in 14-plus seasons), arrived at second safely compliments of a one-hop peg by Angel catcher Brian Downing.
"We're doing everything right these days, and if we don't, somebody comes in to make a great play and take up the slack," Palmer said. "On the way to the park, people were rolling down their windows and saying, 'You guys are going great.' And we are."
Gary Roenicke hit a two-run homer in the seventh and Eddie Murray lashed two hits and also drove in two runs.
Every Oriole starter except Dempsey hit safely as the Birds won their fifth straight and 14th in their last 15 games.
Oriole first baseman Murray hit safely in his 16th straight game, unloading a first-inning single that scored Al Bumbry with the game's first run.
The victory kept Baltimore percentage points behind American League East leader Boston.