The winning arm and the winning bat share a house -- and a moment before John Lowenstein hit the last pitch into the left field stands for the Orioles tonight Don Stanhouse said: "You don't win this game we raise the rent."
And after Lowenstein had skipped joyously around the bases with the three-run homer liften the Orioles to a 10-inning victory over California in the American League playoff, Stanhouse and everyone in Memorial Stadium realized the season-long theme had played once more.
"Somebody always does it around here," Stanhouse said. "Every individual had a helping hand. Course we have some pretty good players around here, too."
Despite his own pleas to the contrary, Jim Palmer was exactly the proper man to open the playoff for the Orioles, for he provided the crutch they needed so badly, a man who has been through the postseason pressure -- on and off the field -- before and would give them time to gain composure and confidence.
Also, there was a hitting hero who was a surprise to everyone except those who know the Orioles best. The Blade helped derail The Express, with his bat, and who would have expected that?
Yes, Mark Belanger is practically 0-for-life against much of the pitching world. But he feasts on Nolan Ryan, or as much as is possible for one with his frame and swing. Belanger's whistling single that enabled the Orioles to gain a 2-2 tie in the third sent his career average against Ryan over .300.
"If I did that against everybody else," Belanger said, "I'd be a good player."
Stanhouse overheard that -- and laughed. It was all very nice that Belanger's bat was useful -- that RBI single was his 14th hit in 46 career at-bats against Ryan -- but Stan the Man Unusaul was more grateful for his glove.
"He's just one of those certain players who hits certain pitchers, Stanouse said. "That's why he got that time off near the end of the season for his leg to heal. But what he does for me (in the top of the 10th) is field a little squiggly thing and throw one guy out and go in the (second base) hole and get another one."
Stanhouse was quick to not that Lowenstein had pinch it for Belanger -- and Belanger was publicly anxious for another assist, if an indirect one. Then he put the game into perspective.
"You just don't want to get yourself in positions where you have to win three out of four," he said.
Palmer was a major reason.
"I kept us in the game, which was the primary thing when you face a guy like Ryan," he said. "I just told (Manager Earl Weaver) for the seventh, the eighth on, we would take it inning by inning. I only threw 124 pitches. I was getting a little irritation at the end of my fingers, though.
"But the arm felt fine."
Could he pitch a fifth game?
"I hope there won't be one. But I'll be ready."
There was at least minor doubt about palmer early in the game tonight.
"Yeah, I was wondering how he'd battle (after giving up two runs in the first three innings)," said catcher Rick Dempsey, who doubled in one run and threw out a base stealer in the Angel eighth.
"But when we got those two runs right back for him in the bottom of the third) he was strong again. Actually, he didn't have his best stuff -- and the question was whether he was strong enough, mentally and physically.
The affair could not have been more fitting, with the fellow who needs playoff glory the most -- probably free agent Stanhouse -- basking in it. He was unusually subdued -- or perhaps drained was the most appropriate description.
"Exciting, as usual," he said. "This is the first time under this sort of pressure for me -- and I was wondering how it would work out. Could I do it with all this on the line. I found I could. There weren't doubts, really. But let's say the crowd provided the adrenalin I needed tonight.
"Only I'm supposed to save these things, not win them."
He paused, then smiled and said: "First time, I believe, that me and my housemate have combined to win a game. Course I hardly ever see him. I hear him laugh a lot, though."
Still, there were as many sighs as laughs in the Oriole clubhouse for the longest time.
"Hey," Stanhouse said, suddenly gaining the usual zest that makes him the loudest of the Birds. He raised a beer and yelled: "Let's do the same thing again tomorrow (though it was well past midnight).
"Whatever it takes to win."