"I'm a pitcher. That's where most satisfaction is. That's my profession," Baltimore relief winner Tim Stoddard stated, emphatically, while postgame interviewers zeroed in on his batting contribution to today's 9-6 victory over Pittsburgh.
"I'm a baseball player. This is a bigger thrill," Stoddard said, when they asked him how winning a World Series game stacked up with being on an NCAA championship basketball team.
And two out, two on and tying run at the plate in the ninth inning, how did he go after Ed Ott, the Pirate batter who could tie the game with one swing? h
"I really wanted to strike him out, because my leg was really sore," said the former North Carolina State athlete. Sore from the shot Ott hit off it in the seventh inning, just missing Stoddard's shin but catching enough leg, hard enough, that the ball went skittering over the first base for Eddie Murray to pick up and step on the bag ahead of Ott.
So Stoddard bore down, mostly with fast balls, then one 2 and 2, "I struck him out on a slider."
"When we got the lead," Stoddard said (got the lead via a six-run eighth inning to which he contributed his first major league hit, in his first major league at-bat), "I didn't want to put anybody on with walks.
"So I stuck to almost all fast balls, only about four or five sliders. I felt I had good speed on my fast ball."
It was "a 91-mile-an-hour fast ball" to a Detroit batter on which Stoddard, who likes to talk about pitching "mechanics," tore a muscle in his throwing mechanism -- the shoulder area -- the past summer. It shelved him until just before the Sept. 1 deadline for restoration to the active roster so as to be eligible for the postseason playoffs.
After light use in September, and seven straight games in the American League playoffs and this Series without a call from Manager Earl Weaver, was that fast ball of Stoddard's also restored?
Well, Stoddard shut down a Pirate attack that had piled up 14 hits the first six innings. In his three innings, he overpowered Bill Robinson and Ott for swinging strikeouts and menacing Dave Parker for a called third strike while facing 11 batters, two over the minimum, and exhibiting the control he cites as a particular Stoddard strong point.
The Parker strikeout, starting the last of the ninth for the heart of the Pittsburgh order, way key. Strike three to The Cobra "was just a good pitch for me," Stoddard said. "I put it right where I wanted it."
About that hit in the Oriole eighth that followed the John Lowenstein and Terry Crowley two-run doubles and brought in a run that tacked insurance, 8-6, onto the 7-6 lead just provide by Crowley?
"I just grabbed a helmet, Ken Singleton's thinking I'd need something in case runners had to come home. Earl Weaver told me if i was uncomfortable (batting for the first time after playing his whole big league career in the designated-hitter era) to take a couple of pitches from (Kent) Tekulve. I swung at the first pitch."
Base hit over third baseman Bill Madlock. "By accident, I think," said Stoddard.
Actually, it was Stoddard's first hit in organized ball.
In the Chicago White Sox organization, where he began in 1975 -- "in the American Association, games where we were getting killed, I batted a few time. I think I struck out every time."
The White Sox released the 6-foot-7 former all-sports star at East Chicago Washington High who went on to double in hoops and hurling at N.C. State; released him March 28, 1977. "I didn't prove myself, I guess," he said.
"I have a tendency to put on weight -- got up to 270 pounds (against a current 245); that might have had something to do with it. But I thought I had progressed well; that i never got "a real chance" with the Chisox.
Dave Parker, the Pirate right fielder who broke slowly and so allowed Kiko Garcia's fly ball to fall in safety and start the Orioles' six-run eighth inning, said he was bothered today by an injured back that hurt "every time I breathed."
Parker hurt his back catching a foul fly ball in the ninth inning of Game 3. As he made the catch, he bumped into a screen fence in foul territory.
Although Parker had two more hits today and is hitting 412 with seven hits in the Series, both safeties were to the opposite field and Parker said the injury was the reason. He couldn't swing strongly.
Pittsburgh third-base coach Joe Lonnett took the blame for Ed Ott being caught in a rundown between third and home, a blunder that cost the Pirates an out in their four-run second inning.
On Phil Garner's looping liner to center, Ott, who had doubled in two runs, momentarily broke back toward second base because he thought Garner's ball would be caught.
"I could see it would fall," said Lonnett, "but I didn't see Ed go back to second. I wanted him to run on Bumbry (Al Bumbry, the Oriole center fielder). Bumbry doesn't have a good arm. It wasn't Eddie Ott's fault he got thrown out. I screwed it up."
Jerold Hoffberger, the Oriole president who just sold the club to Edward Bennett Williams of Washington, hugged Lowenstein in the clubhouse and intoned: "If this doesn't make you feel like $12 million. . ."