Jim Palmer, to be entrusted with the chore of turning off the rain of Pittsburgh base hits when the World Series is resumed Tuesday night in Baltimore, said this evening, "I hope to do exactly what I did last time -- except . . . ."
The veteran Oriole right-hander went on, "Except not throw them all those fast balls. I'll have to change speeds. I learned that in the second inning of the second game." That's when Willie Stargell, John Milner and Bill Madlock jumped on three Palmer fast ones for successive singles to build a two-run inning.
So, is he especially up for the possible clincher in this Series extended to a sixth game by today's 7-1 Pirate assault? "I'll let you know about the third inning," he said.
If I hold them to two runs again, though, and we score one, what can you do? When you make good pitches to good hitters, that's it. The rest of it is breaks."
Mike Flanagan, today's loser after shutting out the Pirates through five innings, made no excuses except that in the chill conditions, "It's hard to break a sweat, and nobody wants to throw half-speed. But I hadn't lost my stuff when they got the two runs in the sixth inning. I was ready to go back out there if I hadn't been hit for.
"Were those good pitches in the sixth inning?" he responded when asked about those tagged for a single by Dave Parker, sacrifice fly by Stargell and tie-breaking single by Madlock.
"I'd throw 'em again. They were good pitches.
"If it took a shutout to win, that would have been asking an awful lot."
Against a team batting .339 for the Series that is no understatement.
"If Rick Dempsey didn't double with two out in the seventh (putting the tying run on base with Flanagan due up) or if he'd made the third out, I'd still have been in there," Flanagan said. Instead, his successors allowed the Pirates to put the game away by yielding two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth.
Manager Earl Weaver disagreed. Flanagan," Weaver said, "was starting to get tired. I would have hit for him even if Dempsey would have got on. He'd dropped to 83-84 on the gun."
That's the mph velocity of his pitches as measured by radar.
After the powerful pinch-hitting success of John Lowenstein and Terry Crowley pulled out the fourth game, Weaver was asked why he went with Pat Kelly as the left-handed batter for Flanagan in the sixth-inning clutch? p"Because," said Weaver, "I didn't pick Lowenstein or Crowley. That's why.' So there.
Weaver took some interview heat about the Pirate half of the pivotal sixth, in which a 1-0 Oriole lead turned to a one-run deficit.
Why not pass the torrid Madlock withfirst base open to pitch to rookie Steve Nicosia, one of the few Buccos not hitting (1 for 12) with Parker on second and two out after Stargell's tying sacrifice fly? "We pitched to Madlock because we chose to pitch to him." So there.
And someone else asked why he pitched to Stargell, ahead of Madlock, with second and third occupied, one out?
"It was left-hander (Flanagan) to left-hander (Stargell), Weaver said. "It never entered my mind to put another runner on base. So after Madlock got the hit, maybe it was and maybe it wasn't smart.
"But pitch around Madlock? No. So we haven't been able to get him out. We've got trouble pitching to all of them."
Bird catcher Rick Dempsey agreed with Flanagan that "Mike didn't lose his stuff. He was still throwing hard. And the pitch (Tim) Foli walked on (to lead off the winning rally) was a strike."
Palmer, while refusing to characterize the Pirates was the all-time best hitting club he has seen -- he cited the Detroit club of the Kaline-NorthrupFreeham heyday and some of the Boston fence-wrecking crews -- paid a little extra tribute to .320-plus lifetime hitter Madlock:
"Parker, while certainly an excellent batter (two-time NL leader in average), seems to have more 'holes' (weaknesses a pitcher can try to exploit) than Madlock; he doesn't seem to have any holes."
Madlock, asked if he considers himself the National League's best hitter for average, was modest: "It's not like with Rod Carew in the other league; I'm one of about 15 in our league who could aruge about it. We have one right here in Dave Parker."
One factor Palmer won't have Tuesday is the luck" of the artificial surface. But, in getting a Baltimore weather report (no precipitation since the Series shifted here), one scribe questioning Oriole publicist Bob Brown amended:
"Yeah, but did Earl Campbell tear up the (Memorial Stadium) turf today?"
As to the turf here. Madlock was asked if it was as slippery around third base as Oriole Doug DeCinces made it look.
"Well, it had to be a little, with this weather," Madlock (who has fielded well) said, diplomatically. "But I don't know. He plays deeper than I do."