Bad breaks and bad bounces dominated the conversation in the Baltimore locker room tonight with most of the O's taking a philosophical attitude about their 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates that evened the World Series at 3-3.
"it's all part of the game of baseball," said Manager Earl Weaver, dragging on a cigarette. "The first night we got the hops, tonight they got them."
The key hop in the game, according to most of the Orioles, came in the top of the seventh inning with Omar Moreno on first and Pirate shortstop Tim Foli at bat. Foli chopped a high hopper over the mound that pitcher Jim Palmer just tipped.
Shortstop Kiko Garcia, who had come over to cover second since Moreno was running with the pitch, found himself standing on the bag with the ball hopping towards him and Moreno bearing down.
"I was trying to stay on the base to get the force play," Garcia said. "The ball hit jim's glove and kind of bounced a little funny. It just ticked my glove and went through my legs. I guess I took my eye off it for a second when it hit Jim's glove."
The ball went underneath Garcia as Moreno slid safely into second. Second baseman Rich Dauer, backing the play up, tried to throw Foli out at first but was too late. Instead of perhaps getting a double play, the Orioles were in a hole first and second, nobody out.
"I just barely touched it," said Palmer. "I don't think I really slowed it down at all.I went as high as I could for it but couldn't get it. It was kind of a routine grounder, I guess Kiko had his eye on the runner or something."
"If jim fields it or doesn't touch it at all its a double play, either way," said Garcia, shrugging. "But it didn't turn out that way. Then came (Dave) Parker's play."
Parker, batting next, hit a curving, rapidly dying line drive that skipped past Dauer into right-center. Moreno scored and Foli went to third. From there, he scored on Willie Stargell's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 Pirate lead.
"I thought it was going to be routine line drive right to me but then it started dying," said dauer, who went down to try and block the ball. "It was a knuckleball. I went down on one knee to try and stop it but once it hit the ground that was the las I saw of it."
And after those tow plays that was the last the Orioles saw of the Pirates as Kent Tekulve came in to shut them down. The O's managed only one hit over the last three innings, while the visitors added two insurance runs on Palmer in the eight inning.
Palmer took the loss in stride, saying he was pleased with the way he pitched. "I had great command of my pitches tonight," he said. "I only threw two bad pitches all night, both of them in the eight inning.
"Did i pitch well enough to win? no, we didn't score any runs. It's all relative you know. I pitched well enough to win in the second game, I only gave up two runs in the second game, but we only had two runs when I went out so it wasn't good enough. You can't score two runs and no runs and expect to beat the Pirates."
None of the Orioles was about to panic in spite of scoring just one run in the last two games. "You guys are asking us the same questions now that you were asking the Pirates two days ago," third baseman Doug DeCinces said. "I don't believe in momentum or anything like that.
Even though a lot of their guys have been popping off about how great they are. I think it's clear these two teams are evenly matched. That's why this World Series is going seven games. Key plays have made the difference so far and key plays will make the difference tomorrow."
DeCinces did admit to being frustrated over his team's inability to get to Pirate starter John Candelaria the first six innings.
"We let him get away," he said. "We hit the ball hard but we hit it right at people all night. He was definitely hitable and we didn't get any runs off him. That was bad."
Weaver also admitted concern about his club's hitting. "It don't look too good right now does it?" he asked. "We need the one big hit to get us going, I think. We still haven't gotten it the last couple of days. Look, Saturday we bomb Tekulve, tonight we couldn't touch him. How can you predict what's going to happen tomorrow?"
No one was making predictions but DeCinces pointed out one thing he thought significant: "Not too many teams have beaten us three times in a row this season," he said. "I don't expect the Pirates to do it either."
Weaver was asked if that thought was comforting at this point. "No, he said, "because I didn't want to lose two in a row.
"What is comforting, though, is that we still only need one more win. Just one more. We've won 108 games this season. All I want is 109.
"I hope that isn't too much to ask."