The Chicago White Sox chilled Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan with five runs in the first three innings today and went on to an 8-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in wet 30-degree temperatures.
It rained, it snowed and it sleeted at Comiskey Park today, but the Orioles were done in by Lamar Johnson's three-run home run in the first inning and Wayne Nordhagen's two-run shot in the second.
"These conditions are ridiculous," said Oriole Manager Earl Weaver, who thought the game should have been postponed. "The ball kept hitting soft mud spots, spinning, twisting. Terrible."
But of more concern to Weaver than the weather or the infield was the pitching of his ace southpaw, Flanagan, who won more games last season (23) than any other American Leaguer.
Flanagan was given a fast start in the first inning when Mark Belanger singled and Ken Singleton followed with a 450-foot blast eight rows into the seldom reached upper deck of Comiskey Park. Singleton hit 15 of his 35 homers last season when Flanagan was on the mound.
However, Flanagan couldn't hold his lead through the White Sox first. He walked Alan Bannister and Jim Morrison, each on five pitches. Johnson then ripped the first pitch to him, a knee-high fast ball, off the upper-deck railing in left-center and Chicago led, 3-2.
Baltimore catcher Rick Dempsey countered with a two-run homer to left off winning pitcher Ken Krovic, again giving Flanagan the lead, 4-3, in the second inning.
But Flanagan couldn't hold that skinny lead, either, giving up a third-inning, two-run home run to Nordhagen, who collected three hits. Although the Orioles argued that the ball had bounced off the top of the wall in left field, a television replay showed that it hit a seat in the second row.
"It didn't go in," Weaver said. "The ump missed the call." When reporters told Weaver that the ball, indeed, had cleared the wall and struck a seat, Weaver replied, "He (the umpire) told me it hit a kid in the chest. I said that was crazy."
Flanagan, who gave up seven hits, seven earned runs and three walks, was upset with himself afterwards.
"My philosophy is don't walk anybody, but all three men I walked scored," he said. "Guys like Kenny (Singleton) were killing themselves trying to score runs for me. But today . . . I just didn't have it."