Mike Flanagan blew by the Kansas City Royals last night like a nor'easter in his native New England.
On a blustery night, temperatures in the low 40s, Flanagan gave the Royals nothing but a cold shoulder and a snappy left arm, scattering seven hits as the Orioles won, 2-1.
Flanagan struck out four and walked one in registering his first victory of the season and Baltimore's third, evening its record.
It has been a chilling spring for the 1979 Cy Young Award winner. His wife Kathy had surgery for the second time in six months (the first time was during the seventh game of the World Series), and he had to leave a spring training game in the first inning to take her to the hospital.
Last Friday, he gave up seven runs in losing his first start to the Chicago White Sox. He was havinc control problems on and off the field.
But tonight he was in command: he threw 113 pitches; 73 were strikes. "I just blocked it (his wife's illness) out," he said. "I had the concentration I didn't have. Now I know I can do it again.
"The adrenalin kicked in during the seventh inning. That was what I was afraid wouldn't happen. It just kicked in. Maybe it's the Cy Young and having a little experience or maybe I'm just a little complacent, figuring I'm gonna win no matter what I do."
Flanagan said he did not feel the cold until the eighth inning. Many were down-clad but the 7,473 souls in the stands felt it much earlier, booing as the temperature at game time was announced as 44 degrees. First base umpire Bill Deegan wrapped his arms around the Royals first base coach, Jose Martinez, to try to warm him.
The Birds by nature are warm-weather beast (there are 12 Californians on the club), historically hibernating in early April. It took the Orioles three innings just to get the blood circulating. In the bottom of the third, Ken Singleton, who had three years' seasoning in Montreal, hit a fast ball from staring pitcher Larry Gura over the left field wall.
"The weather reminded me of late season games in Montreal," he said, "when everyone's thinking about the Canadiens."
Singleton hit 15 of his 35 home runs last season with Flanagan pitching, and now two of his first three this season. "That's a pretty good ratio," he said. "I hope he doesn't get arm trouble."
The Royals caught up at 1-1 in the sixth.
Frank White dribbled the ball down the third base line for an infield single. It was the fourth Royal hit of the night, and second infield safety. Flanagan got George Brett to fly to center. But, with designated hitter Hal McRae at bat, White stole second and scored on McRae's single over second base.
In the home seventh, catcher Rick Dempsey led off hitting a sharp ground ball into shallow right field. Second baseman White, part acrobat, part infielder, made the defensive play of the night, successfully diving for the ball and getting up to make the throw to first. But Dempsey made an even better play, sliding in safely.
Dempsey moved to second on Mark Belanger's sacrifice bunt and scored on Rich Dauer's single to center.
Flanagan gave up singles to Willie Wilson and White starting the eighth, but again induced Brett to fly to center on a fast ball (86 mph).
"That," said Flanagan, "was the game right there . . . It was very satisfying. After giving up seven runs last time, six would have been okay."