Dave Ford sat in the training room, his right elbow immersed in a bucket of ice water. The mellow sound on the radio was interrupted by good news. ". . . And at Memorial Stadium tonight, Dave Ford pitched a four-hitter as the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox, 5-2." f

"Hey," Ford said, looking up at the gaggle of reporters, "who's that guy?"

"That guy" had just pitched his first complete major league game. It was the Orioles' fourth straight victory, and gave them sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time this season.

Ford's very anonymity spoke volumes about the quality and depth of the Oriole pitching staff.

Ford was making only his fifth major league start -- his first was against the Chisox in 1978. "He could be a starting pitcher for many major league clubs," Ray Miller, the Oriole pitching coach said, "and not just the fourth or fifth starter."

For the Orioles, he is a spot starter and long reliever. He has no number in the rotation. "I don't number people," said manager Earl Weaver.

"He'll get the job as soon as he does what some guys did in the playoffs last year," Weaver added.

People such as Ford and Sammy Stewart, Weaver says, are what baseball people mean when they say "you can never have enough pitching."

Miller said "the beauty of the situation is that he'll get 150 innings pitched, and eight to 10 starts and he'll learn the league without getting thrown in there. That's what (Mike) Flanagan and (Dennis) Martinez and (Jim) Palmer did. It's nice to be in that position."

It is a position Ford accepts. Even as he taped the Orioles' schedule to his locker with the adhesive borrowed from the trainer's room, he understood his place on the team's calendar.

"We have five solid starters when they're healthy," he said. "Martinez and (Scott) McGregor have been hurt, that's why I have two starts. I plan on them being healthy and me being in the bullpen."

In his first 1980 start in Chicago last Sunday, Ford, a control pitcher who sometimes has trouble controlling his knuckle-curve, walked three and hit a batter in the fifth inning before being replaced.

Tonight, he was getting the knuckle-curve where he wanted it, low, and forcing a lot of grounders. He threw 100 pitches (60 fast balls, 31 knuckle-curves) and walked none.

He gave up a run in the fourth on consecutive doubles by Molinaro and Lamar Johnson, and another in the seventh on Chet Lemon's first home run this season. He struck out three of the next five batters and did not allow another runner.

"I was a little ticked," he said. "It was a bad pitch and he (Lemon) hit it well."

The Orioles won last year with pitching and power. Tonight they were true to form.

The Oriole offense is very simple, Ken Singleton says. "A walk and a home run, a walk and a home run. We rarely have sustained rallies. We make our hits count."

The Orioles made Singleton a prophet tonight: four of their five runs were the result of homers. Eddie Murray hit a two-run home run in the first inning (Al Bumbry had walked to lead off the game). Bumbry and Singleton hit bases-empty home runs in the fifth. Singleton leads the league with four.

Bumbry also scored in the third on Rich Dauer's double, after he had walked and stolen second for the second time.

Bumbry, the lead-off man and the man who puts the go in the "Go Orioles" cheer, has seven this season. He had 43 all last year.

"If I can get on first more, I've got a chance to steal more," he said. "Last year in spring training, I got one walk and Earl made a big thing of it. This year, I wanted to walk more, and not swing at as many high balls. Last year, I swung at a lot of high balls out of the strike zone, and hit a lot of fly balls to left field."

Bumbry has homered the last two games. Last week, he was hitting less than his weight, 175. He is now hitting .280. "It's early in the season," he said. "If I go zero for four, I'll go below .200 again. I'll be back in the I's, as we call it." That's modern baseball jargon for batting .100 to 199.

All five Oriole runs were scored off loser Richard Dotson, who beat them last week in Chicago.

Seattle Mariners to sweep a double header from the Minnesota Twins tonight, 3-1 and 3-2.

In pitching his second complete game, Bannister struck out eight and walked one. The Twins' Bombo Rivera ruined the shutout with an eighth-inning homer.

In the second game, Bochte scored one run and doubled home another as the Mariners came from behind. Bannister, 2-0, pitched a six-hitter in the opener, striking out eight and walking one, outdueling Minnesota's Roger Erickson, 0-2.