For the Baltimore Orioles, this has been a spring of missed opportunities, of too many men left on base, of key hits not materializing as they did a year ago.
Tonight, the Orioles made the most of the possibilities, five Minnesota errors plus several other Twin sins, and notched six unearned runs to give Scott McGregor his first victory of the season, 10-3.
There are laughers and there are laughers. The Twins, it seemed, must have called dial-a-joke just before the game.
"You don't like to laugh when they play as bad as they did," said Al Bumbry, who had three Oriole hits to rais his average to .333. "But, we do appreciate it: 'Here, take this. And here's another one.'
"It was good to score 10 runs, on 15 hits. That was a positive sign we're coming out of our slump."
The Orioles stand 10-13.
They scored their first run, in the first inning, off second baseman Pete Mackanin as he made two errors. Despite his charity, the Orioles left the bases loaded against lefthander Geoff Zahn.
But in the second the Twins said -- seven runs' worth -- "Ah, but you must."
Rick Dempsey (.206) led off with a double into the left-field corner. He went to third on Kiko Garcia's opposite-field single to right.
Bumbry, who has now hit in 11 straight games, sent a single through the hole at second, scoring Dempsey and moving Garcia to third.
With the count 2-1 on Rich Dauer, Bumbry attempted to steal second. Catcher Butch Wynegar threw to second and Bumbry appeared to be one dead bird: except that he stopped in his tracks, retreated in a rundown, and first baseman Ron Jackson managed to miss the tag. "Score that no play," called the announcer.
Dauer hit what appeared to be a sure double play ball to shortstop Roy Smalley. Politely, he bobbled it away, allowing Garcia to score and Bumbry to go to second.
With the count 1-0 on Ken Singleton, Bumbry and Dauer pulled off the Orioles' second double steal of the year. Wynegar's throw to third hit Bumbry in the back and he came on to score. When Singleton bounced out to the beleaguered Zahn for the first out of the inning, the crowd of 10,720 cheered.
Eddie Murray walked and took second after first baseman Jackson caught Gary Roenicke's shop foul behind the plate and ignored Murray, who had tagged up. Dauer and Murray scored on Doug DeCinces' bloop double to center, making the score 6-0.Designated hitter Benny Ayala capped the inning with a two-run blast over the left-center wall.
"Thanks goodness, we got some breaks tonight," said Manager Earl Weaver. "Somebody finally made some errors against us, plus we finally got some bloops. We were due for some breaks, but we forced some, too. On Smalley's error, we were running on that play.
"When you get hits with men on base, it helps. It's what we've been lacking."
A case in point: Ayala's first home run of the season, with DeCinces aboard.
"I thought after we scored those runs on errors, he (Zahn) wouldn't be too fine with his pitches," said Ayala, whose two hits raised his dismal .182 average. Zahn threw a fast ball high and away and Ayala "was ready to drive it."
McGregor gave up a run in the third inning and two in the eighth. He allowed eight hits before being relieved by Tim Stoddard in the ninth.
McGregor, now 1-1, has been suffering from tendinitis in his left elbow all spring. "Toward the end it bothered him a little, that's why I took him out," Weaver said. "It still bothers him to go overhead. But if he can pitch like that without the windup, fine, he pitched good."
McGregor said it was "the perfect game for me to have. We got a big lead, and I could throw the fast ball. That's what I needed to get the arm in shape. It doesn't swell up and it doesn't get aggravated. It just needs to get pounded out."
Tonight, for a change, the Orioles did some pounding.