Someone mentioned to Ken Singleton that the Orioles had hit their three-run homer of the season tonight.
"Is that right?" the Baltimore right fielder replied. "Well, that means there'll be plenty more where that came from."
There might also be plenty more victories where tonight's came from. For the third straight evening, the Orioles brought back memories of 1979, humbling the Detroit Tigers, 9-1, before 29,384 happy fans who also behaved as though the clock had been turned back a year.
The Birds' fifth triumph in seven games raised their record to 19-21, the closest they have been to .500 since May 7. It also kept them six games behind the first-place New Yorker Yankees in the American League East Division. The Tigers' fourth straight loss dropped them to last in the division.
The win was vintage Baltimore -- strong pitching by Starter Jim Palmer, tight defense and clutch hitting by Singleton and first baseman Eddie Murray, whose fifth-inning shot into the bleachers broke the three-run homer drought.
"We're getting some good pitched games and we're starting to hit with men oil base," said Singleton, whose grounder under shortstop Alan Trammell's glove drove in two runs before Murray put the game away. "It's just a matter of getting the hits at the right time, like my single.I thought trammell had a good shot at it, but those are the kind I need."
It wasn't the kind Tiger starter Milt Wilcox Needed. After surrendering the game's first run on Singleton's doubleplay grounder in the first inning, he had caged the Birds for the next three innings. But after hitting Rich Dauer with a pitch just prior to Singleton's seeing-eye grounder, he appeared less than pleased with Trammell's effort on the ball. Murray reaped the benefits on the next pitch.
"I don't know if he was thinking about it, and I'm not sure I care," said Murray, who forced Palmer into a bases-loaded situation in the first inning when he treated Champ Summers' potential double play grounder as if it had a communicable disease. Palmer pitched out of trouble, however.
"We're slowly but surely starting to hit," Murray explained. "My problem is that I've been trying to do too much with men on base. I'm trying too hard. I've got to try and relax a little more up there."
He and his teammates can spend a peaceful, easy summer if Palmer continues to throw as he did tonight. He allowed seven hits, struck out a season-high eight, and after some early wildness caused him problems in the second and third innings, settled down to turn the Tigers into paper.
"i wasn't that loose early, and I couldn't get the ball where I wanted it," he said as he sat in the Trainer's room icing his pitching arm. "When I got my rhythm I started to move the ball better. Having all those runs didn't hurt, either. When you have a lead, you can make mistakes that won't cost you.
Nothing cost the Birds last night.For every move they made, the Tigers paid the price. When the muscles in third baseman Doug DeCince's back tightened and he had to leave the game, replacement Lenn Sakata, who had arrived here from Rochester at 2:30 p.m., doubled to start the winning rally.
Lee May showed signs of life at bat, with two hits, and even on the basepaths, legging out a double. And when Rick Dempsey, the former starting catcher, plays the outfield for the first time since Sept. 19, 1976, and lives to tell about it, there can't be any doubt that "Orioles Magic, Feel it Happen," as the team song blared incessantly over the loud-speakers all night, is for real.
Maybe it's time the rest of the league learned the words.