Mark "the Bird" Fidrych, the pitcher known best for his on-the-mound antics, made it back to the big league tonight at Tiger Stadium.
Fidrych, who talks to baseballs and spends considerable time manicuring the pitcher's mound, lost 5-4, to the Red Sox tonight when Jim Dwyer hit a one-out eighth-inning home run to break a 4-4 tie.
Fidrych completed the eighth with Aurelio Lopez coming on in the ninth. Fidrych threw 120 pitches, including 80 strikes, and allowed three earned runs.
"At least I'm consistent." Fidrychsaid after the game, drinking a beer in the clubhouse. "I got bombed, but Istill threw more strikes. I'm glad I could show the fans I can still pitch.
"I'm just sorry we were down, 4-0, inthe second," Fidrych said. "I just said, 'Oh, sugar' and hoped to do better. It was weird, you know? They could have yanked me in the second, but I held on to the eigth. I just wish I could have gone nine."
In his first regular season start forDetroit since May 22, 1979, Fidrych yielded five hits and four unearned runsin the first three innings.
But the crowd of 50,749 -- the second-largest of the season at Tiger Stadium -- was most gracious, allowing for his nervousness and acknoledging that "The Bird" is still the staduim favorite he was when he was the American League rookie of the year in 1976 as a 21-year-old.
"It's such a good feeling to be back,so good I can't even express it," said Fidrych of his return from the Tigers'AAA farm club at Evansville, Ind., where he had posted a mark of 6-7 with an ERA of 3.92.
Nicknamed the Bird in 1976 because of the way his curly hair resembles Big Bird on "sesame Street," Fidrych is on his fourth major league comeback attempt since arm injuries first plagued him three years ago.
During his rookie season, Fidrych posted a 19-9 mark with an ERA of 2.34 in three major league years he was 27-16 and had a 2.79 ERA.
In the spring of 1977, Fidrych injured his knee, underwent surgery and returned to the team in May, only to develop tendinitis in his right shoulder.
He tried a second comeback with the Tigers in 1978, but redeveloped arm problems that kept him in Evensville most of that year and 1979. After he was unimpressive in spring training this year, the Tigers returned him to the minors where he has steadily gotten stronger.
Though Fidrych started horribly, losing four of his first five starts, he got better with the help of a hypnotist. Following an impressive performance against Springfield two Saturdays ago,the Tigers decided to give Fidrych another try with the majors.
"I've worked very hard to get back uphere," Fidrych said. "I've put in my innings down in Evansville, and I think I've proven I'm ready."
Fidrych, who will be 26 on Thursday,received a warm welcome from Tiger fans. In the fifth inning, to the stadium-wide cheers of "Go, Bird, Go." Fidrych pitched two strikes to Fred Lynn, Lynn then countered with a single to center, and stole second.
Fidrych, still calm, just rocked backon his heels, picked up catcher Lance Parrish's signals, and struck out Carlton Fisk to end the inning.
"I was really surprised," said Parish "I have caught him the past couple of years. When he threw the fast ball it wasn't really popping. And he'd get his fastball up and his slider wasn't moving.
"He was throwing the ball as well as I've seen him throw it," said Parrish, who caught Fidrych's last victory in the majors, a 3-2 conquest of the Texas Rangers on April 12, 1978.
Fidrych gave up 11 hits and walked only the first batter he faced in the game and struck out three.
One out after Rick Burelson's leadoff walk, Lynn doubled and one out when Fidrych was unable to handle his grounder back to the box.
Wagner's error on butch Hobson's easy grounder set Boston up for its two secon-inning runs. Glenn Hoffman doubled him to third and rookie Dave Stapleton's two-out ground single up the middle gave Boston a 4-0 lead. d
Mike Torrez kept Detroit hitless until Champ Summers hit his 11th home run with two out in the fourth inning and Detroit cut the gap to 4-3 in the fifth when Lou Whitaker doubled home two runs with two out.