The Baltimore Orioles continued their succulent pickings in the land of the baseball lotus-eaters tonight, beating the comatose, inept California Angeles, 6-5, in 10 innings in a horrid game that the Birds made every effort to lose.
The final Angel gift from heaven, on an evening when the host should have waltzed to victory, came in the 10th with two men of (courtesy of walks). Doug DeCines hit a soft, lunging liner to left field that any outfielder should have caught.
California's Don Baylor, the man for whom the DH spot must have been created, played the ball in his customary fashion: ooops, uh-oh, better run in, no-no, not too fast. The ball, which should have hit him in the waist, instead skipped inches in front of his glove for a game-winning hit. t
An irate Angel scorer at first called the ball an error on general principals, but then changed it to a hit since Baylor didn't arrive at the scene of the crime in time to let his lethel glove do its work.
The Birds blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning of this fiasco and escaped from a man-on-second, tie-score, none out jam thanks to the Angels' blunders and the relief pitching of Tippy Martinez and Tim Stoddard
This started as a bad day for the Orioles: Manager Earl Weaver learned that he has suspended for three game for last Saturday's "Magnificent Obsession" performance in Baltimore. The Orioles plan to appeal, which merely means that Weaver's vacation will take place later this season, and not begin this Friday, as the original directive stated.
"When I was younger, I got suspended. Now I don't," said Weaver. "I refuse to accept a suspension or acknowledge it. It's just a play on words. Nothing will change.
"Last year, I wasn't suspended. My health just failed me for three days, so I took some time off," said Weaver, reffering to last season's three-day suspension. "My health may fail me again. I can sorta feel it coming on . . . but not quite yet. The race is too close."
Will Weaver manage every Oriole move, even in absentia? "You can say that he grinned. "I can't. You bet. I'll be watching on closed circuit TV. And I might telephone my wife to discuss it. I might say, 'Marianna, if you were me, would get Tippy (Martinez) up in the bullpen" But you never can tell . . . What if I called home and accidentally dialed our bullpen phone number instead? I make lots of mistakes."
For a while tonight, starter Mike Flanagan was making the mistakes.
After his second pitch of the night was drilled into the left-field seats for a ground-rule double, he threw 10 straight balls, filling the bases and falling behind Don Baylor, 2-0. On the next pitch, that's how much Baltimore was behind -- 2-0 -- as Baylor crushed a two-run line single to left.
The fourth was even better. On what should have been an inning-ending routine double-play ball, Duar lost count of outs, never threw to first on the pivot, and ran half-way to the dugout before he realized no one else had budged.
DeCinces then saved Dauer's face with a duplicate of his famous '79 playoff grab as he robber Bert Campaneris of a double by diving to make a stab over the foul line, then, from foul territory, throwing submarine across-the-body from one knee to Murray, who made a grade-A spoon, edgeing Campy by a foot.
While Flanagan got miracles, though-luck Frank Tanana had amazing misfortune. He retired the first five Orioles in a row, and then, after a string of four bad hitters, got the next 11 Birds before having three more consecutive disasters. On the 16 outs, he looked like Whitey Ford; to the other seven men, he looked like Eli Grba.
With two out in the second, Gary Roenicke walked, DeCinces tripled off the top of the left field fence, then scored to tie the game, 2-2, as the aged and inept Campaneris failed to make a play on gimpy Rick Dempsey's grounder off his glove in the hole.
That was nothing compared to the barrage that greeted Tanana's first four pitches of the sixth inning -- producing three runs and a transformed game.
Singleton, in a slump and unable to get around on a fast ball (three whiffs tonight), anticipated a rainbow curve and crunched it over the 386-foot sign in left. Murray took a ball, then lashed a single to left. Next came Bennie Ayala, who should be forced to wear a warning sign that says, "Beware, do not throw this man a change-up." Tanna threw him a change-up. Ayala hit it so far that he just rocked back on his rear foot and admired its flight far over the left field fence for his ninth homer and a 5-2 Oriole lead.
On the most uncharacteristic of fundamental managerial and mental error's the Orioles blew that three-run lead in the ninth.
Flangan, who had nothing, struggled to that last inning, but without question, should have been lifted after a pair of leadoff hits by Grich and Bobby Clark. But, Weaver let Flanagan pitch to lefty Rick Miller, reasoning, perhaps, that Miller was unlikely to hit a game-tying homer. But what about a no-out RBI double to left center? That blow changed everything.
Tippy Martinez entered just in time to give up a two-run single to aged Bert Campaneris. To make matters worse, DeCines failed to cut off Roenicke's very late and weak throw to the plate, thus allowing Campaneris to move to second.
The O's escaped, thanks only to Angel incompetence. Stan Cilburn not only could not sacrifice bunt correctly, but couldn't even ground to the right side, instead bouncing to short. Martinez got Dickie Thon on a comebacker, and reliever Tim Stoddard became extremely mean and blew away Lansford on strikes to send what should have been an easy, gift Baltimore victory into arduous extra innings.