Standing in his office, dressed in street clothes instead of orange and white double-knits, suspended Oriole Manager Earl Weaver didn't feel too bad about his team's first loss of the season to the lowly California Angels.
He didn't have to. No manager in the world could have saved the Birds from dropping 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees tonight as a 23-year-old baby-faced kid named Fred Martinez (4-6) stopped the Orioles cold on six hits -- all singles -- for a 5-0 shutout.
It was the first complete game and first shutout ever for Martinez, who had given up just three hits through eight innings before allowing Baltimore that many more in the ninth.
"When you've got three hits going into the ninth inning, there ain't much managing a manager can do," said Weaver, who watched the game -- he said -- on closed circuit television.
The Angels scored one run in the first on hits by Rod Carew and Don Baylor. They increased the lead to 4-0 in the fourth as Rick Miller, Bobby Grich and Bert Campaneris pounded loser Steve Stone (21-5) for hits. They added another run in the fifth and literally knocked Stone off the mound to win their first game against the Orioles in 10 this season.
Grich, an ex-Oriole, slammed a pitch up the middle that caught Stone on his right hip and sent the Birds' ace to the grass on his knees. Stone said he was sore after the game, but the injury was diagnosed as a bruise and nothing serious. He should not miss a starting assignment.
While Stone was in, he didn't pitch with the control and savvy that helped him win 14 straight and 19 of 20 to become baseball's winningest pitcher.
In 4 2-3 innings, he allowed California four earned runs and walked four while throwing 104 pitches.
It was obvious he would have a rough night when his curve ball -- his pet pitch -- was hanging in the 90-decree heat of Memorial Stadium.
In the first inning, he looped a 30 mph curve ball to Carew, who didn't become the best hitter since Ted Williams by being suckered by eye-high breaking pitches. Carew guided the ball to left center field to a preferred area of turf between Oriole outfielders.
Stone's teammates didn't perform any better.
Weaver had barely served one inning of his three-game suspension (or three-game vacation," as he called it) for being a bad boy last weekend, when his Orioles -- nearly flawless for the last six weeks -- played as if they never heard the word "fundamental."
John Lowenstein made a fielding error and missed the cutoff on at least one occasion. Ken Singleton missed the cutoff man on a throw to the plate that Rick Dempsey happended to save. Eddie Murray cut off a throw from Singleton that would have prevented a California run from scoring when the game was still close. In short, the Orioles botched the basic nuts-and-bolts plays they usually use to win.
But Weaver defended his club's fielding. "We're on our way to setting an American League record for fielding and people are asking me about 'fielding gaffes.' I didn't see any fielding gaffes at all." Maybe Weaver wasn't used to looking at the game on television.
Weaver said he didn't name an acting manager but insisted that "everybody had their own assignment in managing the team, just like it is all season long. h
"I stayed where I wanted to stay during the game," added the manager when asked from where he viewed the game.
Did the Orioles miss their manager, often called the best in baseball? "No I don't think so," Weaver said with a smile.
Weaver will be watching this week-end's games with California on closed circuit again because earlier today he dropped his appeal of a suspension imposed by American League President Lee McPhail on Aug. 20 when Weaver had a heated argument with the umpires here in a game with the Yankees.we