The Baltimore Orioles lost a pitcher and found one today while savoring their 11th straight victory over the moribund Minnesota Twins, 7-0.
Starter Steve Stone survived a shaky second inning and departed with a sore pitching elbow. The Cy Young Award winner, who experienced elbow problems once before this spring, will be examined Monday or Tuesday in Baltimore.
Reliever Dave Ford came on and threw seven shutout innings in his longest effort in 13 months, yielding only four hits and two walks. Ford entered the game with a 7.62 earned-run average.
The Orioles mustered 14 hits for a total of 50 over the last three games. Eddie Murray has three hits for the third straight game and Rick Dempsey, the one-time Twin who annually murders his old club, clouted a home run and two doubles.
For all purposes, the game was over when Minnesota Manager John Goryl announced his starting lineup. Goryl believes in sticking to his pitching rotation and that meant today's starter was southpaw Jerry Kossman, who had lost four in a row and never has beaten Baltimore since coming to the American League. Since the Orioles were 6-1 against left-handers this season, Goryl was flouting the averages and they flouted him back.
Kossman, 37, lasted 3 1/2 innings, giving up six hits and five runs. Dempsey started a three-run third by whacking a changeup into the leftfield bleachers and a two-run double by Murray made it 3-0. In the fourth, a single by Gary Roenicke and Dempsey's double chased Kossman. Bob Bonner's sacrifice fly and Rich Dauer's double against reliever Don Cooper boosted the margin to 5-0. Stone walked three batters and yielded a single to Gary Ward in the second, but left fielder Benny Ayala cut down Roy Smalley at the plate to keep the Twins scoreless.
"Whenever you've got to take a guy out and you find pain, it's not good," said Manager Earl Weaver. "He might be able to take his next turn. But even though the pain might not show up every pitch, it will still bother you mentally. You'll be looking for the pain and it will affect your control."
Stone admits he is worried about the elbow. "I've made 140 starts since 1976 without missing a turn. But if this arm doesn't stop hurting, I can't make many more," he said.
"I'm not waiting for the pain to happen. It's there. My right hand is swollen and my ring won't fit on my finger. There is something wrong with the elbow and I want to find out what it is."
This was Ford's longest assignment since he pitched his only major-league complete game against Chicago on April 18, 1980. It was encouraging because his long-range assignment is as a starter, when there is space in the Baltimore rotation.
"He's got a tough job, because he can go nine days without ptiching," Weaver said. "He'll eventually be a good starting pitcher in the major leagues and he'll be much better as a starting pitcher."
"I've had to adjust, because it's difficult to warm up one day, even if I don't pitch, and come back the next," Ford said. "I'm learning a little more about it, but I don't have the rubber arm some of the other guys seem to have."
"Dave had a good fast ball and a good slider and he changed speeds with both," Dempsey said. "He was more of a pitcher out there today instead of a thrower."
Dempsey was more of a hitter, continuing his rampage against the team that traded him away in 1972. Dempsey, a .242 lifetime batter, entered this season with a .329 mark against the Twins, and he is sub-.300 against everyone else.
"It used to be a vendetta to come in here and prove to Calvin (Griffith) that he got rid of a pretty good ballplayer," Dempsey said. "But that adrenaline isn't there now. I'm just glad to be playing. I'm relaxed, I'm rocking back and I'm seeing the ball. It's all fallen into place and I hope it lasts."
The Orioles, only 19 percentage points behind first-place Cleveland, send their other sore-armed righthander, Jim Palmer, against the Twins Sunday. If any team can cure a pitcher's problems, this one can. The Twins' luck is so bad that Hosken Powell, leaving the batter's box in the eight on what seemed a likely hit to deep short, tripped and sprained his ankle, to be thrown out by shortstop Bonner and booed by the crowd of 9,655, one-third youngsters in free.