California right fielder Dan Ford took great offense Wednesday when Oriole catcher Rich Dempsey asked umpires to check for the possiblity that Ford had a better idea: cork in his bat that helped produce two earlier hits.
Tonight, Ford had the last word, hitting a long home run into the left field bleachers in the fourth inning to provide the only run the Angels needed to defeat the Orioles, 2-0, and end Baltimore's eight-game winning streak.
"The first thing I said to him when I got up was that was a rotten thing to do to me," Ford said of his first-inning conversation with Dempsey.
"He just said the word was around that I was doing something illegal, which is garbage. Then, when I hit the digger (home run), I just dropped the bat right on home plate so he could see it. That wasn't any cork, that was me."
The Angels had several other outstanding performances tonight in handing the Orioles their first shutout since Aug. 29, 1980, and leaving Jim Palmer (2-2) with the loss, despite nine competent and tough innings that drew him a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,599.
Doug Rau, the old Dodger who missed last season with a shoulder injury and was called upon only 10 days ago from the Class A California League, pitched five strong innings and won his first major league game in just over two years.
Reliever Don Aase came on in the sixth and gave up only two hits the rest of the way. He struck out Al Bumbry in the eighth with Dempsey on third to end the only Oriole late-inning threat.
Still, most of the Orioles and everyone else in the stadium agreed that the most critical play of the night came in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of Angel center fielder Fred Lynn.
Rich Dauer opened the inning with a single to center and, after Ken Singleton struck out, Eddie Murray sent a sharp line drive heading toward the gap between center and right. Lynn made a diving stab to keep the ball from going to the fence, then got off his knees to throw Murray out at second base.
Palmer made a number of outstanding throws himself tonight, including a tantalizing curve ball that struck out Rod Carew with the bases loaded in the seventh, when the Angels added an insurance run. Carew went lunging for a pitch that was in the dirt for the final out.
But Palmer, who went the distance for only the second time this season, was not pleased.
"Just another complete-game loss," he said. "Now I'll have to hear how I'm too old to pitch and how I should retire."
The biggest chump of all tonight, however, may well have been Dempsey, who not only helped anger Dan Ford, but also had a lovely little public shouting match with Manager Earl Weaver before the game.
Weaver was angry with Dempsey for arriving late for the nightly pregame meeting between pitcher, manager and catcher to discuss the opposition. Weaver said something to him. Dempsey picked up a bat and rattled the dugout when he threw it.
The two went nose to nose, as if Weaver thought Dempsey was one of those dastardly umpires, and they said some very naughty things to each other before both retreated to the dugout.
"It was nothing," Dempsey said afterward. But tonight, Dan Ford got in the real last word.