Gary Roenicke and the Baltimore Orioles awoke from their home run slumber today, overpowering the Oakland A's, 7-4, to even their West Coast trip record at 3-3.
Roenicke, who hit 25 home runs for the pennant-winning Orioles two years ago and another 10 last year, smashed his first of the season in the second inning today to tie the game at 2-2. Roenicke had played 53 previous games this season, with 147 at-bats, before today's homer.
The Orioles, who had not hit a home run on this road trip, also got homers from Ken Singleton and Eddie Murray. Murray's blast in the sixth put the Orioles on top for good, 6-4. All three were two-run homers.
Before the game, Oriole Manager Earl Weaver wrote the names of Murray, Roenicke and Singleton on a piece of paper and give it to a Baltimore newspaperman. All three of those homered and Weaver was asked how he knew they would.
"These tell me," he said as he patted a black leather pouch in which he carries statistical readouts.
All three homers were off Mike Norris, the runner-up in last year's Cy Young Award voting. Norris (9-4) hadn't lost since May 30, which, even considering the strike, is remarkable.
The homers by Roenicke and Singleton followed botched fielding plays that weren't errors. Third baseman Dave McKay couldn't field a hard smash by Jose Morales in the second that was ruled a hit before Roenicke homered. And second baseman Shooty Babitt dropped the ball trying to complete a double play in the third before Singleton connected.
"Those things bother you," said Norris. "But they're not supposed to affect you. I just didn't have my good stuff today. My screwball wasn't going where I wanted it to."
Oriole reliever Sammy Stewart had plenty of "good stuff" to stop the A's in the last five innings.
"Who ever heard of a middle reliever making a million dollars?" Weaver asked. "I might lose my job for saying this, but he's one who deserves it."
Stewart entered the game at the Oakland Coliseum with no outs in the fifth inning after starter Mike Flanagan felt a twinge in his left (pitching) elbow. Oakland team physician Dr. Thomas Richmond said Flanagan should be able to pitch his next scheduled start.
All four hits off Stewart were singles and he lowered his earned run average to 1.84.
Stewart walked Dwayne Murphy and surrendered a single to Cliff Johnson that drove in Rob Picciolo from second with the run that tied it, 4-4. Picciolo had led off the inning with a single off Flanagan.
Once Stewart got his two-run lead, he was almost untouchable as he won his third against four defeats.
"He could win 20 in the big leagues as a starter," Weaver said. "Sammy is at the point in his career where he could start a little controversy. He has to start making a little money."
Weaver said Stewart's only start this year was a mistake. Not only did he lose the game, but he wasn't available for long relief two days later when he was needed.
"I think if a team has this kind of pitching, the only thing missing is a long reliever," said Stewart. "If I owned this team, I'd be a long reliever. Any other team, I'd be out there(starting) every fourth day."
Long relievers usually earn as much as backup catchers.
"Like Earl says," commented Stewart, "if a guy is worth the money to the team, he should get it."
The A's took a 2-0 lead in the first on Tony Armas' daily homer, his third in three days and 17th of the season. He leads the league with 53 RBI, 11 in the last eight games.
The outcome disappointed a crowd of 35,325 who showed up on jacket day despite local televising of the game.