An injudicious interviewer asked Manager Earl Weaver today whether he was doing anything "emotionally or intellectually" to spur his Orioles out of their nine-game losing streak.
Weaver said that emotionally and intellectually he was waiting for somebody to hit a nice three-run home run.
Tonight, someone finally did.
The Orioles' hitting machine, Eddie Murray, who had warmed up with a right-handed, none-on home run in the fifth inning, went up left-handed and hit a soaring three-run drive in the seventh. And ended at nine Baltimore's worst losing streak since 1976, beating the Chicago White Sox, 7-4.
Murray has been the closest thing to a one-man offense since his grand slam opening day. This two-for-three night at the plate upped his major league-leading batting average to .519 and his slugging percentage (total bases divided by at bats) to 1.000.
Murray said he wasn't thinking about averages. "I've never been this high," he said of his average.
His first homer tonight came off Chicago reliever Kevin Hickey, a left-hander. The switch-hitting Murray worked the count to 3-2 and whacked a fast ball 25 rows back in the left-field seats to put Baltimore ahead, 4-2.
Next time up, in the seventh, with the score 4-4, he faced right-handed reliever Lamarr Hoyt from the other side. Hoyt had just walked Gary Roenicke on four pitches after Al Bumbry had singled. Murray jumped on the next pitch, a curve, and hit a towering drive that bounced out of the upper deck in right.
"I watched that one," Murray said, "because I thought it would go foul. But it was fair by a few feet."
It marked his fourth time in the major leagues Murray had homered from both sides. The four runs batted in increased his year's total to 15. He has four homers and has hit safely in all 13 games.
Best of all, it was just what Weaver had ordered.
The fiery little manager was making veiled references this afternoon to worries over whether he would keep his job if the Orioles' miseries continued. The last time they lost nine straight was in 1976, and at one point that year Weaver said he figured he had "made out my last lineup card."
He said he'd keep making them out this year, "as long as the general manager lets me."
Indeed, the Orioles had looked so bad the last two weeks that there wasn't even anyone to blame. "The whole team isn't playing well, period," said pitcher Jim Palmer. Asked if that applied to Murray, he said no, "but you can pitch around him if he and (Rich) Dauer are the only two guys on the team who are swinging the bat."
Added Dan Ford, "Nobody is doing nothing but Eddie."
Scott McGregor was the Baltimore starter, and he struggled, giving up eight hits and three runs before yielding to Sammy Stewart with none out, a man on third and a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Stewart gave up a run-scoring single, then retired the side.
Dauer saved a run with a diving grab of Tom Paciorek's grounder after Stewart gave up a leadoff double in the top of the seventh.
And winner Stewart (2-1) made it interesting again in the ninth, giving up a leadoff walk and Ron LeFlore's double to put men on second and third with none out. But, again, he retired the side.
A Memorial Stadium crowd of 24,749 watched on a perfect baseball night, lured in part by a jacket night giveaway.
Said Weaver, "I just hope it's not two weeks from Saturday before the next one. It's good winning after giving up four runs. I know our pitchers are going to come around sooner or later."
Emotionally and intellectually, no doubt.