Joe Nolan played in Yankee Stadium for the first time in his life this weekend. Some guys would get goose bumps. Today, Nolan got the Goose.
Seventeen hours after the last game ended, the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees were again tied, 3-3, going deep into extra innings. With one out in the 11th, Ken Singleton singled off Rich Gossage, who pitched 3 2/3 innings Saturday night. Manager Earl Weaver sent Nolan up to pinch hit for fellow catcher Rick Dempsey.
Nolan had never faced Gossage. No one said a word. He knew what to expect: fast balls. He hit the fifth one, a 3-1 pitch, over the right field wall and the Orioles won, 5-3.
"Pinch hitting is hard against anybody," Nolan said. "It's hard in Double-A ball. You're up against one of the best relievers in baseball. He gave it up this time. Next time, he'll get me."
As Nolan spoke, Terry Crowley, the man who didn't hit because Weaver did not want to make a three-man move, stuck out his hand, smiled and said: "The grip feels right."
Crowley, who knows a thing or two about hitting, said: "Last night, Ken Griffey, who played with Joe in Cincinnati, came to first base when I was playing and asked how he was doing. I told him he was coming around, he had been struggling. He said, 'You've got to be kidding. Joe can crush the ball.' "
The home run, Nolan's third of the year, was the Orioles' seventh pinch-hit homer in 1982, tying the club record for a season.
Early this morning, the Yankees had beaten the Orioles, 4-3, in the 16th inning of the game begun Saturday night. With seven extra innings one game and two the next, they managed to turn the weekend into a "four-game" series, of which the Orioles won two and lost one.
The winner today was Tippy Martinez, who in his last seven appearances has given up just one run, gaining two victories and two saves.
"I definitely was pooped," he said. "Rip (Cal Ripken Jr.) said Gossage wasn't throwing quite as hard as far as busting people in. He probably was pooped, too."
Gossage refused to admit to fatigue. "I pitch everybody the same," he said. "Joe Nolan or Eddie Murray." (Murray, assuming his ailing mother's condition permits, is expected to rejoin the Orioles in Cleveland Monday.)
Everyone looked pooped, at least at the plate. The Orioles got a run in the first. The Yankees went ahead, 3-1, in the third, Mike Flanagan's only bad inning and it wasn't that bad; he went 9 1/3, giving up five hits. The Yankees scored on a single by Andre Robertson, a double by Willie Randolph, two walks (one intentional, one not), two sacrifice flies and a hit batter. So much for their offense.
The Orioles caught up in the seventh. Gary Roenicke and Ripken singled. With Singleton at bat, starter Tommy John threw a wild pitch, allowing Roenicke to score and Ripken to go to second. But catcher Barry Foote committed a far greater sin. He picked up the ball behind the plate and flung it, as if it were a thing far too foul to touch. It landed between third base and the pitcher's mound; Ripken landed at third. He scored the tying run on Lenn Sakata's sacrifice fly.
But Foote's error was not the norm. Neither team looked sluggish in the field.
There were several marvelous plays: a diving catch by Roy Smalley at third off a line drive by Roenicke; another diving catch by Randolph at second to frustrate Singleton in the seventh, and a running catch by right fielder Dave Collins two batters later. The Orioles had their share too: Ripken and Rich Dauer made bad hops look easy and Sakata made a diving catch off Collins in the sixth. Plays like that kept the score low and tied.
Martinez came in to pitch with one out in the 10th and Griffey on first.
Flanagan had walked Willie Randolph to start the extra inning. Griffey bounced the ball toward second. Dauer, moving in that direction, decided to take the ball to the bag instead of flipping to shortstop Sakata, who was waiting for it. After making the force out, Dauer turned and made the throw, too late, to first.
Weaver called for Tim Stoddard, these days a.k.a. "The Barbarian," to pitch to Dave Winfield, who popped meekly to the catcher. Then Weaver called for Martinez. He's too diminutive to call "Conan" but he has been overpowering of late. Certainly, he overpowered Bobby Murcer, the pinch hitter for Lou Piniella. A fast ball down the middle begat a pop fly to third baseman Ripken in foul territory.
The Yankees had another chance in the 11th. Martinez walked John Mayberry, but got Butch Wynegar to bounce into a double play. Then he walked Smalley, and Collins singled to left. Yankee Manager Gene Michael sent Graig Nettles up to hit for Andre Robertson.
Weaver couldn't have been happier. His stats show Nettles three for 22 lifetime against Martinez. Friday night, Martinez got Nettles to bounce into a force play to end the game.
Still, "Every time he swings, he scares me," Martinez said.
This time, he swung through a low breaking ball for strike three.
"What did you say to Joe?" Martinez was asked. "I didn't say anything," he replied. "I was too exhausted."