It was bad enough for Baltimore fans to watch the Orioles lose four straight televised games in Kansas City last weekend. Seeing them lose two in person tonight was more than some of the loyalists could handle, as boos resounded from among the assembled 25,768.
The crowd lifted Memorial Stadium attendance over a million on the third earliest date in club history. But if the turnstile count was worth a million, the Orioles' bats could be appraised at about two cents after 3-1 and 4-0 losses to the Royals.
For rub-it-in efficacy, the first six innings of the second-game shutout were the work of left-hander Don Hood, 32, one-time Baltimore journeyman (1973-74) who was brought back from Omaha of the American Association in May.
After Hood's three-hit effort, Dan Quisenberry stopped the Orioles, as usual, to earn his 26th save, tops in the American League and one more than the entire Baltimore staff. In 16 career appearances covering 23 1/3 innings, Quisenberry never has permitted the Orioles an earned run.
U.L. Washington enjoyed the second two-homer game of his career in the second game, doubling his seasonal total. Hal McRae also homered off loser Scott McGregor, increasing his major league-leading RBI total to 96. But it was the fourth run that soured the customers, as well as Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver.
Jerry Martin's long fly to left with two out in the fourth fell on the warning track between nonhustling outfielders Gary Roenicke and Al Bumbry, allowing Lee May to score from first. The fans' boos had barely subsided when the pair suffered through an inning-ending tirade by Weaver.
"I will never understand that ball as long as I live," Weaver said later. "Everybody sees the ball go up and everybody thinks it's an out. The left fielder thinks it's an out, the center fielder thinks it's an out and everybody on the bench thinks it's an out. Yet nobody gets within eight feet of it. And I didn't get any logical answer when I asked why."
Kansas City's superior fielding was evident all night as the Royals made five double plays, one started on an outstanding stop by third baseman Greg Pryor shortly after Baltimore's outfield faux pas.
Quisenberry was not needed in the opener, with rookie Mike Armstrong pitching the last three innings in relief of Dave Frost. Armstrong, whose earned-run average fell to 1.95, permitted only one base runner, Cal Ripken, who singled with two outs in the ninth.
The Orioles, who beat the Royals, 13-5, here opening day, have totaled only 20 runs in the next nine meetings, of which they have won one. While Kansas City was solidifying its grip on first place in the AL West, Baltimore was falling five games behind Milwaukee in the East.
"We go from three in the loss column to five in the loss column," Weaver said. "Instead of being able to catch Milwaukee in three days, we can't do it in less than five. There's time, but you have to put runs on the board to do it."
The Orioles' only run of the night came in the fourth inning of game one, after the Royals had taken a 3-0 lead. Ken Singleton walked, took second on John Lowenstein's infield single and scored on Joe Nolan's two-out single to right center.
Nolan hit a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right center, but center fielder Cesar Geronimo was able to cut it off and limit Lowenstein to third. Ripken then lined one toward center, but shortstop Washington caught it on one hop and flipped backhand to Frank White, forcing Nolan.
The Royals took the lead in the first inning of both games. In the opener, Willie Wilson walked, stole second and scored on McRae's two-out single to right.
Steve Hammond singled to start the second and shortstop Ripken could not quite reach White's bouncer up the middle, Hammond reaching third. Jamie Quirk produced the run on a liner to Bumbry, who had to dash into fairly short center to make the catch, but was unable to throw the ball more than a few feet past second.
George Brett (a defensive replacement in the second game) made it 3-0 in the third by hitting his 16th homer into the right-field seats. It was only his third hit in 25 at bats, but all three were home runs.
Right-hander Mike Boddicker made his first appearance of the season in relief of starter Storm Davis and shut out the Royals the last 4 2/3 innings.
"Boddicker looked great," Weaver said.
The only other positive note was Terry Crowley's 100th career pinch hit, leading off the ninth inning of game two. It was his first hit in 18 at bats and prompted a prolonged cheer from those fans who remained.
"I was very moved by the ovation," Crowley said. "I don't have any real explanation on why it took so long to get No. 100."
It was not a good night for explanations. Quisenberry, the submarining right-hander, could not figure out his domination of the Orioles, either.
"It baffles me that I do well against Baltimore facing mostly left-handed hitters and the best pinch hitters in baseball," Quisenberry said. "And against Milwaukee, I get hit and those are mostly right-handers."