After the deluge, there was a deluge. The game began 40 minutes late in a rain shower and ended in a downpour. In between, the Orioles scored eight runs, the most since May 14. By the top of the sixth, the gods who oversee these things had seen enough. The rains returned and the game was called 52 minutes later with the Orioles leading, 8-1.
And so they won three of four from the Blue Jays just as the Blue Jays did two weeks ago in Toronto.
Scott McGregor (7-3) was the beneficiary of the short, soggy night. Luis Leal was its victim.
Leal, the Blue Jays' starting pitcher, and Luis Tiant have a lot in common: the same name, the same kind of figure (chunky), and the same twisting, turning, pitching motion. Unlike Tiant, Leal does not smoke cigars or lie about his age. Leal, who is 26, was named the American League player of the week three weeks ago, when he was 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA. He came into tonight's game with a five-game winning streak.
"He's a Tiant type; you have to get him early," said Ray Miller, Orioles pitching coach. "He changes speeds, he'll turn his back on you. The first impression is that he throws a lot of offspeed stuff. He throws harder than you expect. But he gets careless early."
He did (get careless early) and the Orioles did (get to him early). Of course, two errors by his teammates did not help Leal's cause. Al Bumbry led off the game with a bouncer that was booted by second baseman Damaso Garcia and scored the first (unearned) run of the game on Jim Dwyer's double inside the first base line. It is not being unduly harsh to say that first baseman Willie Upshaw did not give the play that old college try.
There was nothing dinky about the Orioles' next two runs. Cal Ripken Jr. lined his seventh home run of the year, over the wall in left center field, and the Orioles led, 3-0.
Soon, there was more. With two outs in the third, Eddie Murray, who is batting .333, walked. John Lowenstein, who batted .370 in his last 10 games, lined a double down the first base line. Ken Singleton was walked intentionally to load the bases. Joe Nolan, the Orioles' catcher, bounced to first but first Upshaw, who looked a bit shaky on the other balls that came his way, looked horrible on this one. It went between his legs into right field as Murray and Lowenstein scored two more unearned runs.
Leal left after three innings, trailing, 5-0, the second player of the week the Orioles have disarmed in the last four days (Dave Stieb lasted 2 2/3 innings on Saturday).
Cliff Johnson, who shows an equal lack of respect for Orioles' pitching, hit his 10th home run of the year (his fourth against the Orioles) in the fourth, the third hit off McGregor.
It was those of those giddy, greedy nights, when everything seems to go your way. In the fifth, Gary Roenicke bounced an opposite field double past Upshaw at first who was playing him to pull. (Roenicke replaced Lowenstein when Dave Geisel, a left-hander, replaced Leal). Truth to tell, there was nothing Upshaw could have done about this one. But life isn't fair and the ball was. Singleton walked again and after Nolan struck out for the second out of the inning, Leo Hernandez stepped to the plate.
Hernandez hasn't done much right lately, batting .171 in his last 13 games. In fact, he hasn't done anything at all since he had not started in eight games. He hit Geisel's first pitch six rows into the left field stands.
The Orioles led by 8-1. In the top of the sixth, the gods took mercy on the Blue Jays and it began to thunder in earnest. The tarpaulin came out for the second time (the game was delayed 40 minutes) and the Blue Jays took refuge inside the clubhouse where the only thing that booms is their tape decks.