No theatrics tonight. No 10th-inning thrills. The Baltimore Orioles took the lead in the first inning and kept increasing it, the way a contender in the heat of a pennant race should against an opponent as forlorn as the Minnesota Twins.
The Orioles won, 9-0, with hits from every spot in the order and a three-hit pitching gem from Mike Boddicker.
With Milwaukee's loss at Oakland, the Orioles lead the East by a half-game, while Boddicker leads the American League in shutouts with four. This type of performance is becoming rather routine when Boddicker (11-6) pitches here. At Memorial Stadium, where 23,988 watched tonight, Boddicker is 9-1 this season with a 1.85 ERA.
"Mike's making me believe he's a right-handed Scott McGregor," said Ray Miller, the Orioles' pitching coach. "That's a very good club for him to pitch against. He changes speeds well and they're young, strong kids who hit fast balls. He fed them enough fast balls to keep them looking for them, then got them out on breaking pitches."
Boddicker allowed a double to Gary Ward in the first inning, a single to Mickey Hatcher in the second and a single to Ron Washington in the third. He retired 18 of the final 20 batters. Gary Gaetti walked in the fourth with two out and Hatcher walked in the seventh, also with two out.
"There haven't been too many pitchers that have thrown four shutouts the first two-thirds of their rookie year," said Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli. "At least none that have played for me."
It was Baltimore's third straight victory and broke a two-game streak of come-from-behind, 10th-inning spectacles. The Orioles, who were batting a lowly .218 the last 19 games, had 13 hits tonight.
"We're due for about a month of hurtin' people with runs," Boddicker said.
Cal Ripken drove in the first run (his 12th game-winning RBI) in the first inning with a double to left center, scoring Dan Ford, who had singled to right. The Orioles posted two runs in the third and two in the fourth on some strong hitting, aided by some awful fielding by the Twins, who somehow had won four straight and 11 of their last 16.
Rich Dauer singled with one out in the third, and moved up a base when Todd Cruz's grounder to third was thrown away by Minnesota's Gary Gaetti. (Cruz was graciously given a hit.) Ken Schrom (12-5), the Twins' ace right-hander, walked .233 hitter Rick Dempsey on four pitches.
Next, Al Bumbry hit a fly to deep right center. Tom Brunansky caught the ball, one-handed, on the warning track, then crashed into center fielder Darrell Brown. As they lay tangled on the gravel, Dauer scored from third, Cruz scored from second--making it 3-0--and Dempsey went from first to third.
"I had taken about two steps when I saw them collide," said Cruz, "so I figured I'd get waved around."
In the fourth, Singleton got an infield hit off the glove of second baseman John Castino. He scored on a double to left by Dempsey, who scored and made it 5-0 on Bumbry's single that landed inches in front of left fielder Ward, who had a chance to catch the ball.
In the fifth, Eddie Murray doubled and scored on a single by John Lowenstein. The latter scored on a single by Cruz for a 7-0 lead. And Cruz drove in two more runs in the seventh with his third hit, scoring Murray who had doubled again, and Singleton, safe on an error.
"We kinda broke loose," said Altobelli. "It's been a long time since we had one like this. We'd been in the thicket for awhile."
The Orioles remember Minnesota's three-game sweep here this season and Twins' pitcher Bobby Castillo coming out with a broom and sweeping the ground for emphasis.
"Those kinds of things stick in a team's craw," Boddicker said. "That was a little too much. We remember, and we're a pretty tough ball club. Teams just don't grind our noses in the dust, or if they do, we can come back and make 'em pay."