Two weeks ago, his Orioles had lost seven games in a row and Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli knew what the big problem was: "We couldn't get a base hit when we needed it."
The Orioles have solved that problem. Tonight, they scored seven runs in the first inning and went on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-2, before a crowd of 37,127. With their eighth straight win and 15th in 18 games, the Orioles increased their lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee, which lost, 4-1, to Seattle tonight.
Jim Gott, the starting Toronto pitcher, faced six batters, retired none, and was lifted with the bases loaded and Baltimore leading, 3-0.
Al Bumbry led off the game with a walk, after which Jim Dwyer singled and Cal Ripken walked to load the bases.
Eddie Murray, John Lowenstein and Ken Singleton followed with RBI singles and Mike Morgan replaced Gott. Rich Dauer's grounder scored a run and Todd Cruz followed with a three-run homer, his 10th of the season, and it was 7-0 with the game only 20 minutes old.
Mike Boddicker (12-6) threw a four-hitter, allowing the Blue Jays' only runs on a homer by Jesse Barfield in the second. Tippy Martinez relieved Boddicker, who had suffered a small cut on his pitching hand, in the eighth and gave up no hits.
"Mike has exceeded our expectations," Altobelli said. "He's been just a smidgen short of sensational."
Boddicker, who has won six of his last seven decisions, said, "I used my changeup a lot and it was fooling them. Toronto players slap the ball around a great deal, but a lot of their line drives were hit right at our people. It's more fun pitching with a big lead. You can make a mistake in the middle innings and not get hurt."
A single by Ripken and Murray's triple produced a run in the fourth; two walks and Dauer's sacrifice fly scored another in the eighth, and Murray's leadoff double set up the final run in the ninth. Murray scored on Singleton's sacrifice fly.
The loss was Toronto's seventh in nine games, including three in a row to the Orioles. The Blue Jays were without Manager Bobby Cox after he was ejected by home plate umpire Drew Coble in the fourth for arguing from the dugout.
The Orioles activated newly acquired outfielder Tito Landrum today and sent right-handed pitcher Alan Ramirez to the minors. Landrum, 28, came to the Orioles from the St. Louis Cardinals' organization as the player to be named later in the June 13 trade for infielder Floyd Rayford.
The Orioles needed to activate him to their 25-man roster before midnight Thursday in order to make him eligible for the playoffs. Their final roster for the playoffs includes nine pitchers, two catchers, five infielders and nine outfielders. Ramirez will rejoin the Orioles Monday.