Jim Palmer's arm is getting stronger, but it wasn't as strong as former teammate Doyle Alexander's today.
The Toronto Blue Jays hit four home runs--three of them off Palmer--to end the Baltimore Orioles' winning streak at eight games, 5-3. It was Palmer's third start since coming off the disabled list Aug. 21.
The Orioles were mostly powerless against Alexander, who, like Palmer, is no stranger to arm problems. Alexander went the distance and won his second in a row after losing his first eight games this year.
Palmer (3-4) allowed eight hits in seven innings, walked two and struck out five. But Jesse Barfield homered twice and Ernie Whitt once. Reliever Tippy Martinez gave up the fourth homer, to Willie Upshaw, and it tied the club record for homers in one game.
"I don't think he (Palmer) was satisfied and I don't think I am," said Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli, whose club's lead in the American League East shrank to three games over idle Milwaukee and over Detroit, which beat Texas. "He shouldn't give up those home runs. But he's come out of the last two games without any pain and he's getting stronger. All those home runs were solo ones, so he kept us in the game."
"Physically he's fine," said the Orioles' pitching coach, Ray Miller. "He's going through a flat spot now. He's got to synchronize everything. He's got to get the rest of his body as finely tuned as his arm. He's just going through spring training again."
"He looked all right to me," was Toronto Manager Bobby Cox's comment.
Said Palmer: "I just don't want to talk about anything."
The Blue Jays scored in the first inning without resorting to power. Lloyd Moseby walked, stole second and scored when Upshaw singled.
In the fourth inning, Jim Dwyer walked and Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and John Lowenstein singled to tie the game, 2-2. However, Alexander retired the next three batters, and the Blue Jays took the lead for good when Whitt and Barfield homered consecutively in their half of the inning.
The Orioles' last run was a leadoff home run by Murray in the sixth inning.
Glenn Gulliver, just back from the Orioles' AAA farm in Rochester, doubled with two outs in the ninth, but Dave Collins ran to the warning track in deep left center field to intercept Joe Nolan's drive for the final out of the game.
"Alexander had a good delivery," said Ripken. "He was hitting the spots both inside and outside. But he couldn't get his curve ball over."
"I stopped throwing it (the curve) in the last three innings," Alexander said. "I just threw my fast ball and I had a good change-up and that was enough."
Alexander was with the Orioles until the spring of 1976, then was part of the big trade with the New York Yankees that brought Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor and Martinez, among others, to Baltimore.
Altobelli said that outfielder Dan Ford, who has had a knee injury, was ready to play but he decided to rest him rather than play him on Toronto's artificial turf . . . Ripken stretched his hitting streak to 11 with his fourth-inning single . . . The Orioles won the season series against the Blue Jays, 7-6.