Just call 'em the Awesome Orioles.
Today, Baltimore splattered what was left of the Minnesota Twins all over the Metrodome, blasting six home runs, 18 hits and tying a club record with 39 total bases in a 13-0 victory.
Who knows where to start in such a mountain of accomplishment?
The Orioles, who are gradually pulling away from the other fine teams in baseball's toughest division, have won 17 of their last 21 games. They find new ways to make those victories more emphatic, more stylish, more symbolic of a club that sets its sights higher the better it plays.
In the last nine days, the Orioles have won games by scores of 9-0, 11-4, 9-2, 12-4, 10-2 and now 13-0. Baltimore has not only won 10 of its last 11 games, but by an 82-25 margin.
No, the Orioles aren't that good. Nobody's that good. Or ever has been. But for the Orioles, these are days of sublime enjoyment and good comradeship.
"This team has everything it needs to win. Spirit, ability, the proper age groups of veterans, rookies and players in their prime," said lefty Scott McGregor (17-5), who pitched an eight-hit shutout to give the Orioles back-to-back whitewashes after their 1-0 win here Friday night.
"You can start thinkin' about callin' us the 'Awesome O's,' " joked Sammy Stewart.
"I think this is the year," said Ray Miller, pitching coach. "I've thought so since spring training, but now I'm gettin' pretty sure."
This game had no end of brilliant individual performances.
Cal Ripken had two home runs, two doubles and a single in a five-for-six day that included four RBI. The sophomore shortstop who may, before long, be the game's premier player, missed a third homer when one of his doubles smashed off the left field barrier a foot from the top.
Afterward, he stood in a corner quietly chatting with his father, unaware that reporters would want to question him about such a day. Told that he had tied the team record for total bases in a game (13) and tied the club record for doubles in a season (38), young Ripken said, "Oh, I didn't know."
For the past month, Ripken has hit .389 and raised his average to .303. "I never thought I could get any hotter than I was in Class A ball," said Ripken, who has 23 homers, 86 RBI and 95 runs scored, "but I guess I'm just as hot now." Ripken has had four four-hit games since July 20.
Both of Ripken's homers, a 375-footer in the first off starter Ken Schrom (12-7) and a 393-footer in the seventh, were more remarkable for their velocity than their distance.
Ken Singleton, who won Friday night's 1-0 duel with a ninth-inning homer, smashed apart this non-contest with a grand slam that highlighted a seven-run third inning in which a dozen Orioles batted. Singleton's 417-foot shot gave the team an 8-0 lead and was his second game-changing homer batting right-handed within hours.
"I don't remember when I last hit one that far right-handed," he said with a grin. "It was a full-count fast ball on the fists. The same pitch they got me out on all last year. But not anymore."
Dan Ford had three hits, including a 417-foot homer. Rich Dauer, who had only one three-hit game previously this year, had four hits, including a line-drive, 401-foot homer to left. Joe Nolan, who was hit in the arm by a knockdown pitch after Singleton's homer, admitted that he had retribution on his mind when he unleashed a towering homer to right in a later at bat.
With considerable reason, the Orioles were in their most voluble, chipper mood of the season after this game.
"As soon as we get some pitching on this team, we'll be all right," cackled Dauer about the team ERA over the last 200 innings of 2.26.
"They've scored 22 in my last two starts. Ridiculous," said McGregor, whose record since May 28 is 13-2 with a 2.25 ERA.
"This team has always known how to win and to relax. We could lose, 13-0, tomorrow and laugh," said McGregor. "We have veterans like Jim Palmer, who's an encyclopedia of pitching, who teach and demonstrate to our young players how things should be done and how you conduct yourself . . . You never show up the other team, but you can still have fun.
"I don't have to hide in the background here anymore. It's my turn to step forward and be a leader," said an uncharacteristically animated McGregor, who, because of this year's pitching injuries, has become the club's stopper.
"The spirit of this game is the most important thing. We have it . . . If we played in New York or Los Angeles, we probably wouldn't be the same team. We'd be swept away by it all. But Baltimore is good to us, right for us," he said.
"The greatest reward for this ball club is this ball club. We enjoy our summers."