Everybody needs humility.
The Baltimore Orioles, bound for the playoffs, were served a medium-sized dose of humble pie at the hands of Jack Morris and the Detroit Tigers tonight, enduring a 9-2 drubbing in Memorial Stadium.
Before a crowd of 29,142, which had come to celebrate the Orioles' clinching of the American League East flag, the uncooperative Tigers battered starter Scott McGregor for 10 hits and five runs in four innings.
Morris, who'd lost four of five decisions, won his 20th game for the first time; he hurled a six-hitter, fanned nine, got his 20th complete game and was touched for only a solo homer by John Lowenstein (No. 15) and an RBI single by Eddie Murray (No. 107).
Should the Orioles be suffering from overconfidence, this night remedied it. With their right-handed power and strong starters, the Tigers strongly resemble another AL team--the Chicago White Sox. Except Chisox are a lot better.
McGregor, working on three days rest for the second time, was blasted. "When it goes, everything goes," he said. "I'll just put it behind me."
McGregor will work again Saturday, then start the playoffs Wednesday----all on three days rest. McGregor claims to love the new rotation. But, after a great season working on the fifth day, the Orioles are going to get nervous if he's flat again Saturday. "I was laboring, more mentally than physically," said McGregor. "You get the 'blahs' when there's nothing to push you, especially after all the intensity of the last six weeks . . . Maybe a good beating is the best way to be reminded that you have to push yourself."
Tim Stoddard brought his usual special spark to his mop-up work. He hung a slider in Lance Parrish's wheel house in the ninth for an exciting 430-foot two-run homer that gave the catcher four RBI for the night, 114 for the year.
Jim Palmer was in form, too, telling the world he thinks he ought to be one of the team's playoff starters. "I've only had two bad innings all year," said the man who's missed 25 starts and has a 4.52 ERA.
"I'm catching up on answering my mail in the bullpen," quipped Palmer who says he's changing his telephone answering service at home so that it refers callers to "extention 78 at Memorial Stadium," is the bullpen phone.
"It hasn't exactly been fun waiting for him all year," said Coach Ray Miller of the veteran free agent who needs to prove he's still a valuable commodity.
"It's too late now," said scout Jimmy Russo. "You can't come up on September 27th and say you're ready to pitch. Where was he all year? Who are we supposed to take the ball away from?"
On second thought, maybe the Orioles just used this night to fake the White Sox scouts into a bad book.