The Baltimore Orioles certainly know how to enjoy a quiet week between clinching the division and starting the playoffs.
This evening in Memorial Stadium, rookie Mike Boddicker, the Orioles' most effective pitcher since the All-Star break and their starter for Game 2 against Chicago, had the worst game of his career, allowing eight runs in the second inning of a 9-5 defeat by the Detroit Tigers.
"What in the world are they doing with our rotation?" asked Jim Palmer, who is miffed at not having a prominent role in the postseason proceedings and, as he usually does when miffed, retaliated verbally.
Scott McGregor's playoff starts will be his fourth and fifth working on three days rest, after working on the fifth day all season. Boddicker's Chicago start will be his second straight on three days rest, something he has never done before. Mike Flanagan, who will work a couple of innings Sunday, will not have had a start for a week. "Fairly amazing, I'd say," said Palmer.
Manager Joe Altobelli explains that while McGregor and Boddicker are working on short rest, they will be throwing fewer pitches per outing. "For a guy who takes two months off at a time . . . (pause) . . . Palmer's always helpful," said Altobelli.
As though trying to give the White Sox a scouting report, the Tigers humiliated the Orioles throughout that eight-run inning. Boddicker, who'd thrown a ball into center field in the first and allowed a steal, walked the leadoff man, who stole second. Eddie Murray dropped a routine grounder for an error. Then Murray got one out on what could have been a double play ball.
After two singles, Murray let a hard grounder go under his glove for what was ruled a double. Boddicker served a two-run hit on the next pitch then, after falling behind 3-0 on Larry Herndon, threw a fast ball that turned into a two-run homer.
Orioles General Manager Hank Peters was incensed by the time he'd seen Alan Trammell, Mike Laga and Kirk Gibson take daring extra bases in a largely meaningless game. "They're playing over-aggressive baseball. You store that up," said Peters.
"Instead of complaining, I'd suggest they throw him out," said Detroit's Sparky Anderson. "A team in this park ran on me two years ago when the score was 11-1. We remember."
Todd Cruz, after striking out four times Tuesday, was zero for three tonight with two more whiffs. "Cruz concerns me," said Altobelli. "He'll keep playing until he unconcerns me. He has five games left. The thought of (Rich) Dauer at third and (Lenn) Sakata (who homered tonight) at second is running through my mind. But it's only running. If it were walking, it would be different."
Nothing like the laidback pleasures of an early clinching.