For the middle of May, this was about as exciting as baseball gets.
Trailing by a run going into their half of the ninth, with the second-largest crowd of the season at Memorial Stadium having worked itself to World Series noise level, the Baltimore Orioles sent Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Fred Lynn to the plate.
Only three pitches later, the Orioles had won dramatically, 4-2, on Lynn's second last-inning, game-winning homer in two nights.
Most of the 49,092 refused to leave the stadium until Lynn -- following his 201st career home run -- came out to take a bow.
When asked if he had had a sequence like this previously in 11 major league seasons, Lynn said, "Absolutely not. I've had game-winning hits on consecutive games, but not in this kind of dramatic fashion. Not two home runs in the ninth."
Perhaps the crowd also should have demanded a curtain call from Mike Boddicker (5-1), who pitched a fine complete game before retiring to the bench for the bottom of the ninth to see what his hitters would do.
"If you want any three guys up, it's those three," Boddicker said of the Orioles' ninth-inning batting order.
Minnesota Manager Billy Gardner had lifted starter Ken Schrom, who had thrown only 99 pitches and allowed only one run, which tied the score, 1-1, in the fourth. But Schrom said his elbow was bothering him before the ninth inning.
"I was kinda glad to see him yank Schrom, to tell you the truth," Boddicker said. "He had been tough on us all night."
Instead of Schrom, the Orioles got to start the ninth against RonDavis (1-3), who allowed Lynn's ninth-inning homer that gave the Orioles a 6-5 victory Friday night.
Davis came in and threw two pitches.
Ripken hit the first into center field for a leadoff single.
Murray drove the second into right for another base hit, sending Ripken to third.
Exit Davis, enter Curt Wardle, a left-hander to face the left-handed Lynn.
Wardle threw one pitch, then watched Lynn hit it the opposite way, nearly 400 feet over the wall in left center with just a little push from the wind.
"When Cal walked up there and got a hit on the first pitch, I said, 'Here we go,' " Lynn said. "Then, when Eddie got the base hit, I knew we were going to tie the score.
"Even if I don't come through, somebody's going to do it. I just didn't want to kill the rally. My first job is not to hit into a double play, and then I wanted to score the runner from third."
When Lynn's ball cleared the wall, the Orioles rushed to home plate to greet him.
It seemed that the fans chanted, "Freddie . . . Freddie . . . " for nearly five minutes, of which Lynn said with a smile, "It wasn't too tough. They just had to put an F in front of 'Eddie.' They've had that down for about eight years . . . I love this. I love playing in front of this kind of big crowd."
Not more than five minutes before Lynn's game-winner, the Twins had carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth after Tom Brunansky's eighth-inning home run. But it didn't take long for the Orioles to earn their 12th come-from-behind victory out of a total of 18 this season.
The Twins were, to say the least, in shock. "It's kind of beyond belief to lose the game in the ninth inning to the same guy two nights in a row," shortstop Roy Smalley said. "I went out in short left field when the ball was hit and I said, 'Tie game.' All of a sudden, the game's over.
"In 10 years, I've never seen the ball carry like this, especially to the opposite field. Any other year and that's just an ordinary fly ball."
Smalley wasn't just throwing out sour grapes. Lynn, too, said the ball has been carrying better than he's ever see it in Memorial Stadium.
Minnesota Manager Billy Gardner was even more upset that Lynn's ball went out, especially in light of all the criticism about baseballs flying out of his park, the Metrodome.
"I get sick and tired of people talking about the Dome," Gardner said. "This place is worse. You've got lefty hitters hitting the ball over the left field fence and the center field fence . . . Geez."
Gardner still was getting over the surprise of Schrom's sore elbow. "He said his elbow was bothering him," Gardner said. "He said he would go back out there if I wanted.
"So what am I supposed to do? I was taken by surprise. The way he was pitching, I'm not going to take him out. It's his arm, but look who was coming up for them in the ninth."
Effective starting pitching had been one of the few elements Baltimore has lacked this spring. Boddicker struggled at times tonight. But no fewer than five times he got out of jams.
In the seventh, after giving up consecutive singles with one out, Boddicker struck out Kirby Puckett, the American League's second-leading hitter, and got Mickey Hatcher -- the league's No. 2 man in hits -- to ground out.
In the ninth, two runners were on when he got Puckett to hit a one-hopper back to the mound that started a double play. When complimented on the number of key pitches he made, Boddicker said, "If you don't, you don't stay in the ball game."
Boddicker did, repeatedly. Not only did he stay on to give the Baltimore staff its third complete game of the season. But he kept his team close enough for another dramatic victory.