Recent performances said Dennis Martinez was an unlikely candidate to come into this home run palace, scatter seven hits and allow only a single run over a complete ball game.
But Martinez did just that against Seattle in the Kingdome today, wiggling out of an eighth-inning jam to give the Baltimore Orioles a 2-1 victory.
The victory moved the Orioles back into a tie in the American League East with Toronto, which lost today to Minnesota. Detroit is a half-game back.
"I don't know why I'm able to do this against Seattle," said Martinez, who raised his lifetime record against the Mariners to 13-4. "I have a tough time with Minnesota; they just kill me. It's not like I like this park; balls go out of here too easy. It's hard to explain my success against Seattle. Maybe that's why I'm still here."
Martinez (3-2) didn't pitch any better than the Mariners' Mike Moore (4-4), who allowed only five hits and struck out eight, including five straight at one point.
But Cal Ripken's one-out sacrifice fly in the eighth drove in Rick Dempsey for the winning run. Dempsey had walked to start the inning, went to third on Lee Lacy's bloop single to right, then scored on Ripken's fly ball.
The Orioles might have scored more than once that inning, but Lacy -- on Ripken's fly -- got hung up between first and second, and was thrown out in a rundown, to the frustration of Eddie Murray who stood on deck.
Martinez allowed one single in the ninth, with two out to David Henderson. But Martinez hadn't allowed more than one hit in any previous inning, and didn't in the ninth. He got Donnie Scott on a one-hopper to the mound that ended the game.
Martinez actually was in deeper trouble in the eighth, when Jack Perconte hit what Martinez called "a sidearm fast ball" into right-center past Lacy and all the way to the wall for a triple. Phil Bradley's grounder to the right side of a pulled-in infield would have produced a run were it not for Rich Dauer's diving, rolling catch. He looked Perconte back to third and threw out Bradley for the inning's second out. And Ken Phelps, the next batter, flew out to end the inning.
"No doubt, Richie's catch is the play of the game," Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli said.
Perconte had slapped his thigh in frustration when Dauer reached the ball, hit between first and second. Perconte said he was acting on coaches' instructions for him not to go home unless the ball went through the infield. "I was mad at them," he said. "Runs are tough to get. They snuck one across and we couldn't."
The first two runs of the game hardly snuck across. Jim Dwyer's fourth home run of the season, leading off the fourth inning, gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead.
And Phelps' two-out home run to the opposite field -- also in the fourth -- tied it, 1-1, just after Martinez had picked off Bradley at first base following a walk.
But both teams struggled to get men on base. "That was an extremely well-pitched game," Altobelli said. "A 2-1 game on an AstroTurf field . . . And that Moore struck out five straight, four of them were left-handers."
Martinez had virtually no trouble the first three innings. He faced only one man over the minimum, and that was because Wayne Gross made an error on Spike Owen's routine grounder.
The Orioles were having even more trouble with Moore, who struck out Ripken to end the first, Eddie Murray, Fred Lynn and Larry Sheets in the second, and Gross to lead off the third.
"He could throw hard last year, but this year he's really learned how to pitch," Altobelli said. "He's got the 90-plus (mph) fast ball, the slider and a breaking pitch that fades into the left-handers."
Mostly, as Moore said later, he had the fast ball. And that's what Dwyer hit out in the fourth. "He threw me three breaking balls and ran the count to 2-1," Dwyer said. "I figured he'd come back with a fast ball because he wouldn't want to go to 3-1 and risk walking me with Rip and Eddie behind me.
"So I acted as if it was 3-1. And I was sitting dead on a fast ball."
To show how hard Moore was throwing, he struck out Dwyer in the eighth on a 93 mph fast ball, his fastest pitch of the night, Dwyer said.
Dwyer was one of several players who made outstanding defensive plays, which always seem to be a part of 2-1 games.
With a man on first and two out in the seventh, Dwyer charged into the visitors' bullpen, grabbed Scott's foul fly ball and went tumbling over the mound, for the third out. "The mound got to me about the same time I got to the ball," Dwyer said. His catch probably wasn't as spectacular as the one Bradley made in the sixth, when he jumped high at the wall and robbed Rick Dempsey of at least a double. On the next at bat, Perconte robbed the Orioles of another base hit by diving far to his left to retire Lacy.
Martinez's performance could turn out to be a very good sign for the Orioles, whose starting pitchers have been struggling much of the season.
"I'm thinking more clearly out there now than I used to when I was drinking," said Martinez, who spent six weeks before the 1984 season trying to recover from his alcohol problem. "Even when I had a tough time with Minnesota (twice this year), I felt good.
"Last year, I couldn't keep situations straight. I couldn't remember what pitch I used to get this guy or that guy out on previously. You can't pitch like that . . . But now, I'm having fun out there."