Mike Boddicker wasn't about to mince words about what happened here today. Having blown a four-run lead, Baltimore's best pitcher said of his worst performance this season, "I just stunk. That's the best word to describe it. I stunk."
Well, at least he didn't look too good. Boddicker gave up five runs in only two innings, and allowed California to come from behind and win, 10-4, before 36,615 in Anaheim Stadium.
Baltimore's bullpen wasn't especially effective either. Sammy Stewart allowed four runs in four innings and Tippy Martinez gave up a final run in the seventh.
California reliever Pat Clements, on the other hand, was superb. He shut out the Orioles over the final 6 2/3 innings to bail out starter Kirk McCaskill.
The loss dropped Baltimore 4 1/2 games behind American League East leader Toronto. The Orioles are 5-6 on this road trip with one game to go.
All of this spoiled the 53rd birthday of Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli, who said, "I didn't want a lot of fanfare, but I would have liked a few more runs up there."
Altobelli, at least, got to watch the game from his normal spot in the dugout. Angels Manager Gene Mauch was ejected in the first inning by plate umpire Tim Welke. "It's the best game I never saw," Mauch said.
But at the very moment he was ejected, the Orioles had taken a 3-0 lead on Eddie Murray's three-run homer, his sixth of the season. The Orioles increased the lead to 4-0 on Larry Sheets' homer one out later.
But the Angels ripped Boddicker (6-3) for a run in the first, two in the second and two more in the third before he was removed.
"I didn't have anything," Boddicker said. "It's a shame they gave me four runs and I couldn't hold it. Everything I threw was going right down the middle. And the harder I tried to keep the ball low, the more it stayed up.
"I was due for one of these, I guess. I just couldn't do it today. And I feel bad about because they got me a four-run lead right away."
When Boddicker got to the clubhouse, Scott McGregor (who starts here Monday afternoon) came up and said, "Nice game," a touch of comic relief that Boddicker obviously appreciated.
"You're gonna have them," Boddicker said, "but they're hard to swallow."
For the Orioles, it was hard to swallow not being able to hit Clements for nearly seven innings. "There's no way I thought the kid would last six-plus innings," Altobelli said.
But Mauch went to Clements, 23, when it was obvious McCaskill couldn't do much with the Baltimore hitters. McCaskill had walked Murray to lead off the third and allowed a one-out hit to Sheets before Clements came in to prevent another rally.
A four-run lead for Baltimore with Boddicker (2.81 earned run average before today) on the mound usually is one of the safest bets in baseball. And today California was playing without Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Doug DeCinces and Gary Pettis, all injured.
But Boddicker, in the first, gave up a bunt single to Juan Beniquez, who went to second on a ground out and scored on Ruppert Jones' single to right field.
In the next two innings, the Angels scored five runs, four of them charged to Boddicker.
Boddicker had recorded two outs in the second when Boone singled to left. Dick Schofield's back-to-the-mound drive deflected off Boddicker for an infield hit, putting men on first and second.
Wilfong walked on a full count to load the bases, and Beniquez -- a .340 career hitter against the Orioles -- singled home two runs to bring California within 4-3.
Jones homered off Boddicker to lead off the third and tie the game, 4-4. When Boddicker walked Bobby Grich, Stewart came on. After a sacrifice bunt, rookie Jack Howell singled to put the Angels ahead, 5-4.
Singles by Boone and Schofield increased California's lead to 6-4. And it would only get worse for the Orioles.
With two out in the sixth, Wilfong singled to center. Stewart then walked Beniquez, who reached base for the sixth time in the series. On the next pitch, Brian Downing hit a three-run homer that jumped California's lead to 9-4.