Baseball players often say they have no logical explanation for overwhelming, almost illogical success against certain teams. Scott McGregor didn't uncover any magic thoughts today, trying to explain his continuing mastery of the California Angels.
McGregor gave up a pair of two-run homers today and trailed after five innings. But he yielded only six hits overall, and pitched his second complete game in five days to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 6-4 victory before 26,621 fans. The result raised McGregor's lifetime record against California to 17-3, including 10-2 in Anaheim Stadium.
"I can't ever explain it," McGregor (3-4) said. "There have been times I've pitched poorly against them and won. I try not to think about it too much. They're not thinking about how many in a row I've won against them."
The victory enabled Baltimore to finish its 12-game road trip with a 6-6 record. The Orioles had hoped for a couple of more victories, considering they have won a phenomenal 64 percent of the games they have played out West since 1978.
The Angels were hurt by terrible fielding -- half Baltimore's runs were unearned -- but the Orioles popped starter Mike Witt and loser-in-relief Tommy John (2-4) for eight of their nine hits.
Baltimore led, 3-0, in the third. But McGregor (3-4) gave up a two-run homer in the fourth to Mike Brown, and another two-run shot in the fifth, to Juan Beniquez, and the Angels took a 4-3 lead. (McGregor already has given up 11 home runs this season.)
A single by Cal Ripken, a walk to Eddie Murray and a single through the pitcher's mound by Fred Lynn that forced Witt to duck tied the score, 4-4, in the sixth.
A pinch-hit double by Fritz Connally to start the seventh, a sacrifice bunt by Rich Dauer, and Rick Dempsey's sacrifice fly produced what proved to be the winning run.
It was only the second RBI this month and the first since May 8 for Dempsey, who started the season with 17 RBI in April.
The Orioles added a run in the seventh. Lee Lacy walked and Mike Young, pinch-hitting for Dauer, doubled to left field to put runners on second and third.
Ripken was falling away from a pitch that hit his bat and rolled sharply to first. Beniquez didn't field it cleanly, but still had plenty enough time to throw to pitcher Stu Cliburn, covering first. Ripken was several steps from the bag but Beniquez, an outfielder filling in as first baseman, never threw and the Orioles led, 6-4.
The Angels, meanwhile, got only two hits, both singles, off McGregor through the final four innings. California Manager Gene Mauch even brought in Reggie Jackson (injured hamstring) to pinch-hit in the ninth with a man on first. McGregor struck out Jackson, each of the strikes being a fast ball, which McGregor called "the mystery of the century."
The Orioles had scored three runs in the third, two of them unearned. Wayne Gross walked and went to third when shortstop Dick Schofield failed to field Dempsey's routine grounder. Lacy and Jim Dwyer singled in runs before Ripken hit a sacrifice fly.
California's four quick runs made McGregor think about the previous day, when Mike Boddicker couldn't hold a 4-0 Baltimore lead. But the Orioles continued to hit today. "We scored in more than one inning," Manager Joe Altobelli said.
The Orioles seemed as happy about going home as they were about winning. "I don't know whether it's the two weeks or the four cities that's more tiring," McGregor said.
"Well, if the theory is to win half your games on the road, and beat the hell out of people at home, then we've got a good shot now," Altobelli said. "We play 18 out of our next 21 at home. If we're going to do any damage, we're going to the right place to do it."