Orioles Manager Joe Altobelli was asked what it was like to sit in the dugout and watch the now invincible Eddie Murray get four hits to lead Baltimore to a 10-1 victory over Oakland today at Memorial Stadium. "Sitting there watching him today," Altobelli said, "I felt like the king of Siam, with Deborah Kerr."
Murray is indisputably on a royal hitting streak. The four hits today raised his season average to .298, less than one month after it had dropped to .217. In the last four games, Murray has hit .688 (11 for 16), including five doubles and a home run, with eight runs batted in.
His two-run double today highlighted a three-run third inning for Baltimore, which also scored five times in the fifth before 34,221.
But Murray had to share game honors with Scott McGregor, who gave up only six hits in pitching and winning his third straight complete game; with Wayne Gross, who started the game with only three hits in his last 33 at bats but had two home runs today, and with Cal Ripken, who broke out of a minor slump with three hits.
Still, Murray's performance had even his teammates in awe. McGregor (4-4) said, "You know he's going to hit one of these stretches. Fred Lynn came over to me in the dugout and said, 'This guy's amazing.' And I said, 'Fred, he can take us all up on his shoulders and carry us with him.'
"This is what you have to remember early in the season (when people were wondering when Murray would start hitting). It's these torrid streaks that just make you marvel at him."
Even Gross, whose performance usually would have merited all the attention, said, "The guy can just carry the team by himself for a month."
The only time Murray didn't get a hit was when Oakland starter Mike Warren (1-4) walked him in the first.
Murray declined to talk about his performance afterward, just saying, "Gentlemen, I'd rather not today, please. Thank you."
His treatment of Oakland was less polite. His two-run double in the third drove in Jim Dwyer, who had bunted for Baltimore's first hit, and Ripken, who had reached on an infield single.
Murray's second hit, a single to right center in the fifth, enabled him to score with Ripken on Larry Sheets' double off left-hander Jeff Kaiser that made it 5-0. Sheets, a rookie, now is being kept in the lineup against left-handers.
The next three runs were produced by Gross, another left-handed hitter who usually doesn't have the opportunity to hit lefties. It was too early in the game, Altobelli said, to begin substituting with right-handed hitters.
Gross' three-run homer off Kaiser in the fifth made it 8-0 and quieted the booing.
"I've been booed before, and I'll be booed again," Gross said. "It's part of the job and I understand that. I'm not the greatest baseball player who's ever lived, but I'll try as hard as anybody.
"Anyway, what are they gonna do, get on Eddie Murray?"
Murray's third hit, a double in the sixth, drove in Ripken (who had singled to center) for a 9-0 lead. Gross' second homer finished the scoring for Baltimore.
The only run McGregor allowed was the result of Dwayne Murphy's homer in the seventh, although he did survive a rough sixth inning. Mike Heath singled with one out and Rob Picciolo followed with a single. Alfredo Griffin dropped a bunt down the third base line for an infield hit that loaded the bases.
So, McGregor got Steve Henderson to ground into a double play that ended the inning. "Everything was working today," McGregor said.
Just two weeks ago, McGregor's ERA was 8.10 after losing four straight. Now, he has allowed only five earned runs in his last 27 innings.
"When I'm in a groove, I don't want to think about anything else," he said.
Rookie third baseman Fritz Connally suffered a bruised vertebra in his Saturday night collision with Oakland's Dave Kingman on a tag play. After being examined this morning, it was announced that Connally could play. But Gross, as is often the case, started against Warren.