When Rickey Henderson walked to the plate in the ninth inning, having already had four hits, Orioles Manager Earl Weaver screamed from the Baltimore dugout: "Are you ever gonna make an out?"
Henderson laughed softly, dug in, and singled to right field to complete the first five-hit game of his major league career and underscore the New York Yankees' 10-0 victory tonight over Baltimore here before 34,844 in Memorial Stadium.
Henderson, who said this might have been his best game ever, was just one New York player who terrorized five pitchers. Starter Scott McGregor lasted 1 2/3 innings and allowed three runs in a loss that broke the Orioles' four-game winning streak.
Baltimore had scored 33 runs in those four games but could manage only five hits tonight off Ron Guidry (7-3), who won his sixth straight. He didn't throw a pitch faster than 89 mph, but his change-up baffled the Orioles all night.
Leadoff-hitter Henderson, who had walked in the fifth inning, reached base six times, as did No. 2 hitter Don Mattingly, meaning the one-two men in the lineup were on 12 times in 12 chances and were eight for eight at bat. They had nearly half the Yankees' 17 hits.
"I don't know that I ever remember hearing of that happening, 12 for 12," Mattingly said. "I knew we were on base a lot, which is one thing. But 12 times is unbelievable."
Henderson's career statistics against the Orioles are just as unbelievable. His .351 average against Baltimore is the highest among active players with 100 or more at bats. And his .457 on-base percentage is staggering.
"The thing I'm really happy about is getting off to a good start and maintaining it for the first time," Henderson said. "When it gets hot in June and July, I usually get hot."
He smiled when he recalled Weaver's question in the ninth, and said, "That Earl Weaver, he's funny."
Weaver was as funny tonight as he may ever have been after a loss, his first since returning to the Baltimore dugout last Friday. He seemed fascinated with Henderson, who came into the game hitting .313 and raised it to .332, to take the AL batting lead.
Weaver asked if there were any New York writers in the room. "I want to talk to somebody who's seen Henderson make an out this year. I want to know how they did it."
Weaver would probably much prefer this type of blowout to a close defeat, and there certainly was nothing close about this game, only the Orioles' second shutout this season.
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the first on Don Baylor's sacrifice fly and Billy Sample's RBI single. A bases-loaded walk to Dave Winfield in the second made it 3-0, and Weaver went to the mound to get McGregor (5-6), who had pitched well for five straight games before tonight.
Sammy Stewart, the first reliever didn't fare much better. He gave up an RBI single to No. 9 hitter Bobby Meacham and another one to Henderson, who had three hits in three innings, to make it 5-0.
But any runs scored that inning were overshadowed by the beaning of catcher Butch Wynegar. Waiting in the on-deck circle, he was hit on the head and knocked down by Willie Randolph's foul ball.
Wyneger was wearing his helmet, which apparently absorbed some of the impact. He walked from the field and was taken to Union Memorial Hospital for overnight observation.
Winfield drove in two of New York's three runs in the fifth that put the the Yankees ahead, 8-0.
The Orioles never did rally. Only twice in the game did they send five men to bat in an inning.
Baltimore's pitching coach, Ray Miller, looked at it philosophically: "If you're going to give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs and everything they hit is falling in, you might as well do it on a night when their guy is shutting you out."
It was a surprise for Weaver to see the change in Guidry. "He went in and out with his breaking ball, which is different than 2 1/2 years ago. When I was here before, he'd bust that slider down and in on you. His top speed (tonight) was 89, and he used to get to 94. But his breaking ball was tremendous."
As it turned out, the loss meant little to Baltimore except missing a chance to gain another game on Toronto, which lost again. "We're the same as when we came to the park," Weaver said: "Four behind. We're not all that bad off, gentlemen."