Ray Miller's return to Memorial Stadium also coincided with the return of the real Earl Weaver -- the Weaver that gets hopping mad when he sees too many things he doesn't like.
Last night, in front of 22,105 fans and through three rain delays, the Minnesota Twins came from behind and then scored three runs in the 10th inning to win, 7-4.
"All I know is, this team is running out of time -- rapidly," Weaver bellowed afterward, his face red with anger. "There's not much more time for many more experiments. We've gotta get somebody who can do the job, and then get his butt on the field. Pitching, catching, infield, anything . . . just get the damn job done."
The winning rally began with two outs and the No. 7 hitter, third baseman Gary Gaetti, up. Gaetti, who hit his 10th homer of the year in the second with Roy Smalley aboard, hit a slow roller to third baseman Wayne Gross. Gaetti is no speedster, but Gross' throw pulled Eddie Murray off first base, although Gaetti was given a hit on the play.
Don Aase (5-4), who had replaced starter Ken Dixon in the seventh, then walked pinch hitter Mike Stenhouse. Ron Washington ran for Stenhouse. Twins' catcher Mark Salas, the No. 9 hitter who went three for five with two RBI, singled to right to drive in Gaetti for what would be the winning run.
Sammy Stewart replaced Aase, but walked Kirby Puckett to load the bases. Mickey Hatcher's bloop single to right field scored Washington and Salas.
"I know one thing," Weaver said of Gross' play. "Brooks (Robinson) used to make that play, other people used to make that play, and you win games making those plays. I'm not saying anything against Gross, but we used to make those plays and win games scoring four runs."
Weaver had been especially patient since returning as manager, but may have reached his limit.
"We always have that base on balls in the middle of the inning, which means we have no chance of getting an out. Let's quit giving up the base on ball," he yelled as he passed the door of his office, well within earshot of his players in the clubhouse. "Somebody better go nine innings and win a game. If you don't win them with four runs, you won't win a thing."
The Orioles' staff has pitched only 16 complete games this year, and on 19 occasions the starter has not made it past the fourth inning.
The game, delayed three times by rain for a total of 1 hour 16 minutes, went to extra innings when the Twins tied it at 4 with a run in the seventh. Salas singled with one out, Puckett walked, then, with two out, Kent Hrbek singled Salas home.
It may be ironic that Weaver blew up at his pitchers on the same night that Miller -- his pitching coach for 7 1/2 seasons -- returned after taking over the Twins on June 21. Miller was trying to play down the event, but was glad to be back.
"It really hasn't hit me yet that I'm back," he said before he won his first game from the first base side of Memorial Stadium. "When I go out and see the crowd or go to home plate (with the lineup card), I'm sure I'll have a feeling inside. But there are so many things you have to do when you're managing that it will be all baseball back in the dugout."
He has been trying to rekindle some of the spark the Twins had a year ago when they challenged in the West. The main problem was the pitching staff, which was tied for last in earned run average (4.70) in the league as of Sunday.
"I want them to just try to concentrate on how to pitch hitters and how we defense hitters," Miller said. "We're trying to get more organization before the game, so when we make a change in the game everybody knows what we're doing. It helped, me being a pitching coach from the outside and letting them know what I thought."
Last night, he got what he needed. John Butcher lasted 6 2/3 innings. Frank Eufemia came on in the seventh. Ron Davis (2-5) pitched the ninth and 10th for the victory.Dixon was in trouble early before he settled down in the fourth inning. But by then, he was behind, 3-1. Murray's RBI single had provided the Orioles' run in the first.
If it was a happy occasion for Miller, it was not for Alan Wiggins, who made his first appearance in Baltimore after joining the team Friday in Kansas City. He received a warm reception from the crowd, but he realizes that with Weaver on the prowl, this is not the best time to be an Oriole.
"It was uplifting," said Wiggins, who had two hits. "I would trade in the hit for a win. This is a crucial time with a week left in the first half. I'm pleased with my performance, but if you don't win . . . "
He didn't have to finish the sentence. Weaver will take care of that.