It was long after the game had ended, and instead of Orioles Manager Earl Weaver savoring an 11-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins, highlighted by Eddie Murray's grand slam, he was saying, "It's a damn shame what happened."
Weaver was referring to the line drive that broke one of Nate Snell's right ribs in the seventh inning, sending Baltimore's best pitcher to the sidelines for at least two weeks.
Snell, who has worked more innings than any relief pitcher in the American League, had pitched 2 2/3 innings, lowering his earned run average to 2.12, and ended up with the victory, which improved his record to 3-1.
The injury sent Weaver and Hank Peters, the team's general manager, into a late-night discussion concerning what move might prevent the already shaky bullpen from collapsing.
Even though Murray's 10th career grand slam gave Baltimore a 10-5 lead in the sixth, the Orioles weren't out of trouble until the last batter in the ninth, Tom Brunansky, flied out off Tippy Martinez with the bases loaded.
Martinez later said he had been experiencing some tendinitis in his throwing arm, which would only add to Baltimore's pitching problems.
"The bullpen was already dry, and when you need (Snell) most, you get the injury, which will only throw more work on the other guys," Weaver said.
Weaver said his first option was moving starter Storm Davis to the bullpen. Weaver went looking for Davis, who already had left the clubhouse. "I don't know what we're gonna do," Weaver said. "I guess we'll have to wait 'til later in the day to find out."
Weaver was asked if one of the options was bringing in Mike Flanagan, who is recovering from an offseason Achilles' tendon injury and is expected to rejoin the team next week. But Weaver said that Flanagan needed to pitch Wednesday night in a rehabilitation assignment at Class A Hagerstown.
Peters said he would talk "with Mark Wiley (manager of Class AAA Rochester) and we will make a decision in time to have somebody here by game time tomorrow."
Weaver said, "Whoever is coming in, he's getting a break. He may come and get a chance in the bullpen and stay there all year. Whoever it is will have to be ready in a day or two. Storm is going to have to help out if he can."
Eventually, they made a decision to call up Phil Huffman, a 27-year-old right-hander who has a 6-7 record and 3.35 ERA in 94 innings at Rochester. He was 6-18 with a 5.77 ERA in Toronto in 1979, his only major-league experience.
Against the Twins tonight, Dennis Martinez started, but lasted only four innings while giving up five runs.
The Orioles, in fact, trailed, 4-0, after three innings. A six-run fourth put them ahead to stay. John Shelby drove in two runs in that inning, as did Alan Wiggins, who continues his very successful comeback.
Having played only five games with the Orioles, Wiggins took over the team stolen base lead by twice stealing second. Another hit in the sixth gave him a .318 average in 22 at bats.
"And he's got some big RBIs," Weaver said. "He's a contact hitter, so it doesn't take him as long to come around. If he was a Reggie Jackson or a Lee May coming in, it would take him longer to start hitting home runs and putting a bat on the ball. His legs still aren't 100 percent . . . They still get a little heavy on him during the course of a game. But he looks good and he's coming around. He's moving."
Wiggins, Lee Lacy and Cal Ripken were on base in the sixth when Murray hit his homer over the wall in left, sending many in the crowd of 21,560 into a frenzy that wouldn' quiet until Murray had leaned out of the dugout and doffed his helmet.
The homer came off Curt Wardle, who had relieved starter Ken Schrom (7-8).
Snell, who has been one of the biggest surprises of the season as a 32-year-old rookie sinker-baller, had allowed only one hit when he threw his 40th pitch tonight. Designated hitter Mike Stenhouse lined the ball straight back into the ribs of Snell, who somehow -- while sprawling on the ground in pain -- picked up the ball and threw out Stenhouse at first.
Snell was the only Orioles pitcher with an ERA under 4.00.
Outfielder Dan Ford's rather unproductive season with the Orioles came to an end today when Dr. Lewis Yocum prescribed conventional surgery on Ford's left knee. Ford batted .187 in 28 games this season, and had one run batted in, on a home run.