Just when frustration and desperation appeared ready to settle into the Baltimore clubhouse, Manager Earl Weaver fought back tonight with his secret weapon: his curly perm hairdo.
Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams called earlier in the day and said to Weaver, "We've got to change something." So Weaver went out and had his hair permed, the first time he has appeared with it in a game.
It had absolutely nothing to do with Baltimore's 4-2 victory over Minnesota here in the Metrodome. But for a team going as badly as the Orioles have been, it was as good an explanation as any for the team's one-night change of fortune.
"I've never lost a game with the perm . . . I hope I can say the same thing again tomorrow," Weaver said.
Mike Boddicker (same old straight hair) had a revised curve ball -- sweet as ever -- that was largely responsible for his eight strikeouts in seven innings. Don Aase then came in from the bullpen to blow away a possible eighth-inning Twins rally and hang on through the ninth to save his fifth game of the season.
Minnesota scored a run in the ninth on Tim Teufel's double. Roy Smalley's popup hit the dome and changed direction before settling into Eddie Murray's glove in foul territory for the game-ending out.
It was Murray's two-run homer in the first off Ken Schrom (8-10) that put Boddicker (10-10) and the Orioles ahead to stay.
Boddicker and his curve ball were too tough. He ended the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings with strikeouts, four of those with at least one runner on base and two of them on sharp, late-breaking curve balls that caught Steve Lombardozzi looking.
Boddicker said he has been "trying to find my 1983 curve ball," the one that breaks at the last moment.
He had been trying to break off a bigger curve. "But it was just rolling; you could see it all the way," he said. "The good one is right up on you before you can see it. This one looks bigger than it really is . . . It got me out of some innings tonight."
Boddicker, who had lost three straight decisions and nine of his last 12, looked like he was headed for a complete game, which would have been just the fourth for Baltimore in 33 games.
But when Boddicker hit Kent Hrbek to lead off the eighth, bringing Tom Brunansky to the plate, Weaver had visions of Brunansky's two-run homer that beat Boddicker, 2-1, in Baltimore two weeks ago.
"Anybody but Brunansky, I wouldn't have moved that quickly," Weaver said. "But I've gotta feel Boddicker feels he has to be careful with that guy. And I've gotta remember Aase's last two performances where he just shut 'em off."
Boddicker reminded Weaver that he had gone three balls, no strikes on Brunansky two weeks ago but had much better control tonight. "Earl had all good reasoning, though," Boddicker said. And Aase came trotting in.
After fouling off four pitches, Brunansky flew out to left field. Randy Bush's drive to the wall in right-center was a bigger scare for the Orioles, but Aase got out of the inning without a run scoring.
The victory enabled Baltimore to remain 9 1/2 games behind Toronto in the American League East.
Minnesota's Schrom allowed only five hits and struck out eight in eight innings, including Cal Ripken, Fred Lynn and Floyd Rayford twice each.
But one of the hits Schrom did allow was Murray's 15th homer of the season, with two out in the first, following Lee Lacy's triple.
Lacy also drove in a run, in the third, with a sacrifice fly that made it 3-0. Bush's RBI single in the bottom of the inning made it 3-1. But a ninth-inning rally got Baltimore another run and Mike Young another at bat.
With one out and Murray (who had walked) on third, Young singled to right to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and increase the Orioles' lead to 4-1, making it slightly easier for Baltimore to endure those final moments of tension.