Storm Davis decided it was about time he went back to the thing that got him to the major leagues. So his fast ball played a commanding part as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Texas Rangers, 9-1, tonight in front of 16,580 at Memorial Stadium.
"It's something that I had gotten away from," Davis said of the fast ball, which helped him to strike out seven and even his record at 7-7. "A strong arm is something God has blessed me with. There are times when you have to change speeds, but you have to use what's best."
Davis was sailing along on a 7-1 lead when trouble set in. But, it wasn't caused by the Rangers. Davis seemed to stumble after throwing a pitch in the seventh, and left after facing one batter in the eighth. Sammy Stewart finished the game.
Davis said the problem, in general, was fatigue in his legs, and, specifically, some soreness in the upper thigh of his left leg. He did not think he would have to miss his next start.
"My legs felt like the spaghetti in that bowl over there," Davis said of the clubhouse cuisine.
Starting pitching has not been a pleasant subject when it comes to the Orioles of 1985, so Davis' performance was a welcomed respite.
"What he did was put a little extra on it when there were guys in scoring position, like (Jim) Palmer used to," Manager Earl Weaver said.
"There is no doubt that pitching is the most important part of the game," said Cal Ripken, who drove in four runs, three on a home run that keyed a five-run second inning. It was Ripken's 18th homer of the year and 100th of his career.
"Our pitching staff is one of the most talented in the league," he said. "They have been a little inconsistent this year, but they definitely have the talent. I expect that they'll get hot and carry the offense. We have the ability to run off a long winning streak -- that's what it all boils down to."
When Davis beat the Rangers, 9-8, last Saturday in Arlington, the victim was Chris Welsh (2-5), who got roughed up early. This time the town was different but the tune was the same.
After Davis had set the Rangers down with two strikeouts and a ground ball in the first, Welsh got Orioles leadoff hitter Alan Wiggins to pop out. Then things got nasty for Welsh.
Lee Lacy doubled down the right field line, and Ripken did the same down the left side to score Lacy. Ripken scored on a single by Eddie Murray, who was thrown out by left fielder Gary Ward when he didn't slide going into second. Murray argued the call for a minute, and was then joined by Weaver who was just making sure he didn't lose a first baseman.
Gary Roenicke and Floyd Rayford led off the second with singles, and Roenicke moved to third on Rick Dempsey's fly ball to right. Wiggins -- who has yet to homer as an Oriole -- missed one by about three feet. His double off the wall in left scored two runs and meant the end of Welsh.
Dickie Noles relieved, but was slow in getting started. He gave up a single to Lacy and then Ripken took him 15 rows deep in the left field seats for a 7-0 lead. After that, Noles retired 18 straight hitters.
"Haven't we had this conversation before," Rangers Manager Bobby Valentine said when asked about the hole his team dug for itself. "It's tough getting seven runs down. It's not very enjoyable, I'll tell you."
The Orioles got two more needless runs in the eighth. Murray walked, moved to second on Lynn's single and to third on Wayne Gross' fielder's choice. Gross had hit for Mike Young, who went hitless in three tries after two homers in the previous two games. Murray scored on John Shelby's single and Gross scored on a single by Rayford. The replay appeared to show Gross pulling the ball out of the glove of catcher Gino Petralli.
Davis surrendered his only run in the third when George Wright and Petralli led off with singles. Davis struck out Steve Buechele, but allowed an RBI single to Wayne Tolleson. He struck out Toby Harrah, but then walked Oddibe McDowell to load the bases. But he induced Pete O'Brien to ground out to end the disturbance.
Davis' only other trouble occurred in the sixth when he walked McDowell leading off, and gave up a double to O'Brien, with McDowell stopping at third. But Davis struck out Ward and Duane Walker, and got Wright to ground out to Ripken at shortstop.
"We got key outs when we had to," Davis said. "Rhino (Roenicke) made an excellent play with O'Brien's ball (in the second), Rayford made an excellent play on Ward's ball and I got a double play out of Tolleson when we had to have it. That's what last year was about. We got key outs when we had to. This year, up to this point, we haven't."