The way Storm Davis is pitching, the Orioles wish they had fingerprinted the impostor who wore No. 34 in June and July.
Davis, looking as refreshed as if he had taken a two-month vacation, won his fourth straight game tonight as Baltimore hit three home runs and breezed past the Oakland A's, 6-1.
Davis (9-7) seemed headed for a second straight shutout until Bruce Bochte homered with one out in the ninth. He yielded five hits, walked two, struck out three, threw 114 pitches and was in such command that the game required only 2 hours 8 minutes, the Orioles' fastest nine-inning game of the season by six minutes.
"I'm trying to be aggressive with every pitch," Davis said. "I've been able to get my concentration back and keep my strength up. And I've learned if things go bad, there's no excuses to be made. I keep my mouth shut and try to get the job done."
"This is the real Storm Davis," pitching coach Ken Rowe said. "His arm speed has picked up and he's more aggressive. His fast ball is back up to 90-plus and he's challenging the hitters. Before, he was cutting everything. Now, if he throws a good fast ball, he can use the offspeed stuff after it and it works."
For the Orioles, Floyd Rayford had three hits, including his 11th homer; Cal Ripken, whose 21st homer plus a single boosted his hitting streak to 12 games, longest currently in the American League, and Alan Wiggins, who embellished three singles with his 22nd stolen base. Mike Young broke out of a two-for-19 slump in his final at bat and hit his 24th homer, tying him with hitless Eddie Murray for the club lead.
If some are surprised about Young catching Murray, so is the switch-hitting outfielder, who has 135 fewer at bats than the man who today signed a five-year, $13 million contract.
"It's something I never thought about," Young said. "I just go up there and try to get hits. I'd like to have played when I didn't, but the circumstances were beyond my control, so I have to take what I can."
It is hard to imagine anyone making 667 major league starts, but that was the statistic reached tonight by Oakland's Don Sutton. If it is true that the brain can only remember so much, this one would be good to forget.
In five innings, Sutton gave up five runs, eight hits, two homers and two walks. He stayed on hold at 293 victories, losing his 226th game instead, and was so ineffectual that he got only one of the two strikeouts he needed to reach 3,300. "It was a bad night not to have a good night," he said. "Mr. Davis was dealing."
"It wasn't one of Don's better nights," Oakland Manager Jackie Moore said. "He got off to a shaky start and then they hit some home runs. It seems like they hit a home run every night."
This was the 22nd time this season the Orioles have hit three or more homers. They lead the majors with 173.
It is unfortunate for the A's, whose pennant hopes are fading, that most of their games are at night. They are 16 games over .500 in daylight, 13 games under after dark.