The New York Yankees harkened back to some of the excitement of the early summer this beautiful late-season afternoon, defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2, before a crowd of 33,873 at Memorial Stadium and breaking an eight-game losing streak.
For Orioles fans, developments were more disheartening than just a defeat. A line drive by Mike Pagliarulo caromed off starting pitcher Storm Davis' lower right forearm and probably ended Davis' season.
Davis (10-8), who had given up seven hits for three runs in 2 2/3 innings, was removed to Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where it was discovered he had suffered a "bruised nerve and tendon damage," a team spokesman said.
A specialist is expected to examine Davis Monday. Team spokesman Rick Vaughn said tonight it will be at least 10 days before Davis can throw again, so it is unlikely he'll pitch this season.
Things were more upbeat for the Yankees, although by nightfall they still found themselves trailing Toronto by 6 1/2 games.
Rickey Henderson and pitchers Joe Cowley and Brian Fisher led the way. Henderson had two hits and stole three bases, tying the all-time Yankee record of 74 set in 1914 by Fritz Maisel, who lived and died in Baltimore. For the season, Henderson is batting better than .600 against Orioles pitching.
Cowley shut out the Orioles on three hits through six innings before Floyd Rayford hit a two-run home run, his 15th and Baltimore's 199th homer of the season. Fisher came on in the seventh and yielded two hits the remainder of the game, getting out of a jam in the eighth when Rayford -- representing the potential tying run -- flied out to Henderson in deep center field.
That scenario was set up by a hit followed by an error by second baseman Rex Hudler, the rookie subbing for injured Willie Randolph. Such miscues invariably led to the Yankees' downfall in recent days, so the fact that they didn't today gave Manager Billy Martin some room for encouragement.
"I've lost a lot of games at this park after an error but not today," he said. "I've been waiting for the last out in a game for the last eight days."
Martin appeared to be in a relaxed mood following the victory, so much so that he could joke about his protesting the contest before the bottom of the ninth. The protest came after shortstop Bobby Meacham was ejected for, according to Martin, "smiling at the umpire. I guess you can't laugh in this game."
Martin could smile a lot today. Ken Griffey and Ron Hassey homered for New York and Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield each drove in a run in the eighth inning to solidify the win.
"They hit good pitches and they hit them hard," said Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver. "Storm would get two strikes on 'em in no time. Griffey must have fought off five or six good pitches before he got his hit."
The Yankee pitchers fared much better. Cowley, winner of his 11th game in 16 decisions, was removed when his arm stiffened but nothing was lost with the move to Fisher, whose fast ball was clocked at 94 mph. "The way he was throwing, there was never any doubt that we'd win," said designated hitter Don Baylor.
Well, maybe just a little one, namely Rayford's eighth-inning liner. "That ball was down by his ankles," Fisher said. "When he hit it, I didn't think it would go out but maybe over Rickey's head. (When he caught it) I said, 'Whew, escape.' "
That was just the sentiment that Martin expressed about the pennant race, of which he said, "If Toronto loses we're just 5 1/2 out and anything can happen." Toronto won, 2-1, over Milwaukee.
Weaver agreed. "Today will pick them up a bit. Even though there are only two weeks left, things will go back and forth."