By the eighth inning, the scene was more Colts-Raiders than Orioles-Indians. Huge purple clouds had rolled in, a 20-mph wind was swirling in from left field and the wind-chill factor was in the 30s.
On a weird afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-3, before 13,039 chilled fans at Memorial Stadium, winning because a wind that had blown against them for eight innings finally blew with them.
They were down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth inning and trailing, 3-2, when pinch hitter Juan Bonilla's wind-blown double bounced off the right field wall to score Fred Lynn and Mike Young with the runs that saved a game that had appeared lost several times earlier.
For instance: John Shelby and Eddie Murray apparently lost home runs to the wind, and shortstop Cal Ripken hit a tremendous eighth-inning shot to left field that died in the wind.
"That was terrible," Orioles Manager Weaver said. "Awful. I've never seen a ball hit harder and stay in the park than the one Ripken hit. After seeing Rip's stay in, I wasn't going to count Bonilla's until I saw it hit the wall."
The wind was a factor in the other dugout, too. Cleveland Manager Pat Corrales admitted he stayed with rookie left-hander Scott Bailes so that Weaver would keep sending up right-handed hitters to flail into an impossible wind.
Meanwhile, the wind was blowing viciously out toward right field, which established the final bit of manager-versus-manager chess.
Cleveland reliever Dickie Noles pitched the seventh and eighth innings, and when he came out to open the ninth, Weaver's eyes must have lit up. If Noles stays, Weaver will have left-handed batter Jim Dwyer in the lineup somewhere in the ninth inning "even if catcher Rick Dempsey ends up playing third base," he said.
Noles stayed only long enough to walk pinch hitter Lynn.
With both his right-handed short relievers (Jim Kern and Ernie Camacho) ready, Corrales instead went for Bailes, who was making his first major league appearance.
"The wind had a lot to do with it," Corrales said. "You don't want a left-hander to get the ball in the air."
Bailes immediately threw four straight balls to Young to put the tying run (Lynn) on second and the winning run on first.
He then struck out Shelby and got Dempsey on a flyout to left.
That brought up Bonilla, hitting for third baseman Jackie Gutierrez.
Bailes got behind, 2-1, then got a fast ball low and away, which Bonilla lofted toward right fielder Joe Carter.
"To me, it looked like a routine fly ball," Corrales said.
Bailes said: "That's the strangest double I've ever seen. He is a line-drive hitter, and a double or home run didn't even cross my mind."
Said Carter: "It got about half way to me, and the wind just took it."
Bonilla's hit made a winner of Don Aase, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Mike Boddicker (six innings, two runs), but it also made a winner of Weaver, who was criticized Monday for not pinch-hitting for Dempsey in the eighth with the bases loaded.
This time, he made two late moves -- Aase for Boddicker, Bonilla for Gutierrez -- and both worked.
"Moves mean nothing," Weaver said with a smile. "If the guy comes through, it's a good move. If he doesn't, it's a bad move."
Bonilla went to spring training as the longest of long shots. He wasn't even on the Orioles' roster. He won a job because he hit better than .300 and played a natural and easy second base and third base.
He was released by the Yankees last winter after leading the International League with a .330 batting average. He got his release -- his free agency, actually -- because the Yankees, who needed a spot on their roster for the deals they were making with the Chicago White Soxs, asked him to sign a minor league contract.
He said he considered it, but saw the Orioles had released second basemen Rich Dauer and Lenn Sakata, so signed with Baltimore.
"I thought I had a chance coming into spring training," he said. "When I made the team, Earl told me he didn't know how much he'd use me.
"I hit that ball pretty good, but I didn't know what it'd do. I just kept watching Carter. It's a good feeling to come in here and know you've played a part in a big win."
The Orioles had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on singles by Alan Wiggins and Lee Lacy and a ground out by Ripken. The Indians came right back in the second to tie it, when Boddicker's wild pitch scored Mel Hall.
The Orioles then got a 2-1 lead on Lacy's single and Ripken's double, but the Indians got two in the fifth, one on Carter's home run into the wind and another on singles by Andy Allanson and Tony Bernazard.
The Orioles went zero for six with runners in scoring position in the first four innings, then had only one runner on base the next four innings as starter Neal Heaton and Noles were almost perfect.
"I didn't have real good location and I was getting cold," Boddicker said. "It was a real strange day. The wind was swirling in such a way that you'd look to the outfield and it was blowing from left to right and in. But in the area in front of the mound, it was blowing the other direction. You start thinking, 'What are you supposed to do?' "
Third baseman Floyd Rayford, on the disabled list because of bone chips in his left thumb, took batting practice this afternoon and apparently will be able to play Sunday in Texas.