He teased the Baltimore Orioles with changeups and batting-practice fastballs, then broke their bats with hard curveballs. And for one night, 25-year-old Kirk McCaskill was the kind of pitcher teams dream about.
In doing so, McCaskill stopped a team that had appeared unstoppable, tossing a two-hitter tonight as the California Angels beat the Orioles, 2-0, before 35,729 at Anaheim Stadium.
The loss was only the fourth in 20 games for the 28-18 Orioles, but it cost them a chance to move into second place in the American League East.
They also fell 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, but they did it in style, losing to a second-year pitcher who was at the top of his game.
"That's the best I've ever thrown in my life, bar none," said McCaskill. "Tonight I felt total control. . . . This one was so much fun to pitch, I was sad to see it end."
The Orioles are 6-2 on this nine-game West Coast swing that ends Sunday afternoon. They are home for games against Milwaukee Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then back on the road for three games in New York and three in Milwaukee.
The Angels got their runs tonight on Gary Pettis' fifth-inning two-run single. That was all they needed because the only Orioles hits were second baseman Alan Wiggins' leadoff infield single in the first inning and Jim Dwyer's pinch double in the ninth.
Most of the game, McCaskill (4-3) was completely in command, allowing three walks and striking out five in pitching the second shutout and eighth complete game of his career.
The Orioles hit into two double plays and had only two runners as far as second base.
"He had good stuff, a good fastball," said Orioles Manager Earl Weaver. "I'll tell you, he was throwing what we were looking for. He had the runner on second in the fifth and threw Mike Young a 3-1 curveball, then a 3-2 curveball. When you can get it over like that, well, that's how you win."
McCaskill threw the third shutout of the season at the Orioles, and the victim was starter Storm Davis (4-4), who allowed seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Davis pretty much matched McCaskill except in the fifth inning. That's when Reggie Jackson singled, Dick Schofield doubled and Pettis lined a single to center for the runs.
"Reggie just went down and got a curveball," Davis said. "I didn't think he would, but he's a real good hitter -- that's obvious. Schofield's a good little battler, and the one to Pettis . . . That's just one of those things."
Davis lasted until the eighth inning, when Pettis and Ruppert Jones got leadoff singles. After Rob Wilfong popped out, Weaver went for left-hander Tippy Martinez to finish up.
Davis sailed through the first four innings, allowing only a Wally Joyner single and two walks, before the Angels took their lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Davis worked the .224-hitting Pettis to a full count before laying a fastball down the middle. Pettis lined it into center, and Jackson and Schofield scored what would prove to be the only runs of the game.
Davis was back in trouble in the sixth when Rob Wilfong lined a one-out single to center and Joyner walked. But Davis then did some of his best work of the night, getting Brian Downing on a pop fly to center and striking out Jackson on a high fastball.
But this was McCaskill's night. After Wiggins beat out an infield single to open the game with the Orioles' first hit, he was immediately erased on Lee Lacy's double-play grounder.
McCaskill walked Eddie Murray to lead off the second, and after Cal Ripken struck out, Larry Sheets hit into another double play.
The Orioles didn't get another runner until Ripken drew a one-out walk in the fifth. He got to second on Sheets' groundout but stayed there as Young took a called third strike.
McCaskill handed Dempsey a one-out walk in the sixth but retired the next eight Orioles in order before Dwyer led off the ninth with a double. He then retired the final three batters.
"Kirk just threw a real good game," Davis said. "He was real aggressive, and he got his breaking stuff over."
Orioles left-hander Mike Flanagan flew back to Baltimore this morning to have his sore left elbow examined by team doctors. Flanagan left Friday's start after two innings when the elbow stiffened on him, although he doesn't believe it's serious. He tentatively is scheduled to pitch Saturday at Yankee Stadium. . . . Reliever Don Aase won the Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Month award for May with 20 points. Pitchers are awarded two points for a victory or a save and have one point deducted for a loss. Aase is only the second reliever to accumulate 20 points in a month since Rolaids began the monthly awards in 1982. Goose Gossage had 22 in May 1982. . . . Weaver gave Floyd Rayford a start at third tonight, and his slump got a little worse as he went zero for three and struck out twice. Rayford is in a 0-for-25 slump and his average is down to .128.