He is still only 25, and since he came to the major leagues last season Kirk McCaskill has flirted with both greatness and mediocrity. The California Angels keep seeing the biting curve and the 88-mph fastball, the poise and control, and they say wait.
They had to wait right up until game time Saturday -- or about five minutes after game time.
That's when Baltimore Orioles second baseman Alan Wiggins led off the game with a bunt single, which started McCaskill on the best game of his young career. Wiggins got one of the two hits the Orioles had off McCaskill in a complete-game 2-0 victory before 35,729 at Anaheim Stadium.
The Orioles had only five base runners, three by walks and two by hits. The hits came from Wiggins' single in the first and Jim Dwyer's leadoff pinch double in the ninth.
In pitching the eighth complete game of his young career, McCaskill (4-3) stopped a team that had appeared unstoppable, handing the Orioles only their fourth loss in 20 games.
"That's the best I've ever thrown in my life, bar none," he said. "I felt in total control. It was a feeling I wish would have lasted all night. This one was so much fun to pitch I was sad to see it end."
He stopped and smiled.
"No, not really," he added.
He showed the Orioles only a couple of variations on two pitches, a good, hard curveball and an above-average fastball. But in doing so, he absolutely baffled them and won the pitcher-hitter chess game with an early checkmate.
"I've been having trouble with my slider, so I stayed away from it," he said. "I'm tired of getting hurt with it, so I showed only one slider all night."
Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said of him: "I'll tell you, he was throwing what we weren't 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."
Orioles starter Storm Davis (4-4) allowed only two runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. The Angels got their runs off him in the fifth when Reggie Jackson and Dick Schofield hit breaking balls and .224-hitting Gary Pettis lined a fastball into center for a two-run single.
"Kirk just threw a real good game," Davis said. "He was real aggressive and he got his breaking stuff over. When you see us missing fastballs, you know you've got us thinking. We're a good fastball-hitting team, and our guys will come through nine out of 10 times.
"Anytime I give up three or fewer runs, we've got a chance to win, so I can't complain."