Mike Flanagan has talked of his career as if it were one more Shakespearean tragedy. Ten seasons of bad luck, of worse relief pitching, fewer runs and less luck than almost any of his peers.
He can show you scores, situations and results.
Tonight, on the way to a 12-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox, the Baltimore Orioles got him 11 runs in the first three innings. The lead was so big, so quick -- 7-0 after an inning -- and so unexpected that Flanagan didn't know how to handle it -- and didn't like trying.
"I actually didn't enjoy it," he said. "It wasn't a pleasure. After it was 7-0, I was thinking, 'How am I supposed to pitch -- throw all fastballs?' Everyone says you should pitch just like it's 0-0, but that's kind of hard. Actually, I could learn to live with it."
With 23,881 at Memorial Stadium, the 51-44 Orioles got home runs from Rick Dempsey, Lee Lacy and Jim Dwyer, and the fourth in five games from rookie first baseman Jim Traber. They also got three hits apiece from Juan Bonilla, Lacy and Dwyer on their way to 14 against three Chicago pitchers.
"It was awful," said White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi. " . . . I've never seen balls jump like they have in this park."
Despite the big victory, the Orioles shook up their roster after the game, shipping outfielder Mike Young, second baseman Alan Wiggins and catcher Floyd Rayford to the minors. They were replaced by catcher John Stefero and infielder Jackie Gutierrez from Rochester and utility man Tom Dodd from Charlotte. (See story, page C5.)
The victory moved the Orioles within 6 1/2 games of first-place Boston in the American League East, the closest they've been at the end of a day since June 25. It also allowed them to retake fourth place from Toronto.
Only 24 hours earlier, their clutch hitting had been horrible as they wasted 10 hits and 14 base runners in a 7-3 loss to Kansas City. Tonight, the worm turned, as they led by 7-0 after an inning, 8-0 after two and 11-0 after three.
Those runs allowed Flanagan (5-6) an easy evening at the opera and his third victory in three starts, the first time he has done that since since June 1984.
He allowed the White Sox five hits in 7 1/3 innings. They also got six runs -- including home runs by Greg Walker and John Cangelosi -- but three of the runs were unearned. Walker got his home run when center fielder Fred Lynn flipped the ball over the wall after having it in his glove.
Every Oriole in the lineup had at least one hit except Lynn and left fielder Larry Sheets. Yet, it was Traber that again gave the Orioles a reason to hope the 1986 pennant race isn't over.
The Orioles were desperate for another hitter when they recalled Traber from Rochester last week, and he has given them that, hitting .350 with four of his seven hits going out of the park.
What tonight's roster moves mean won't be clear for a week or two, but one thing appears clear: Even when first baseman Eddie Murray returns at the end of the month, Traber will play somewhere.
Because three of their starting pitchers failed to finish two innings this week, the White Sox began the game with a bullpen that was more than tired. The result was that starter Joe Cowley (5-6) went a full two innings, two innings that shot his ERA from 4.16 to 5.01.
The Orioles sent 11 men to the plate in the first inning and came away with seven runs, three on Dempsey's 10th homer.
Bonilla and Lacy led off with singles, and Lynn forced Lacy at second. Ripken struck out for the second out, but Cowley walked Traber to load the bases. Dwyer lined a single to center to make it 2-0. Sheets then walked, and O'Malley singled to center for a 4-0 lead. Dempsey's homer made it 7-0.
In the second inning. Traber's homer made it 8-0, and the Orioles got three more in the third on Lacy's three-run homer off reliever Bill Dawley.
Flanagan sailed through the first three innings without allowing a hit but allowed four runs in the fourth. The last three scored when Lynn crashed into the wall fielding Walker's drive and flipped the ball over the wall for a three-run homer. Lynn earlier had dropped Carlton Fisk's fly ball, making the three runs unearned.
The Orioles went ahead, 12-4, in the fifth on Dwyer's sixth home run and the White Sox cut it to 12-6 on Cangelosi's second homer of the season in the eighth.
Flanagan got Wayne Tolleson on a fly to right, but when Bonilla committed an error on Reid Nichols' grounder, Manager Earl Weaver brought in Rich Bordi to finish up.
Royals 1, Tigers 0: Lonnie Smith hit a home run in the eighth inning to give Scott Bankhead and Kansas City the victory in Detroit.
Rangers 7, Indians 3: Right-hander Mike Loynd made his major league debut in Arlington, Tex., and ended the Rangers' seven-game losing streak by beating Cleveland.