It has taken almost a year, but Earl Weaver finally has the Baltimore Orioles playing his kind of baseball, which is pitching and power.
Weaver, after being in retirement for almost three seasons, returned last June 12, replacing Joe Altobelli. For the rest of last season the Orioles were barely over .500 and were below .500 after 26 games (12-14) this season.
A little more than a week ago the Orioles started to jell. They are now the hottest team in the American League.
Eddie Murray hit a grand slam and three run-scoring singles Sunday at Baltimore to lead the surging Orioles to a 13-4 rout of the Oakland A's. It was the eighth win in the last nine games for the Orioles.
During the spurt the Orioles have been getting solid pitching, often from the bullpen. On Sunday, Oakland chased Mike Flanagan and jumped in front, 4-2, in the fifth inning. Rich Bordi then came in and pitched scoreless ball for 4 innings to gain his second victory during the streak.
For several years Murray has been as good a ballplayer as there is in the majors. But, in mid-January in a basketball game, something "popped" in his left ankle. It bothered him until just recently.
In the first 32 games, he batted .256 and drove in just 17 runs. In the last two games he has five hits, two of them home runs, and has driven in 11 runs.
"I never worry about Cal Ripken or Eddie Murray," Weaver said. "I know that over the long haul they will do their job.
"In this streak, I've seen something very encouraging. There is a relaxed attitude in the clubhouse. They seem quiet and calm returning from victories. I like that."
Grand slams are becoming a Murray trademark. He has hit two this season and 14 in his career to tie former Dodger Gil Hodges for eighth on the all-time list.
Although the Orioles won two out of three from the A's, they didn't figure out how to stop Tony Phillips. Phillips, who went 5 for 5 to lead the A's to a win in the opener, was 2 for 3 in this game and scored twice. He was 10 for 13 in the series.
Chicago 5, Kansas City 1--The White Sox, a much improved club since they decided to retain Tony LaRussa as manager, have two hot hitters leading the way.
In this game at Chicago, Carlton Fisk hit a three-run home run and Harold Baines had two more hits to lead the White Sox to their fifth win in a row.
Nobody is hotter than Baines. In the three-game sweep of the world champion Royals, Baines was 10 for 13. Fisk, who has had two three-hit games since returning to catching, his first love, is 8 for 21 during the winning streak.
"I don't believe switching to catcher has anything to do with it," Fisk said after hitting his first home run since April 16. "I never think of hitting one out against a pitcher as good as (Bret) Saberhagen (2-4). All you hope to do is make contact and hit the ball hard."
New York 11, Seattle 3--In their second-consecutive 11-run outburst against the Mariners at New York, the Yankees relied on one position for much of their output.
Mike Easler opened as the designated hitter, had two hits and scored two runs. Gary Roenicke batted for him in the fifth and hit a two-run home run. In the eighth, Ron Hassey batted for Roenicke, singled home a run and scored another in a six-run rally that broke it open.
"We've got the people available," Manager Lou Piniella said. "Why not use them?"
Don Mattingly had a single and double to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.
Boston 5, Texas 4--George Wright is considered one of the best center fielders in the league and has an outstanding arm. But the Ranger outfielder isn't likely to soon forget this game at Boston.
In the sixth inning he threw out a runner trying to score from second base, but in the 10th he made a wild throw that enabled two runs to score and the Red Sox to win it.
After the Rangers had taken a 4-3 lead on an unearned run in the top of the 10th, the Red Sox had Steve Lyons on second with one out. Marty Barrett hit a short fly to center. Wright made a diving try for a catch, but missed. Lyons, thinking it was caught, went back to second and Barrett was there, too. In the confusion, Wright threw toward third. The ball rolled into the dugout and both runners scored.
Minnesota 5, Milwaukee 3--Kirby Puckett had a single and a two-run double and Bert Blyleven pitched a four-hitter to enable the Twins to end a seven-game losing streak at Milwaukee.
Blyleven (4-3) had a one-hitter until the sixth when Rick Cerone homered, Robin Yount doubled and Cecil Cooper homered. Blyleven retired the last 10 batters in order.
Toronto 10, Cleveland 2--Damaso Garcia drove in four runs with a pair of singles and Ernie Whitt hit a two-run homer at Toronto as the Blue Jays extended their winning streak to three games.
Jim Clancy gave up seven hits in eight innings to win his fourth and hand the slumping Indians their fifth loss in a row and ninth in the last 10 games.