Jim Traber (who else?) hit a grand slam to highlight a nine-run fourth inning Sunday at Baltimore that carried the Orioles to an 11-3 victory and a sweep of their four-game series with the Chicago White Sox.
The Orioles, one of several teams in the American League East suddenly counted as a contender with the collapse of the Boston Red Sox, are only 4 1/2 games out of first place.
The rush up the ladder coincided with bringing up Traber, an outfielder-first baseman, from Rochester of the International League after the All-Star break.
Manager Earl Weaver and his players were about ready to give up when Eddie Murray, their best player, went out with a severe hamstring pull early in July. The Orioles trailed the Red Sox by 10 games when Murray was hurt. Ten days later, they still trailed by 10 and Murray was not getting better. So the Orioles, in desperation, brought up Traber, a 24-year-old left-handed hitter.
They really weren't expecting too much. In 21 at-bats late in the 1984 season, he had five singles. He missed almost half of last season with a knee injury. This year at Rochester, he was batting .306 with 10 home runs in 242 at-bats.
He has been a sensation. He long since quit being a temporary. When Murray returns next week, you can bet Weaver will find a place for Traber.
The Orioles are 8-3 since he joined the team. He has figured in five of the victories. The grand slam gave him five home runs in just 29 at-bats since rejoining the Orioles. It also gave him 13 runs batted in with his 11 hits.
His success should give encouragement to Bo Jackson, the Auburn running back who opted for baseball. In 1980 as a sophomore, Traber started at quarterback for Oklahoma State. But when he led the Cowboys to the College World Series in 1981 and '82, he was persuaded to give up football.
Weaver said Traber's start reminded him of Murray in 1977 when Eddie had 27 homers and 88 runs batted in as a rookie.
"When Eddie does come back, we'll find a spot for this kid," Weaver said.
Traber's home run, which came after the Orioles already had scored three runs in the inning, was an opposite-field fly ball that just dipped into the first row in left field.
"Some people get hot and some go into slumps," Traber said. "Everything just seems to be going right. I must be living right."
Scott McGregor (7-10) lost his shutout bid when Tim Hulett hit his ninth home run to open the seventh. After giving up three more hits, he departed.
New York 4, Minnesota 1--Ron Guidry came off the disabled list to pitch five solid innings at New York and give the Yankee pitching staff a much needed lift.
The Twins hammered out 17 runs in the two previous games, but Guidry held them to one run and three hits and struck out nine to win his first game since May 10. Guidry (5-8) had lost seven in a row before he went on the disabled list July 3.
Rod Scurry, also just off the disabled list, and Dave Righetti each followed with two scoreless innings, and the Yankees moved within three games of first in the East.
Bert Blyleven matched Guidry until Claudell Washington hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie. The other three times he faced Washington, Blyleven struck him out.
Oakland 1, Toronto 0--The Blue Jays, who lead the league in batting and in runs scored, found the A's pitching much too tough in the last two games at Oakland.
Alfredo Griffin walked with the bases loaded in the 15th for the only run in this game to give the A's a sweep of the three-game series, 11 wins in 12 games and a scoreless streak of 26 consecutive innings against the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays, trying to join the contenders in the suddenly interesting Eastern Division, had only two hits in nine innings Saturday in losing, 2-0.
Jerry Willard singled off Stan Clarke to open the 15th. An infield hit and a walk loaded the bases with two out. On a 3-and-2 count, Clarke's final pitch was high and outside.
Kansas City 5, Detroit 4--With pitching ace Bret Saberhagen suffering from a tender arm, the Royals decided he should pitch only about two innings.
In this game at Detroit, last year's Cy Young Award winner, who has had a horrible season, pitched two perfect innings. When Steve Balboni singled in the winning run in the ninth, Saberhagen improved his record to 6-10.
Milwaukee 8, Seattle 1--Tim Leary held the Mariners to seven hits in eight innings at Seattle to end his five-game losing streak.
Bill Schroeder hit a two-run home run to climax a six-run third that made it easy for Leary (7-10).
Cleveland 8, Texas 3--Tom Candiotti pitched seven solid innings to become a 10-game winner as the Indians escaped from Texas with one victory in the four-game series.
Ranger youngster Ed Correa struck out nine Indians in 4 innings, but his wildness, three stolen bases and an error contributed to his demise.
The Indians, with the benefit of only one hit, a single that extended Joe Carter's hitting streak to 13 games, scored twice in the first inning and built the lead to 8-1 by the seventh.
Despite the setback in Texas, the Indians are only 5 1/2 games back in the tightening race in the East