For Angels designated hitter Don Baylor, it’s become a bit routine, but for the Baltimore Orioles and rest of the American League, it’s nothing but an Orwellian nightmare.
Baylor slugged three home runs in a game for the second time this season, knocking in five runs in the process, as the Angels bombarded the Orioles 10-4 in a Sunday afternoon contest at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Baylor last hit three HR’s in one game on May 17th, against the White Sox at Comiskey Park; for the year, he has 30 home runs and 82 runs batted in, leading the AL in both categories.
“I don’t know what it was,” said a beaming Baylor after the game, “but if it had anything to do with the Eggos I had for breakfast, you can bet I’ll be having more tomorrow.”
Waffles or not, Baylor seemed to possess superhuman powers when he connected for his trio of circuit clouts; each of Baylor’s shots traveled well beyond Memorial Stadium’s center field wall, which stands 445 feet from home plate, and his third dinged high off the National Bohemian Beer sign atop the scoreboard in left-center, bringing the 15,000 awestruck home fans to their feet. Orioles starter Dennis Martinez was the victim of the first two blasts, while the third came at the expense of Joe Kerrigan, the third of four Baltimore pitchers used in the game.
“He absolutely smoked it,” Kerrigan told WBAL about Baylor’s third HR. “I’ve had homers hit off me before, but not with that distance and ferocity.”
Baylor and the Angels struck early, taking a quick 2-0 lead with two out in the first when Baylor drilled a full-count offering off Martinez—with Joe Rudi on board after a double—for the first of his round-trippers on the day. That lead was short-lived, however, as the Orioles responded in the bottom half of the frame with a home run of their own from Doug DeCinces, whose connected with lead-off batter Ken Singleton on first to knot the score at 2-2.
Another O’s home run, this time by Pat Kelly with one down in the second inning, gave the O’s a 3-2 advantage; it would be their last lead of the game, however, as the Halos struck for three more tallies in the third—two of those coming on solo HR’s from Joe Rudi and Baylor once again—and two more in the sixth on Carney Lansford’s two-run single, which chased Martinez (4-15) from the proceedings and brought forth another Martinez, Tippy, who held the visitors scoreless in his two innings of work. Still, the Orioles owned a comfortable 7-4 lead after seven innings, with more damage yet to be done.
Meanwhile, California starter John Caneira, making his 1978 debut after spending the first half of the season at his team’s Salt Lake City affiliate, settled down after a shaky start and tamed the Orioles offense from the second inning on, allowing just two more hits and a pair of walks through the eighth, and without allowing a runner past first base. He served up a lead-off home run to Lee May in the ninth, but by then it was too late for the over-matched O’s, as the visitors had scored three more times in the top half of the ninth—two of which were again delivered by a Baylor home run—to claim the 10-4 win.
For Caneira (1-0), it was the first complete game of his short career, after he went without in the four September starts of his inaugural season of 1977. Both Baylor and Angels outfielder Rick Miller had three hits in the game to back Caneira’s 5-hit outing, and Baylor’s three homers put him at the 30 mark for the first time in his career, after eight seasons spent with Baltimore, Oakland, and California. With the win, the Angels took two out of three games in the series, knocking the fading O’s further down the AL East ladder.
The game marked the final visit to Memorial Stadium for the Halos this season, who travel back to Anaheim to begin a 4-game series with the resurgent A’s; the Orioles will remain in Baltimore and host the Twins for three games before hitting the road to face the Yankees and Blue Jays.
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