At Rochester, Palmer started two games and could not make it halfway through either one, giving up 12 hits and nine earned runs in just seven innings. Palmer was put on Rochester's disabled list and returned to Baltimore to rest his arm and run in the Memorial Stadium outfield. So much for pancakes.
Wally Bunker? He has had elbow problems in the past (he got back to good health last year just in time to work in the Series) and has not been as effective as a starter this season, although he is doing a good job from the bullpen. Dave McNally has had his headaches and arm aches, too. He was inconsistent in his starts and finally admitted his elbow was bothering him (there must be bad-arm germs loose in Maryland). He was given a literal shot in the arm three weeks ago. Last Thursday he beat the league-leading Chicago White Sox on a five-hitter.
"The last few innings I was sharp," McNally said. "At first I couldn't get my curve over, but I'll take it. The way I'm going I'll take anything. The elbow is getting better. Now I can let out. Before, I thought I was throwing hard, but I was holding back without knowing it."
Even if McNally is healthy again, the pitching staff has other problems besides Palmer's shoulder. Marcelino Lopez, obtained from the Angels, is disabled. Off-speed relief specialist Stu Miller has a 1-8 record. And if it is not sore limbs or plain ineffectiveness, it is something else unpleasant, i.e. Knuckleballer Eddie Fisher is being sued for an alleged early-morning altercation with a house detective at a Chicago hotel.
The Orioles finally gave up on one pitcher, Steve Barber, who for several years was regarded as the ace of the staff. Barber, a native of Maryland, had long thought, and said, that Baltimore was no place to make big money. As the team's player representative, he was the leader in hatching a little plan in Florida to charge fees for radio and TV interviews. It lasted less than one day. Barber had tendonitis in his left elbow—that bug again—and missed the World Series, but there were times early this season when he looked like the man who had won 18 games in 1961 and 20 in 1963. He pitched a one-hit game early this season and later combined with Stu Miller on an unusual losing no-hitter, but he also was wild and inconsistent. He went AWOL after a bad start against Washington and was fined. After a loss to Cleveland he got his wish and was traded to New York, where the dollar bills supposedly grow thicker and higher. In return Baltimore got the equivalent of two pairs of sweat socks and a used fungo bat. At 28, Barber has plenty of potential left, but the Orioles obviously just wanted to get rid of him.
"We had twelve pitchers and wanted to get down to eleven," explained Vice-President Harry Dalton. "Steve should be a starter, and Hank had a rotation of five set up without him. He hadn't been effective."
It is common for a player to punish his old club after a trade. There is a certain joy in beating your old teammates, something akin to having Miss America on your arm when you happen to meet the ex-girl friend who jilted you. Twice this season Baltimore has been the ex-girl friend. Woodie Held, less than so-so with the Orioles, was traded to the Angels and immediately hit two home runs to beat the Orioles in a double-header. Mike Epstein, the former Cal fullback who refused to be farmed out and was traded to Washington, hit a grand-slam homer in his first at bat against the Birds.
Last Saturday night could have been Barber's turn. His first appearance as a Yankee was in Memorial Stadium. Vengeance was not his that night, however. He made two wild pitches and was knocked out in the fourth inning. Perhaps it was an indication that the Orioles' luck had changed, and they certainly needed a break or two. Besides the sore arms and hostile ex-teammates, they lost 19 of 29 one-run games up to the All-Star break and were not hitting up to past form.
"Our pitching has been better than most people give it credit for," says Harry Dalton. "It's our hitting that's been letting us down lately. Boog Powell's been down. At this time last season he was the hottest hitter in the league—.300, 19 homers, 67 RBIs. He's hitting .251 right now and has eight homers and 38 RBIs."
Another hitting disappointment has been Brooks Robinson, the B. Robby half of the act that led Baltimore to the championship last year. No one really expected Brooks to match last year's robust figures—100 RBIs, for instance—but at the All-Star break this year, he had an anemic 32.