Usually Cuellar is a quiet, collected and brisk workman on the mound, but sometimes he loses his temper. The first five batters to face him a few weeks ago hit safely and one of the hits was a grand-slam home run. He got into several arguments with the umpire during the bombardment and finally took himself out of the game because he was so upset. His wife Emma says that on the night before he pitches, "We'll be sitting there watching television and suddenly his muscles will jump out and his arm will shoot out."
McNALLY. "Pitching," he says, "is just a matter of not giving up and not giving in." The only exception to this rule is when Frank Howard is up. Howard, McNally confides, "has more than a great deal of confidence when he's against me, and I have less than a little confidence against him. I'd rather walk him and get it over with."
The Angels' Jim Fregosi says: "The question came up the other day, 'Who would you like to have as your pitcher if you had to win one game for everything?' I'd pick McNally." McNally seems always to be pitching out of trouble. Reliever Pete Richert calls him "Super Tarp," because "he takes just enough line to make you think you have him hooked, just like a tarpon, but he'll spit that hook out every time."
PALMER. He tests his reflexes in a game with his roommate, Leonhard. Leonhard throws two baseballs at once and Palmer catches both, one in each hand. "I once caught two 20 times in a row," he says. "And I can catch three at once, too. I'd like to try four, but Dave can't throw four at once."
When he was still looking for his 20th victory and McNally and Cuellar had 23 each, Palmer said, "I think I've pitched as well as Cuellar and McNally. That's what concerns me right now—people around the country think of me as the other starter with the Orioles. Look, I've said you've got to be lucky when you pitch—lucky, lucky—and I haven't been." He also said, "Look at this. My face is broken out in a rash and I know it isn't the strawberries I ate. It must be this trying to win 20. I'm too old for pimples."
When Sonny Siebert of the Red Sox made him hit the dirt with a close pitch early this year, Palmer said, "He's crazy to throw at me because I throw harder than he does."
That, then, is the Orioles' Big Three. Weaver figures that in any Series he has a 50% chance of winning the first game with any one of the three going against the other club's ace. And then "no one can match our guys in the second and third game."
Finally, Weaver faces right up to the question. "If you went into the last game of the season with each of your Big Three needing one win for 20, whom would you pitch?" he is asked.
"Phoebus," Weaver replies.