Landrum was the second Oriole batter in the 10th, preceding Cal Ripken Jr. and Murray. Before Landrum moved out on deck, Ralph Rowe, the Baltimore batting coach, told him he'd been undercutting the ball. Storing that advice, Landrum stood in looking for a fastball, which was mostly what Burns had showed him so far. Landrum has no illusions. He's almost 29 years old, a perennial fringe player. Hitters like Kid Rip and Eddieeddieeddie are the ones pitchers work on; hitters like Landrum they won't be cute with, especially after having thrown 149 pitches, as Burns had. They must, as Landrum says, "go at" the Landrums. The fastball at him was a little high and not quite fast enough. He saw it "pretty good-sized" and hit it on a line under the wind, and Burns watched it land in the leftfield upper deck.
Mike Boddicker, the uncommonly handsome man who had been called upon to pitch Game 2, had been summoned from the minors on May 5. A 26-year-old wintertime grain-elevator worker, Boddicker had, not unlike Landrum, bounced around the minors, while bigger boys who fired smoke got their chances. Every winter he went back to Norway, Iowa (pop. 633), where most everybody hangs out at Rich's Roost tavern and where Boddicker lives with his wife, Lisa, the daughter of his American Legion coach. But if Boddicker's pitches were not fashionably live—"worse garbage than the stuff I take out at night," Rod Carew had said earlier this year, first time he got a whiff of it—his trash got him 16 wins, a 2.77 ERA and this start against Floyd Bannister. Boddicker prepared for the occasion by installing a CB in his pickup truck and playing video games.
And so he shut out the Sox, struck out 14—a record-tying total for a Championship Series—and won the series MVP honor for his part in taking the Orioles into the Metroliner series via Chicago.
In the four games against the Sox, the Birds crushed three home runs, one in each victory: Landrum's, a two-run shot off Bannister by Gary Roenicke that iced Boddicker's win and Murray's 420-footer to right center in the first inning of Game 3. That last blow was rife with ramifications.
First, it got Murray off a long-term schneid or two. He had bombed in the '79 World Series, taking the collar for his last 21 at bats, and his oh-fers in the first two games of these playoffs had left him 0-29 in postseason competition as well as 0-23 in his most recent sorties against the Sox.
So it was that Murray stepped to the plate against Richard Dotson, with Dwyer and Ripken on. Dotson's first pitch came close to grazing Murray's midsection, and in the Oriole dugout there was a surprised buzz. "Maybe," somebody said, "that'll wake him up." After taking another ball, Murray stood back in, opening and closing his hands on the bat handle. The pitch that came in then was the one that went back out 400 feet and more.
In the innings that followed there were some strange developments. Flanagan, the Oriole starter, struggling, hit Ron Kittle, who was leading off the fourth for Chicago, in the kneecap on a 3-2 pitch. It hurt a great deal, and Kittle, normally a most collected young man, screamed at Flanagan. Now, nobody can logically imagine anyone intentionally hitting the leadoff man in the fourth inning. Moreover, Baltimore is renowned as a team that never throws at the opposition. Earl Weaver, who managed the Orioles from 1968 through last season, would bellow at anybody who ever even idly proposed retaliation. But Kittle screamed, and it's baseball dogma that in such cases everybody has to rush out and act foolish, which is what happened for a while.
O.K. Top of the next inning, two out, Dotson plunks Ripken. Ripken smiles, waves the trainer away and calls over to Dotson from first base, "Is that all you got?" Dotson angrily fires the ensuing pitch way inside on Murray. Murray threatens Dotson. Dotson calls Murray an ugly name. Remember how this goes? LaRussa runs out. Orioles run out to make sure Murray doesn't hit LaRussa and get thrown out. Much milling and cooing follows. Even bullpens empty. Pitchers warned. Heavens to Betsy.
Dotson, coming to his senses, throws next three pitches very far outside, walking Murray. Gently. Then John Lowenstein doubles to make the score 6-1. Last Pale Hose to leave, turn out the lights.
Unfortunately it gets worse, because after the game, while LaRussa is declaring, "I'm here to tell you Ripken was not hit intentionally," Dotson, normally the most careful and taciturn of athletes, is telling sundry listeners that not only did he "hit Ripken on purpose," but he had "taken a poll" to find out which Oriole "would be the best to hit," since orders to do so had "come down from the grapevine." The next day, LaRussa explained away the seeming contradiction between his and Dotson's accounts as merely a case of Dotson's being "worked up." Flanagan, for his part, allowed as how "last year, real men didn't eat quiche. This year, real men don't pitch inside."