Ben McDonald threw 106 pitches yesterday, most of them to his satisfaction.
But two to Jose Canseco and one to Rickey Henderson provided a series-full of drama as the Oakland Athletics pinned a 4-3 loss and three-game sweep on the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium.
Two of the pitches were turned into home runs by Canseco and Henderson that lifted the Athletics from a 3-0 deficit and handed the Orioles their ninth defeat in 12 games.
But it was the first to Canseco that created the most commotion. It was a first-inning curveball that hit Canseco in the back of the neck as he tried to duck under the ball.
Canseco, who had another eventful weekend in a visiting park, took exception, glaring at McDonald and yelling at catcher Chris Hoiles as he went to first.
Canseco started toward the mound, but never got there as coach Dave McKay restrained him and plate umpire Dale Scott went out to intercept McDonald. The benches and bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.
McDonald never had hit a batter (781 before Canseco) in the majors.
"I'll just say one thing about that," McDonald said. "If I'm going to hit somebody purposely, it's not going to be with a curveball. It was the first curve of the game. It was just ridiculous."
Said Hoiles: "[Canseco] turned around and said to me, 'That's the last time.' But if we really wanted to hit him, we could have used a 94 mile-per-hour fastball."
Canseco, the target of opposing fans' abuse wherever he goes, engaged in a war of words with one spectator before the ninth inning of Saturday night's game. The fan was banished from the park.
"Lately, he has taken a few shots so he probably didn't have much patience for it," Oakland manager Tony La Russa said. "It was just a breaking ball that got away."
But Canseco got his revenge with his bat, unloading a 3-run homer off McDonald in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3.
It gave him the American League lead with Detroit's Cecil Fielder, who also hit his 27th last night, and tied him with Sal Bando for second on the club's all-time list (191). Reggie Jackson leads with 268.
"With the exception of that pitch, I felt like I threw real good," McDonald said. "I wanted it low and away and it was up and in. It was such a bad pitch, I was surprised he hit it out. It shows you how strong he is."
Rickey Henderson had golfed a single into center on a low pitch and Dave Henderson had broken his bat to chop a single through the left-side hole before Canseco's scorching line drive that landed just to the right of the 360-foot sign on the left-field wall.
Then, with one out in the eighth, McDonald served a bases-empty, game-winning shot to Rickey Henderson that traveled 400 feet.
L "I left it out over the middle of the plate," McDonald said.
And those two shots were enough on a day McDonald said he took "a really big step. I threw the ball even harder than usual, my location was good and I got some outs on changeups. I'm right where I want to be."
Unfortunately for him, the Orioles office took a lunch break after scoring three early runs against Bob Welch in two flurries that could have produced a lot more.
They left seven runners on base in the first four innings, then magnified the problem by failing to score with the bases loaded and none out in the seventh against Rick Honeycutt.
Honeycutt never had beaten the Orioles, the only club he had missed if you include a postseason win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in a well-traveled career.
This did not appear to be the day that would change when Joe Orsulak doubled, Cal Ripken was walked intentionally and Dwight Evans singled sharply to center to fill the bases in the seventh.
But Randy Milligan struck out on a 3-2 "slider down and in. It surprised me that he'd throw that with the bases loaded," Milligan said.
Chito Martinez was another strikeout victim on "three sliders, the last one away" and Leo Gomez fought his way through an 11-pitch at-bat before flying out to Canseco.
"I did the best I can," said Gomez, who hung in there. "Give credit to the pitcher. He kept making good pitches. I didn't see anything I could hit good.
"I wasn't swinging too hard, just trying to make contact to get a ground ball through or maybe an error."
That was the last-chance rally as Honeycutt, then Dennis Eckersley, who had blown three of his previous five save chances, shut down the Orioles the rest of the way.
"We had a lot of chances off Bobby [Welch] and one off Honeycutt," manager John Oates said. "We just couldn't execute.
"We'll take the way Ben threw today. Those balls aren't going to go out every day. But our situational hitting hurt us."
La Russa said Welch's keeping the Orioles within range was the key after the early struggles.
"Honeycutt got the win, but Bob was the most important thing going for us," he said.
The attack finally solved McDonald and down went the Orioles for the 31st time in 47 home games.