When the Orioles season opened, a lot of people thought manager John Oates was whistling Dixie when he said he didn't have to worry about any department as long as he had the kind of pitching the club showed this spring.
Two weeks into the American League season, it looks as if Oates might be right. This club, 6-5 and three games behind first-place Toronto in the AL East after three straight wins over Detroit, may have the pitching to carry it.
The O's are getting one impressive performance after another -- from Rick Sutcliffe, then from Mike Mussina, yesterday eight strong innings from Bob Milacki in the 3-2 win over the Tigers here.
And there's more.
"This guy pitching [tonight] might be the best one of all," Tigers manager Sparky Anderson says.
That, of course, is Ben McDonald, who will pitch the series finale. The 6-foot-7 McDonald, he of the enormous potential, is showing signs that this could be his year. He's 1-0 with an earned run average of 1.84.
In fact, the staff ERA is 2.82. Last year it was 4.59.
"You may see this kind of pitching all year from Baltimore," said Sparky.
As impressive as the Orioles pitchers are, the player who had the crowd of 43,548 buzzing yesterday was big Sam Horn -- and he did it merely by hitting two long foul balls.
Unfortunately, Horn struck out against Walt Terrell in that at-bat (he was 0-for-3 with a walk for the day). The fans love to see big Sam take those big swings.
* Some people were surprised to see Gary Williams at Johns Hopkins Saturday as the University of Maryland lacrosse team upset the Blue Jays, 13-9.
For some reason people tend to think one of the best basketball coaches in the country, which Williams certainly is, has to be one-dimensional. Gary is not that.
"I went to Maryland [class of '68]," Williams reminded us, "so I know lacrosse. Buddy Beardmore was our star when I was in school."
Williams came to Homewood for no other reason than to pull for Maryland in a big lacrosse game against its oldest traditional rival. Maybe his presence helped. The Terps, who are now 6-3, won at Hopkins for the first time since 1976.
"This was a big win for Dick [Maryland coach Dick Edell]," Williams said. "I'm really happy for him. I hope this win will get Maryland rolling."
Edell says Williams is a real team player when it comes to Maryland athletics.
"I appeared at a function with Gary last Thursday night," Edell said, "and he said that good things that happen to Maryland lacrosse now can carry over and help Mark Duffner's football team in the fall, and good things that happen in football can help basketball next winter. I like that attitude."
* Howard "Chip" Silverman, author of "Diner Guys" and lifelong friend of Boogie Weinglass, says this about Baltimore's -- and Boogie's -- chances of getting back in the NFL:
"Boogie has 80 shops in malls and shopping centers owned by [49ers owner] Eddie DeBartolo's family and DeBartolo is on the NFL's expansion committee. That ought to tell you something.
"Boogie says Charlotte's financial setup is not strong enough. St. Louis is in because they made a deal with the league to buy the Patriots. Boogie says it's St. Louis and Baltimore."
* The most impressive lacrosse record owned by any school in this area is that of the Loch Raven High School girls. During the past 20 years -- which pre-dates the arrival five years ago of coach Wendy Gallin -- Loch Raven is 213-6-1. At the moment the team is undefeated (7-0) and appears to be headed for yet another Baltimore County championship.
Says Gallin, who played at Maryland and Towson State: "Most of our girls have never played lacrosse until they come to us in the ninth grade."
When Gallin attended the Towson State-Hofstra women's game recently she saw three of her former players in action -- two for Towson, one for Hofstra. All are on lacrosse scholarship.
* Those who see Eddie Murray play every day for the Mets say the ex-Oriole's age (36) is showing in the field. The former Gold Glove first baseman has very little range now. That's hard to cover up in that league. There's no DH.