No matter how many times they try, or how slow and paunchy their opponent becomes, the Philadelphia Phillies just can't beat the 1983 Orioles.
Give it up.
Gathered at Camden Yards yesterday for the World Series reunion game, the Orioles used clutch hits from two role players to defeat the Phillies, 5-2, in four innings.
Third baseman Glenn Gulliver broke a scoreless tie with a two-run single down the right-field line in the second inning, and left fielder Gary Roenicke added a two-run double in the third.
Because Cal Ripken wasn't here, he couldn't catch a line drive and set off a wild celebration, as he did in Game 5. It probably was for the better. A few players looked like they wouldn't have survived anything too strenuous.
"I see some of these guys, but it's not often we get to talk. We've all gone our separate ways," said shortstop Lenn Sakata, a roving hitting instructor for the San Francisco Giants. "Our careers are behind us now. This is just for fun, and it's a chance to be around the guys again and enjoy each other's company."
Second baseman Rich Dauer had a run-scoring single in the second, as the Orioles took advantage of their superior roster. They had players at legitimate positions, while the short-handed Phillies kept rotating pitchers at first base, including starter Kevin Gross.
Back in '83, the Phillies started Pete Rose at first, but he's serving a lifetime suspension from Major League Baseball and couldn't participate. Second baseman Joe Morgan, first baseman Tony Perez, outfielders Garry Maddox and Gary Matthews and pitchers John Denny, Steve Carlton and Charles Hudson also were absent. Catcher Bo Diaz died in 1990.
Darren Daulton, a catcher in the majors, played second base and committed an error on Al Bumbry's ground ball in the second. Bumbry stole second - a late slide looked like it would shatter his ankles - and later scored on Gulliver's hit.
The crowd's energy level rose each time Eddie Murray stepped to the plate.
He slammed a double off the scoreboard in right field leading off the second, while the Phillies shifted their infield so third baseman Mike Schmidt stood at shortstop. Murray also flied to the warning track in left field in the third.
The game provided the expected comedic moments. Reliever Tim Stoddard, whose girth makes him look like a condominium with legs, was allowed to take some swings in the fourth inning as a tribute to his World Series single. That hit enabled him to become the first player to get an RBI in the Fall Classic in his first major league at-bat.
Stoddard grounded to Schmidt, who ran all the way to the mound before throwing to first and ending the game.
The most touching moment occurred when Tug McGraw was the last player introduced for the Phillies. McGraw, who had surgery on a malignant brain tumor in March, waved his cap during a prolonged ovation.
The Phillies got five straight singles in the third off Scott McGregor, the pitching coach at Single-A Frederick. Jim Palmer retired all three batters in the first, knocking down a hard one-hopper by Schmidt and recording the out.
Mike Boddicker and Bill Swaggerty also pitched.
Joe Altobelli returned to manage the Orioles. Still open to second-guessing, even in retirement, he batted Dan Ford first instead of Bumbry, who hit fifth ahead of Ken Singleton.
"They were all strong-willed players," Altobelli said, "and they were just as good off the field."