Pitching and defense go together like hand and glove. But in Baltimore last season the two of them were more like foot and mouth. It once was the Oriole Way to catch the ball efficiently, as the team's 48 Gold Gloves from 1960 to '84 prove. Last year, though, five second basemen and 10 third basemen, including pudgy third baseman Floyd Rayford, the Oriole Weigh, tried and failed. "Jim Palmer didn't always make good pitches," new manager Cal Ripken Sr. says, "but Brooks Robinson was there to make the play. Our pitching was not as bad as its 4.30 ERA."
Rick Burleson and Ray Knight, who will play alongside Cal Jr. at second and third, respectively, haven't been known for their defense since the late '70s, but they will help. At least Knight has a seven-year-old son named Brooks. Ripken opened both the leftfield and rightfield jobs to all comers. Rookie Ken Gerhart, a 25-year-old Tennesseean who answers to Gomer in the clubhouse, had a good enough spring to win a place in left. John Shelby earned the rightfield and leadoff spots.
First baseman Eddie Murray couldn't decide what hurt more last season: his hamstring, his left hand or his feelings—owner Edward Bennett Williams had criticized his playing. Soon after arriving in camp, Murray asked that "everyone put their knives away." But then he sharpened his by saying that the owner "reacted like a fan" during their feud. Maybe last season won't be so easy to forget after all.
The Orioles were 11-24 in games in which he led off last year.
Played more games last season (93) than in the previous four years combined (51).
Batted 105 points higher (.360-.255) vs. lefthanders than against righties.
First time in 10-year career that Murray failed to hit 20 homers.
Orioles were 54-50 (.519) when he started, 19-39 (.328) when he didn't.
Homered in Mets' season opener, season finale and World Series clincher.
Orioles starting catchers had only 40 RBIs last year, fewest in majors.
Drove in 10 of 12 runners from third base with less than two out.
Had a 14-5 record as of Aug. 4, before losing his last seven decisions.
His first losing season since he went 3-5 for the Orioles in 1977.
ERA of 7.61 after Sept. 1 was worst in the major leagues.
Had 3rd highest ERA in AL in June (6.89), 3rd lowest in July (1.57).
Has faced 50 batters with the bases loaded in his career without allowing an extra-base hit.
More saves last season than in previous three seasons combined (26).