TORONTO -- Orioles left-hander Jamie Moyer may have been riding in a taxi at the moment he became the winning pitcher in yesterday's 6-2 victory over Toronto. Maybe he heard the end of the game on the radio, maybe he watched the final inning at the airport.
Because when Toronto's Mike Huff lined out to end the game, Moyer, who had pitched exceptionally for 7 1/3 innings, was long gone. Karen Moyer, his wife, is close to giving birth to the couple's third child, and Moyer had every intention of being with her at the delivery.
He had reservations for three different departures, one for yesterday morning (unnecessary, as it turned out), and then two others that left Toronto in the evening, the earlier flight at 5 p.m. Moyer asked manager Phil Regan if he could leave as soon as his role in the game ended, and Regan said that would be fine.
Regan went to the mound with one out in the bottom of the eighth, asked for the ball and said, "Good luck at home."
Moyer jogged off the field, stopping to chat very briefly with pitching coach Mike Flanagan. "Great job," Flanagan said. "I hope everything is OK at home."
It was 3:45 p.m. Moyer ran up the runway to the clubhouse, showered quickly. Hours before the game, his bags were packed, stacked in front of his locker, ready to go. Moyer's cab left at 4:15. The game ended at 4:32.
"To pitch the way he did with the kind of pressure he's been under is outstanding," said Regan.
Karen Moyer had gone to the hospital late Thursday night,
thinking their third child might be born overnight. Moyer called Regan in the wee hours to tell him he might be returning to Baltimore, but his wife's contractions subsided, and the pitcher stayed in Toronto.
But when he arrived at the park yesterday, Flanagan said, he looked drained, very tired. On the way to the ballpark, Moyer remarked to teammate Mike Mussina, "All I know is, I'm out of here."
Just before the game, Flanagan told him he just needed to concentrate on getting out the Blue Jays for the next 2 1/2 hours.
L "He switched gears like a true professional," Flanagan said.
Moyer pitched as he had in his last two starts, changing speeds and mixing in a very sharp breaking pitch, and he stymied Toronto. He struck out four and walked none, allowing six hits and two runs.
Alex Gonzalez hit a game-tying double in the third inning -- the bounce on the artificial surface misplayed by left fielder Kevin Bass -- but Moyer retired the next two hitters to escape further damage.
Moyer cut down seven hitters in a row, allowed a single in the fifth, and then a bases-empty homer in the sixth to Molitor, which drew the Blue Jays to within 4-2. Moyer retired the last seven hitters he faced, before Regan came out to ask for the ball and send him on his way.
"He's stepped in at a time when we really needed him," Regan said.
And he stepped out -- ran -- when he was needed back home in Baltimore.