It's a breakout week for the Orioles, who return from a road trip at .500 but who seize first place soon after. They win three of four from the Cleveland Indians, then two of three from the Texas Rangers. At 8-5, they lead the AL East by 1 1/2 games, a rousing April for the notoriously slow-starting Orioles.
Pitching leads the way. In five victories this week, the staff allows just six runs total. In a 2-0 shutout of the Indians, Jim Palmer, 37, wins No. 264 with bullpen help from Storm Davis and Tippy Martinez. Then Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor win back-to-back complete games, 6-1 and 4-1, over Cleveland.
In a 4-2 defeat of the Rangers, Sammy Stewart allows one hit in four innings of relief on a bitter-cold day marked by snow showers and a wind chill factor of 6 degrees. A home run by John Lowenstein in the eighth wins it.
"There wasn't anyone around to greet me at home plate," Brother Lo says of his celebratory trot. "Everybody was just too cold."
The downside? Starter Dennis Martinez who, in two losses, surrenders 11 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Long an Orioles mainstay, he's off to the worst full season (7-16) of his 23-year career.