The Orioles bottom out Aug. 12, losing their seventh straight, 2-1, to the Chicago White Sox. They’ve hit .204 during the swoon, with 31 strikeouts in the past three games. His ire apparent, manager Joe Altobelli is ejected from the game, which drops his team into third place for the first time since May.
No Orioles pennant-winning team in the past ever lost more than six consecutive games, and this team has twice dropped seven in a row. Now, at a pivotal juncture, they turn to a rookie pitcher, Bill Swaggerty, just up from Triple-A Rochester. Swaggerty obliges, allowing just two earned runs in six innings in the Orioles’ 5-2 win over the White Sox in his big league debut. His jitters left fast.
“I learned these fellows put their pants on the same way I do,” Swaggerty says afterward.
The spell is broken. The Orioles win three straight and four of five to creep within one-half game of the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Moreover, Mike Flanagan, recovered from a knee injury, defeats the Texas Rangers, 4-2, for his first win since May 11. And reliever Tim Stoddard, having stewed all season about not being called upon frequently enough, comes up big in a 2-1 victory over the White Sox. Summoned in the ninth inning, with the bases loaded and no outs, the big right-hander strikes out two hitters and gets the third, Carlton Fisk, to ground out.