“Our strength,” the slugging first baseman says, “is someone else doing it every day.”
A carousel of unsung heroes leads the Orioles this week to a three-game sweep in Philadelphia, giving Baltimore its third world championship, four games to one, over the Phillies.
In a 3-2 victory, pinch-hitter Benny Ayala (a .221 hitter in the regular season) rips an RBI single off Steve Carlton, a 300-game winner, then races home with the deciding run.
The next day, second baseman Rich Dauer (.235) gets three hits and knocks in three runs, including the team’s last one, in a 5-4 victory.
Then it’s Rick Dempsey’s turn as the light-hitting catcher (.231) hits a home run and double while scoring twice in the 5-0 finale at Veterans Stadium. Dempsey finishes the Fall Classic batting .385 with five extra-base hits, a record for a five-game Series.
“In 11 years, I’ve never been hot,” Dempsey says upon being named Most Valuable Player.
The shutout goes to Scott McGregor, the Orioles’ winningest pitcher (18-7) this year, and shrinks the team’s postseason ERA to 1.10. The Phillies hit .195 off Baltimore’s pitchers; slugger Mike Schmidt goes a meek 1-for-20.
It’s a cathartic victory for the 15 Orioles who took part in the 1979 World Series, when the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to take the last three games and win it all.