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Retro Orioles recap: Birds recapture pennant, will return to World Series

The Orioles completed the sweep of Minnesota behind a complete game from Jim Palmer, and will seek redemption in the 1970 World Series.

Baltimore Orioles Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

This game took place on October 3, 1970. It is being recapped today as part of Camden Chat’s retro recap series while MLB is on hold due to coronavirus.

Last season, the Orioles needed only three games to get past Minnesota and clinch the American League spot in the World Series. Faced with a rematch this season, Baltimore made quick work of the Twins once again.

After a pair of wins to begin the series in Minnesota, the Orioles returned home to Memorial Stadium and recaptured the pennant before 27,608 cheering fans in Baltimore. Jim Palmer went the distance, and Baltimore refused to relinquish an early lead in the 6-1 victory.

Baltimore’s offense established its dominance early and often in the series, with the club reaching double-digit run totals in decisive victories in the first two games. Clearly uninterested in drama, the bats made sure Palmer had plenty of cushion to work with Monday afternoon.

The Birds used small ball to get the party started right away. After a three-up, three-down frame by Palmer to begin the ball game, Don Buford led off with a single to center field. Paul Blair advanced Buford to second with a bunt down the third base line, and Buford moved up another 90 feet on a Frank Robinson pop fly to center field.

Cleanup hitter Boog Powell stepped in to face Minnesota starter Jim Kaat, and delivered the first run of the game with a single to right field. Baltimore continued to threaten with two outs, but a Brooks Robinson single and Davey Johnson walk were both erased when Andy Etchebarren lined out to center field. Still, the Birds were on the board.

After another scoreless frame, Palmer stepped up to bat with one out in the second. He popped a ball to center field that should have been caught, but an error by Jim Holt allowed the righty to hustle into second base. Buford followed with his second single in as many at bats, and Palmer scored to double the lead.

Palmer sent the Twins back to the dugout empty handed again in the third, and then the Birds broke it open. Brooks Robinson led off with a double to left, and Johnson followed with a single the opposite way. The two knocks were enough to chase Kaat from the ball game, as Minnesota turned to Bert Blyleven in a win-or-go-home game.

Blyleven appeared up to the task when Etchebarren quickly bounced to short, but catcher Paul Ratliff failed to handle the throw after Brooks broke home. The aggressive base running paid off, and Baltimore seized a three-run lead. Blyleven induced a similar ground ball to short for the first out of the inning, and appeared to have an easy opportunity to limit the damage.

Palmer entered the box with runners on the corners, but another Baltimore starter helped himself at the plate. Palmer laced a double to left that scored Johnson and pushed Belanger to third. The knock continued an impressive trend of Orioles pitchers performing at the dish. Mike Cuellar became the first pitcher to hit a grand slam in an American League championship series during game one, and Dave McNally finished 2-5 with a double and an RBI in the second contest.

Buford delivered once again with a sacrifice fly that plated Belanger, and Baltimore extended the lead to five. Another World Series shot inched closer, and the Orioles had no intentions of looking back.

The Twins scored their only run in the fifth inning with some two-out lightening. Cesar Tovar stretched out a triple, and Leo Cardenas brought him home with a single up the middle. Tony Oliva followed with another single to bring the tying run to the on deck circle, but Palmer sent Harmon Killebrew down looking to eliminate the threat.

Palmer retired the Twins in order in the seventh and eighth inning, and allowed just a single in the ninth before Rick Renick grounded out to end the game. Palmer allowed seven hits, walked three, but struck out 12 and allowed just the one run. The 20-game winner proved reliable once again, and kept the Twins at arms length throughout the contest.

Brooks Robinson led the way with three hits, while Buford and Johnson both added a pair. Buford drove in two, while Johnson, Palmer and Powell all brought a man home.

The Cincinnati Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates to clinch the National League pennant Monday, and the Birds will face the Big Red Machine for all the marbles. The series will begin October 10 in Cincinnati, which will provide each club enough time to reset its rotation.

Box score from Baseball Reference.


Who was the Most Birdland Player for October 5, 1970 (ALCS Game 3)?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Don Buford (2-for-4, two RBIs)
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Davey Johnson (2-for-4, HR)
    (0 votes)
  • 98%
    Jim Palmer (CG W, 12 Ks, RBI double)
    (68 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now