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Retro Orioles recap: Orioles open World Series with 5-2 win over Dodgers

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Frank Robinson put the Birds up early, and Moe Drabowsky was dominant in relief.

Baltimore Orioles Moe Drabowsky, 1966 World Series SetNumber: X11946

This game took place on October 5, 1966. It is being recapped today as part of Camden Chat’s retro recap series while MLB is on hold due to the lockout.

For the first time since the franchise moved to Baltimore, the Orioles had won the pennant and had a shot at a World Series title. But the team in their way were the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers, with their star-studded pitching staff. It would be no easy task.

Dodger Stadium was the venue for Game 1. Don Drysdale headed to the bump for the defending World Series champions. The year prior, Drysdale had taken on the exact same task in place of Sandy Koufax, who was unable to pitch due to that game taking place on Yom Kippur. The reason for Drysdale pitching over Koufax in 1966, however, was that he was better rested. Both pitchers appeared in a double header just three days earlier, but where Koufax threw nine innings, Drysdale tossed just two.

Whatever the reason, it did not work out for the Dodgers. The upstart Orioles wasted no time in jumping on Drysdale. Russ Snyder worked a one-out walk to get traffic on the bases ahead of Frank Robinson, the AL Triple Crown winner and that season’s MVP. Frank launched a Drysdale offering deep into left field about five or six rows beyond the reach of Tommy Davis to give the visiting O’s a 2-0 lead. Not to be outdone, Brooks Robinson smacked his own homer just moments later, this one traveling a few feet farther, to extend the lead to three runs.

Dave McNally started on the mound for the Orioles. The 24-year-old had just finished his first 200+ inning season, but this would be the first postseason action of his career. He issued a lead-off walk to Maury Wills, who immediately stole second base. Wills had led the league in swipes in each of the previous six seasons. But it wouldn’t hurt the O’s as McNally retired three in a row to escape the frame unscathed.

The Orioles offense got right back to work against Drysdale. Andy Etchebarren reached base on balls to open the second inning. He moved up a base on McNally’s sacrifice bunt and would go on to score when Snyder sliced a single into left field.

Of course, the Dodgers wouldn’t go down without a fight. Jim Lefebvre got the home team on the board to begin their half of the second with a 400-foot bomb to left-center field off of McNally. It looked like they might get more as a double by Wes Parker and walk for Jim Gilliam followed, but the southpaw McNally would settle down to get the next three Dodgers, including Dick Stuart, who had pinch hit for Drysdale.

It would be tough sledding for Baltimore against the Los Angeles bullpen. They went down in order in the third inning and struggled to do much for the rest of the day.

McNally returned to the mound to begin the bottom of the third inning, but he wouldn’t make it out. The lefty issued three consecutive one-out walks to load the bases for Parker. That forced Orioles manager Hank Bauer from the dugout to bring in fireman Moe Drabowsky. It proved a wise move. The righty largely extinguished the Dodgers offense. He did walk in one run (charged to McNally) but recorded the final two outs to avoid disaster. He would be dominant from there.

The Orioles scored their final run of the day in the fourth inning. Davey Johnson led off with a double and moved to third on an Etchebarren ground out. Drabowsky followed with a walk, and it was Luis Aparicio that got the RBI with a fielder’s choice to shortstop, scoring Johnson.

That concluded most of the offense for the game. Drabowsky struck out six straight Dodgers in the fourth and fifth innings, and he wouldn’t allow a runner beyond second base for the remainder of the day. All in, he tossed 6.2 innings without allowing an earned run of his own to score, striking out 11 batters in the process. To their credit, Dodger relievers Bob Miller and Ron Perranoski combined to keep the Orioles from scoring again in the game’s final five innings.

It was a crucial win for the Orioles. They had “slayed” one of Los Angeles’ two big hurlers and nabbed a victory on the road. Next up was a Game 2 matchup between three-time Cy Young winner Sandy Koufax and 20-year-old wunderkind Jim Palmer. If the O’s could somehow pull out a win there, the series could be all but over.

Poll

Who was the Most Birdland Player for October 5, 1966 (World Series Game 1)?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Frank Robinson (2-for-5, 2-run homer)
    (11 votes)
  • 90%
    Moe Drabowsky (W, 6.2 scoreless IP, 11 SO in relief)
    (104 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now