If there was one factor heading into Game 2 of the World Series that seemed to be decisively against the Orioles, it was the starting pitching matchup.
The Dodgers gave the ball to Sandy Koufax, the game’s best pitcher and the winner of two of the last three National League Cy Young Awards — it might be three out of the last four when this year is over — and an ace who has been at his most dominant in World Series play.
The Orioles, meanwhile, went with Jim Palmer, a 20-year-old with ample talent, evidenced by his record this season, but no experience to speak of on a stage like the one the World Series offers.
This was supposed to be an advantage for Los Angeles. But like we see in the movies shot just down the road in Hollywood, this script took a turn.
It was Palmer shining brightest while throwing a four-hit shutout, and it was the Orioles winning their second straight game to open this World Series, this time by a 6-0 score to send them back to Memorial Stadium with a 2-0 lead and needing only two wins in front of their home fans to win their first Fall Classic.
Koufax allowed only one earned run in six innings, but he was hurt by poor defense; Los Angeles center fielder Willie Davis made three errors that played a key role in the Orioles scoring three unearned runs in the fifth inning, and the Dodgers committed six errors altogether.
Koufax, who set a National League lefty record with 27 wins while also compiling a 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts, started as expected, allowing only a Luis Aparicio infield single through the first four innings, but he was matched inning for inning by Palmer, who likewise allowed one hit while striking out three through the first four frames.
In the fifth, Los Angeles’s defense behind Koufax began to crumble. Boog Powell singled, but after Davey Johnson popped up a bunt, Paul Blair lofted a fly ball to center field. It seemed to be a routine play, but Davis lost the ball in the sun and had it hit off of his glove and fall for a two-base error, putting runners at second and third.
Catcher Andy Etchebarren followed with another fly ball to center, and again, Davis wasn’t able to make the play. He dropped the shallow fly, and made his third error in two plays when he fired high to third trying to throw out Blair, allowing the speedy Oriole outfielder to also come home and make it 2-0. Palmer struck out, but Aparicio ripped a double down the third base line to score Etchebarren and make it 3-0.
Baltimore added to its lead in the sixth when Triple Crown winner Frank Robinson led off with a fly to deep right-center field that the beleaguered Davis and right fielder Ron Fairly let fall between them for a triple. Koufax retired Brooks Robinson, but Powell stroked a single to right center to score Frank Robinson and make it 4-0.
In the eighth, the Orioles put the game all but out of reach. Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson led off with a walk and single, respectively, and after Powell bunted the two runners up, Johnson came to the plate. The Baltimore second baseman rapped a comebacker off Dodger pitcher Ron Perranoski’s leg, scoring Frank Robinson, and when Perranoski scrambled to the ball and threw wildly to first, Brooks Robinson came around to make it 6-0.
It was more than enough cushion for Palmer, who won 15 games this season while putting together a 3.46 ERA in only his second full season. Palmer worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second but was otherwise in cruise control, permitting only two hits over the next five innings.
In the eighth, pinch hitter Tommy Davis led off with a single and moved to second two batters later on a wild pitch, but Palmer got Jim Gilliam to pop up and then Willie Davis to fly to center to end the threat with the Dodgers still looking to get on the board.
In the ninth, Palmer issued a one-out walk to Jim Lefebvre but retired Lou Johnson and John Roseboro to end the game.
Overall, Palmer allowed four hits in the nine innings while walking three and striking out six. Koufax, who had pitched 23 straight scoreless innings in the World Series before starting the fifth, allowed six hits in six innings while walking a pair and striking out two.
Aparicio, Powell and Johnson all had a pair of hits for the Orioles, who have now held the Dodgers to two runs over the first two games.
Baltimore, the underdog coming into the series, now has a great chance to put a stranglehold on the Series in front of its home fans, but it remains to be seen if the O’s will continue to get brilliant pitching against the tested Dodger lineup. Wally Bunker is expected to start Game 3, and Game 1 starter Dave McNally will likely get the call in Game 4.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for October 6, 1966 (World Series Game 2)?
This poll is closed
Jim Palmer (9 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 6 Ks)
Boog Powell (2-for-3, RBI, R)
Luis Aparicio (2-for-5, RBI, 2B)
Frank Robinson (1-for-3, 3B, 2 R)