The Orioles won 100 games behind the brilliant pitching of Scott McGregor (20-8) and Steve Stone (25-7), who went on to win the Cy Young, but finished 3 games behind the Yankees in the division. On the other side of the ball, Al Bumbry had 205 hits for the season and batted .318.
The 1981 season saw the Orioles finish one game behind Milwaukee for the best record in the AL East (59-46), but because of a strike-shortened season that was divided into two halves, the Orioles ended up finishing two games out of first in each half and missed the playoffs. Three starting pitchers - Cy Young winners Steve Stone, Mike Flanagan and Jim Palmer - missed significant time with injuries and combined to go only 20-21. Eddie Murray led the AL with 78 RBI and tied for the home run crown with 22, and Dennis Martinez tied for the league lead in wins with 14.
Rookie Cal Ripken Jr. made his presence known early on, going 3-5 with a homer on Opening Day. Eddie Murray made a bid for the MVP award hitting .316 with 32 HR and 110 RBI. Earl Weaver announced that this would be his final season at the helm of the O's. The Orioles had an up and down season but made a heroic final charge down the stretch that put them into a tie with Milwaukee Brewers on the final day of the regular season and it was a head-to-head matchup. Unfortunately, league MVP Robin Yount and the rest of the "Wallbangers" proved to be too much and the Birds finished one game back at 94-68.
Joe Altobelli became the new manager and took over an Orioles team on a mission. The mission looked to be derailed by several key injuries to players such as Jim Palmer, Mike Flanagan, Dan Ford, and Tippy Martinez, but the O's stayed the path and charged all the way to the World Series to face Pete Rose and the Philadelphia Phillies. It was MVP Rick Dempsey who led the Birds to the Championship, batting .385 and throwing out the speedy Joe Morgan twice, as the Orioles claimed their third title and avenged the heartbreaks of the previous four seasons.
The 1984 Orioles finished among the "also-rans" in the AL East at 85-77, only 4 games behind second-place Toronto but 19 games behind the runaway Detroit Tigers who won 104 games. Mike Boddicker lost his first three decisions but still was the AL's only 20-game winner and also led the league with a 2.79 ERA. Eddie Murray (.306-29-110) won his third straight Gold Glove at first base.
The 1985 season was marked by turnover, with the departure of longtime Orioles Al Bumbry, Ken Singleton, John Lowenstein and others. Following a five-game losing streak that left the club eight games out of first on June 12, the Orioles announced the return of Earl Weaver as manager, replacing Joe Altobelli. Under Weaver, the Orioles went 53-52 to finish the season in 4th place. They set a club record with 818 runs, with Cal Ripken (116) and Eddie Murray (11) finishing second and third in the league. Murray batted. 297, hit 31 homers and drove in 124 runs, second in the AL, and won his 5th straight (6th overall) Most Valuable Oriole Award.
The 1986 Orioles were in second place in the AL East at 59-47, just 2 ½ games out of first, through August 5. The next night, despite grand slams in the same inning by Jim Dwyer and Larry Sheets, the Orioles lost to Texas, starting a 14-42 finish that ended a streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons. It marked the only losing season in the managing career of Earl Weaver, who announced in September that he would not return for the 1987 season.
Longtime coach, scout and minor league skipper Cal Ripken Sr. took over the managing duties and became the first person to manage two sons, Bill and Cal Jr., in the majors. A 5-30 stretch from May 29 to July 5 doomed the Orioles to their first season of 90 or more losses since 1955. Between injuries and other roster moves, only eight players were with the team the entire season. The Orioles became the first team ever to both hit and allow 200 or more homers in a season.
On a night where 50,402 turned out to welcome the 1-23 Orioles back from a 1-11 road trip, Governor William Donald Schaefer announced that owner Edward Bennett Williams and the Maryland Stadium Authority had agreed upon a long-term lease for a new downtown ballpark to be built in time for the 1992 season. Williams, who was very ill, never attended another game after that and lost his battle with cancer on August 13, 1988. The season was a lost one as the Birds went 54-107, but the process of rebuilding had begun.
The Orioles new uniforms and new attitude were on display as the team improved by 32 1/2 games in the standings and spent nearly three months of the season in first place. '89 became known as the "Why Not?" season and Frank Robinson won American League Manager of the Year for his role in leading this young group into a pennant chase that ended on the next-to-last day of the season following consecutive 1-run losses to Toronto.