Bobby Murcer of NEW YORK read the orders of the day to the Corps of Cadets before an exhibition at West Point. When he came to thermal order, which read "Beat the Yankees," he substituted "Beat the Cadets." But the text summarized New York's week. The Yankees did beat Army, yet they could manage only one win that counted, over Oakland. When MINNESOTA came to town, Murcer himself cost the Yanks a game by turning around twice on a drive by Harmon Killebrew. It fell behind him for a triple, scoring two Twins. BALTIMORE was still counting on a record fourth straight 100-win season, despite eight games lost to the strike, when everything fell apart. The Orioles completed a road trip against that murderer's row, Cleveland and Kansas City, with a 1-4 record. Manager Earl Weaver, who had implied that his club was all but unbeatable, covered his retreat with a morning workout after a 3:30 a.m. arrival in Baltimore. Then the Orioles beat the Angels 12-2, equaling their run total on the road. DETROIT snapped Texas' four-game and Chicago's seven-game winning streaks, fashioning a four-game string of its own and moving into first. Tiger Manager Billy Martin found a starting pitcher in Tom Timmerman, who allowed just five hits in two starts. Overweight Mickey Lolich knew the difference between winning and losing. "If I'm winning, I'm roly-poly or chubhy. If I'm losing, I'm fat or slobby." He was winning, and a Detroit paper called him an "ample ace." CLEVELAND Manager Ken Aspromonte called his team's three-game losing string a "test of character," after which Milt Wilcox beat Kansas City on four hits. HOSTON still had not hit a home run as the bats of sluggers Tommy Harper (.156), Rico Petrocelli (.147) and Carl Yastrzemski (.121) swished aimlessly. But last-place MILWAUKEE had the three worst hitters in Rick Auerbach (.063), George Scott (.065) and Dave May (.067).
DET 7-3 BALT 7-5 CLEV 5-6 NY 3-7 BOST 3-7 MIL 2-7
Some strange things were happening in Arlington Stadium. Manager Ted Williams found the glare of the lights too bright. One night the organist took sick, a recording wouldn't play, and the national anthem had to be canceled. And who could figure Center-fielder Joe Lovitto, who calmly blew bubbles despite a .130 batting average? But the real mystery was the tenant TEXAS club, unbeaten in four home games. All the victories were over CALIFORNIA. Could the Rangers beat any other team? The Tigers came to town and swept two. Cynics chuckled. Ah, but then Boston arrived and lost 9-6, 7-6. "And that crowd enthusiasm is something else," said Williams. "Really good. We are getting those bleacher fans worked up. That's a good sign." They gave Ted Ford a standing ovation when he socked a three-run homer in the first game and Catcher Ken Suarez one when he drove home the winning run in the ninth to take the second. CHICAGO'S Wilbur Wood had allowed one run in 36 innings and stalled twice with only two days' rest. With five starts in 12 games, he was threatening the league record of 51 set by Jack Chesbro of the Yankees in 1904. His hopes for 30 wins, however, were set backward when the Tigers knocked out the knuckleballer after 2‚Öî innings. Rollie Fingers had a win and a save, and Ken Holtzman beat the Brewers 2-1 on live hits as OAKLAND'S pitching held up. Manager Dick Williams held up too, in a manner of speaking. While he slept in a New York hotel room, a burglar entered and took Williams' credit cards. Williams spent the day defusing them. Then the Yankees spent the evening bombing Denny McLain. KANSAS CITY lost six in a row without Shortstop Fred Patek, but when the majors' smallest (5'4") player returned after a groin injury, he hit .400 and the Royals took three straight. The only team in the division with a losing record for the week was California, which needed Pitcher Clyde Wright's two-run double to beat Milwaukee 4-1. The supposedly weak West Division was 38-28 for the season, and the "strong" East 27-35.
MINN 7-2 OAK 7-3 CHI 7-5 TEX 7-5 KC 6-7 CAL 4-8
New York won seven games in a row, prompting immediate if premature comparisons with the 1969 championship team. "This is the best start I've ever had and the best Met team of all," said Pitcher Tom Seaver, who had allowed but one run in 24 innings. There was unexpected power as Manager Yogi Berra stayed with the same lineup for six games. Jim Fregosi and Tommie Agee each hit two homers, and Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones and Jerry Grote one apiece. For once there was pitching depth, too, as rookie Jon Matlack won twice and another rookie, Buzz Capra, once. The streak ended when Jerry Koosman gave up five first-inning hits, including two homers, to the Dodgers, ST. LOUIS sent Scipio Spinks against unbeaten MONTREAL. Spinks went the distance and won 6-1 with a five-hitter. The Expos, however, won three of six to tie the Mets for first. Jim Fairey won his third game with his third hit, and Mike Marshall got his second win and second save. PHILADELPHIA'S Steve Carlton one-hit the Giants to add Juan Marichal to his list of slain Goliaths. He had also bested Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins this year. As the Phillies won four of six, Manager Frank Lucchesi wondered, "What is this, April? It feels more like late August and I'm fighting for the pennant." PITTSBURGH needed a 13th-inning home run by Richie Hebner to get its only win. No Pirate pitcher had yet finished a game, and the fielding and base running were shoddy. Leo Durocher returned from his sickbed to manage the Cubs, but CHICAGO lost five games by a run apiece. It was enough to make Leo sick again.
MONT 8-3 NY 8-3 PHIL 7-5 PITT 5-7 ST. L 5-7 CHI 3-10
San Diego wasn't playing that badly—4-7, with three one-run losses—but when a losing team keeps losing something has to go. Oh, there were tears in Club President Buzzie Bavasi's eyes when he fired Manager Preston Gomez, but business is business. "It was easier to let Preston go than get rid of 25 players," Bavasi explained. Don Zimmer, who played for the old Mets, took the job and was victimized by the new Mets. By one run, of course. Next to leave San Diego may be major league baseball. Now that Candlestick Park is fully encircled, the airlift is carrying balls to left field instead of right. This worked out fine for SAN FRANCISCO'S Dave Kingman, who had six homers, but the Giant pitchers lost five of six games, giving up over six runs per contest. The relief pitching, including 1971 sensation Jerry Johnson, was especially spotty. The Cardinals broke Houston's nine-game streak and Atlanta's three straight, but both teams moved closer to the lead. The Braves, powered by Hank Aaron's three homers and Rico Carty's league-leading .464 hitting, overcame their pitching for a change. The Astros' Jim Ray, largely unnoticed despite his 2.11 ERA last year, won twice and saved once. Weak-hitting Maury Wills was benched for one of the few times in his 14-year career, but two homers by Willie Crawford and Tommy John's complete game kept the Dodgers on top. CINCINNATI'S Joe Morgan stole second and third and scored on Ted Uhlaender's single to beat Pittsburgh. "I can steal anytime I want to," said Morgan.
A 10-4 HOUS 9-4 ATL 6-8 CIN 5-7 SD 5-9 SF 5-9