AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Luis Tiant, whose nearly flawless pitching gave the Red Sox their shot at the championship, is the soul of generosity. He credits at least nine, maybe 10, of his 15 victories to teammates. "Yaz," says he of the late-flowering Carl Yastrzemski, "has won five or six for me with homers [the last on Friday night] and Tommy Harper has won about four more." Yastrzemski, who did in fact have five game-winning hits in the past month, graciously accepted his teammate's plaudits, but cannot recall three of them.
As the Red Sox went down to the wire with the tenacious Detroit Tigers, the Orioles were dropped out of the race on Friday and the Yankees were done on Saturday. The normally unsentimental Baltimore manager, Earl Weaver, apologized to Oriole Owner Jerry Hoffberger for failing to win a fourth straight league title. "Skip," replied Hoffberger, "you're not as sorry as I am."
And Yankee Manager Ralph Houk may well have put his foot in his mouth when he commented in midweek, "Our toes are still wriggling." They stiffened up a couple of days later. The Tigers, driven ever forward by Manager Billy Martin, were still in the ball game—and even hitting. Cleveland and Milwaukee, meanwhile, were not so much spoilers as pigeons. The Brewers' Jim Lonborg surrendered six runs in two innings to the Tigers, a team whose number he had earlier. And there was talk in Cleveland of trading 23-game winner Gaylord Perry for a much-needed power hitter.
BOST 84-67 DET 83-69 NY 79-71 BALT 78-73 CLEV 69-83 MIL 62-90
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
"As soon as we win this thing," said Oakland A's Manager Dick Williams just before his team won the thing, "all you regulars will get a well-deserved rest." "Hey, you can't do that to me," said Sal Bando, who knocked in the winning runs in both ends of a doubleheader with Minnesota, "I'm just getting hot." But Bando was on the bench by Saturday. That's where blue Vida Blue may be in the playoffs and/or the World Series. With ace left-handed Reliever Darold Knowles out with an injured hand, Blue, a 24-game winner last year but a six-game winner this, may be shunted to the bullpen for the big ones.
The White Sox' Dick Allen was nowhere in sight, but this time it was not his fault. Manager Chuck Tanner simply gave him the rest of the season off after the A's clinched the division championship. Still, there was an Allen in the lineup—Dick's brother Hank, an infielder brought up in September.
The staggering Minnesota Twins were consistency personified during the week—six games played, six games lost, all by one run. And the Kansas City Royals were, alas, looking ahead toward the inevitable next year. Specifically, they were contemplating a next year for big John Mayberry, who is only 22 and who had an 11-for-24 week. He has batted in 100 runs in a losing season. The California Angels also have something to look forward to—another Nolan Ryan season. Ryan struck out 17 men while winning his 19th game. That made 319 strikeouts for the year, best in the major leagues. And the Texas Rangers may now look ahead to a year without Ted Williams as manager.
OAK 91-61 CHI 85-65 MINN 75-74 KC 75-76 CAL 73-78 TEX 52-99
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
The Pirates' Roberto Clemente got his 3,000th hit, a leadoff double in the fourth inning of a game with the Mets, and joined the immortals. But Clemente thought he should have been in that august company the night before when the official scorer ruled that his high bouncer over the mound led to an error by New York's Ken Boswell, not an infield single. "All my life," complained Clemente, "they [the scorers] have been stealing hits from me."
The Cubs' Billy Williams is still a few hits shy of 3,000 (he has 2,229), but he did have a shot at the league's triple crown. He led in hitting by a comfortable margin and trailed the Red's Johnny Bench by four home runs and one RBI.
On the day Clemente stroked No. 3,000, Lou Brock of the Cardinals hit his 2,000th against the Cubs, the same team, as fate would have it, that traded him away eight years ago. Montreal's Gene Mauch had his contract extended. "It's quite obvious that I'm pleased," said Mauch. "And it's quite obvious that we have a lot of work to do." Another team in the same fix, obviously, is the Phillies—except when it comes to Pitcher Steve Carlton, who managed to win 26 games for a last-place team. "He'll be our first $100,000 player," conceded General Manager Paul Owens.
PITT 95-57 CHI 83-68 NY 78-72 ST.L 74-79 MONT 68-82 PHIL 57-95
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Dental science is gambling that a tooth extraction will cure the pains—oral and armwise—of Cincinnati pitching star Gary Nolan in time for the playoffs with Pittsburgh. Manager Sparky Anderson is assuming as much, predicting that Nolan will pitch the third game. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone, the Reds' Clay Carroll set a major league record for the most saves by a relief pitcher in a single season. He has 36.
"I want a catcher who can call a good game, throw and stop the other team from running," said Houston's Leo Durocher, echoing a familiar managerial aspiration. But second-string Astro Catcher Larry Howard disagreed. "You keep reading in the papers that we need a left-handed relief pitcher and a catcher," said he wearily. "What they ought to do is concentrate on getting the left-handed relief pitcher and forget about the catcher. I think our catching is well taken care of."
The Atlanta Braves are also talking trade, but two who definitely are not on the block are Henry Aaron and young Dusty Baker. Trading Aaron would be like giving away Peachtree Street, and as for Baker, Manager Eddie Mathews says, "He has super tools. The best way I can help him is to stay away from him."
The Giants' Jim Barr is a forward thinker. "I am going to spring training thinking of myself as a starter all the way," he said. And with cause. At one point in this dismal San Francisco season, Barr retired 41 batters in a row over two games.
The San Diego Padres fired Pitching Coach Roger Craig and hired as his replacement Johnny Podres, who by the merest coincidence was Manager Don Zimmer's old roommate on the Dodgers.
CIN 92-59 HOUS 83-66 LA 83-69 ATL 70-81 SF 66-86 SD 57-92