During a three-inning span against the Red Sox, the Orioles demonstrated numerous tricks they could do with a baseball, like dropping it, letting it bounce off their gloves and throwing it away. In the doing they perpetrated six errors, a club record. And when Jim Palmer lost to the Indians 2-0, both runs were unearned. Enough? No. In 26 at bats in three games against Cleveland, neither Al Bumbry nor Rich Coggins got on base. All told, the Orioles made 11 errors, dropped from third place to last, and then rebounded to third. There had to be an explanation. Palmer came up with it: "For the last couple of weeks on television they've been running a Three Stooges film festival on the late show. Our guys must have been staying up and watching." Even so, the Orioles managed to break even, the most impressive win being Ross Grimsley's 12-inning 1-0 shutout of the Indians.
Johnny Briggs got his ninth homer, Jim Slaton won for the fifth time and the Brewers moved to the top of the East by taking four of their first six games. But they squandered scoring opportunities against the Red Sox, lost 5-3 and slipped to second place.
Advancing into first was Boston, winner of all five of its games, as Manager Darrell Johnson kept juggling the lineup. "Competition is the healthiest thing imaginable on a ball club," said Johnson earnestly. Pitcher Dick Drago won twice, and the offense went on a tear. Boston batters, who began the week with a .250 average, 10th in the league, hit .383 and produced 42 runs. Leading the assault were Bernie Carbo (.429, seven RBIs) and Cecil Cooper (.600), who has taken over at first base and made it possible for Carl Yastrzemski to move back to left field. But the medical report on Doug Griffin, who was beaned on April 30, was not good. Tests indicated "abnormal brain waves" and Griffin will be out at least another three weeks.
John Hiller and a usually reliable defense suddenly turned vulnerable as Ralph Houk's Detroit Tigers (page 22), who began the week in first, dropped six of seven games and tumbled to fifth. Twice in two days Hiller lost in relief, and the fielders were guilty of a total of 15 misplays. Most grievous was a 7-3 loss to the Brewers in which the Tigers made three errors and allowed five stolen bases. That Willie Horton hit three homers to up his total to 11 was of little avail.
New York's Graig Nettles, who slugged 11 home runs in April, had yet to hit one in May and was batting .176 for the month. It was a 1-4 week for the Yankees, who suffered their 16th and 17th defeats in their last 18 games in Boston.
In Cleveland 49,419 fans turned out for Jacket Day, and saw their Indians take the first game of a doubleheader from the Tigers 2-1 behind Gaylord Perry's two-hitter and the nightcap 9-4. Jack Brohamer won the opener with a 360-foot homer and put the Indians ahead for keeps in the second with an eight-foot suicide squeeze bunt. Rounding out the 4-2 week were a three-hit, 2-0 win over Baltimore by Perry—his seventh straight win—and a 3-1 victory over Detroit by Fritz Peterson.
BOS 22-19 MIL 20-18 BALT 20-19 CLEV 21-20 DET 19-21 NY 20-24
It was a week filled with petty squabbling and minor skirmishes. Oakland Owner Charlie Finley warned Manager Alvin Dark to "get your rear in gear or you'll find yourself gone," and Ken Holtzman groused when Dark yanked him from a game in which he was leading. But then came minor miracles: love, peace, kind words. The miracle worker was Reggie Jackson, whose ailing leg relegated him to designated hitter. In a 7-4 win over the Twins, Jackson homered and had a three-run double, after which Joe Rudi tripled across two runs in the ninth to snap a tic. Said Rudi: "Super [Jackson's nickname] is unbelievable. He's the best player in the league." Jackson in turn spoke up on Rudi's behalf, labeling him as "underrated and underpaid...the nicest guy in baseball and the best leftfielder in the league."
Dick Lange of the Angels was not about to let the A's bask in harmony. After beating them 4-3 he commented on the feud between the two clubs, saying, "They started it last year when they referred to us as a bunch of Triple A players." Nolan Ryan walked 12 in two games, but won both.
There was also fussing in K.C. John Mayberry of the Royals took exception when Chicago's Stan Bahnsen clipped him with a pitch and retaliated by taking a few pokes at him on the mound. All of which was suitable advertising for a record that just came out: Big Bud John Mayberry.
Nor was all quiet in Chicago. White Sox writers referred to Dick Allen as a "man-child" and said he "has lost his zest for the game." Manager Chuck Tanner sternly told one scribe, "Allen saved this franchise." What the Sox needed most was someone to save their sagging pitching staff, as Chicago dropped three of five.
Having lost five times in a row to the A's, Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici resorted to "drastic" action. He called in a motivationalist who told the Twins they could achieve whatever they thought they could. The Twins promptly lost once again to the A's 7-4. But then along came Bert Blyleven with a new fastball that tails down, and the Twins beat the Rangers 9-0. That made it a 2-3 week for Texas, which got excellent relief work from Jackie Brown in an 8-3 win at K.C. and robust hitting from Jeff Burroughs, who batted .474 and drove in nine runs.
OAK 23-19 CHI 20-18 CAL 21-22 KC 20-21 TEX 20-22 MINN 17-20
"We finally conquered never-never land," said Manager Eddie Mathews after his Braves concluded their most fruitful road trip (9-2) in many moons. With Pitcher Ron Reed hurt, Mathews reached out for Buzz Capra, and Capra was an eye-opener, beating the Dodgers 4-2 and the Astros 3-0, and allowing just eight hits. Ralph Garr had 11 hits in 19 at bats, including two homers in one game. He also took over the league batting lead (.378), lending substance to his description of himself as "amazing."
Although the Padres were 3-4, Manager John McNamara puffed out his chest because he felt they had exhibited "pride and strength of character" by topping the Giants 10-7 in 12 innings and overhauling the Reds 5-4 in 13 innings. It also was beneficial that Willie McCovey hit a grand slam in the first victory, the 15th of his career, to tie Henry Aaron for the league record.
Cincinnati lost three straight in Los Angeles where Pete Rose, who admitted he was bothered by some vicious fan heckling, went 0 for 13. With his Reds trailing the Dodgers by nine games, Sparky Anderson said, "We've got to dig ourselves out." The first shovelful of progress was made when the Reds dumped the Padres 6-3. As for Rose, he finally ended his worst-ever slump (0 for 20) with two hits.
When Houston's Cliff Johnson homered to tie the Padres at 6-all in the sixth, Astro officials were so ecstatic over the prospect of ending a nine-game losing streak that free beer was offered to the fans. During the final three innings the 7,373 spectators quaffed 4,500 brews. The Padres quaffed last, winning 8-6. The Astros finally won the next night, as Tom Griffin beat the Padres 5-4.
A dozen or so Dodgers have been indulging in yoga to loosen their muscles, the better to flex them intimidatingly on the field. But after winning three of four games and leading the Giants 6-2 in the next, yoga lost some of its magic. The Dodgers dropped that tussle 7-6 and were defeated 9-7 by the Giants the following day. A prime beneficiary of Candlestick Park's bewitching breezes was Dave Kingman, who got two windblown hits, one a homer, in the 7-6 San Francisco win. Several Dodgers criticized Candlestick, Willie Crawford calling it "a chamber of horrors" and Bill Buckner saying, "They'd be doing everyone a favor if they bombed this place." Which caused a Giant official to comment, "If the Dodgers feel that way coming in, we've got them in the right frame of mind." Wind alone did not earn a 4-3 week for the Giants. Also instrumental were Mike Caldwell (he beat the Padres 8-2 for his seventh win), Elias Sosa (he got his fifth relief victory without a loss), Ron Bryant (last year's 24-game winner who finally pitched his first victory) and Pitching Coach Don McMahon, 44, who unretired briefly and hurled two scoreless innings of relief. Providing offensive support were Ed Goodson (.500), Chris Speier (.346) and Bobby Bonds (.360, nine runs scored, four stolen bases).
LA 31-13 SF 25-21 CIN 21-19 ATL 23-21 HOUS 22-24 SD 18-30
It was the bottom of the ninth and Steve Carlton of the Phillies was trying to protect a 2-1 lead against the Cardinals, who had two men on and none out. Catastrophe, no stranger to sporting Philadelphia, seemed imminent. But then Third Baseman Mike Schmidt started a snappy double play, Carlton fanned the next batter—and the Phillies were in first place. Other giddy deeds by the Phillies: a three-run eighth inning that beat the Pirates 3-2; two-hit pitching from Ron Schueler and seven runs of Philadelphia's own on only six hits to halt the Cardinals 7-1; a 4-2 win over St. Louis behind Pitcher Ed Farmer, recently claimed on waivers; the snipping of Lou Brock's string of successful base thefts at 28 when Catcher Bob Boone threw him out.
Before each game Cardinal Coach George Kissell inscribes an inspirational verse on a baseball for the starting pitcher. There was neither rhyme nor reason to what his pitchers were doing on the mound, however, until Sonny Siebert O-de the Cubs 1-0.
Chicago lost that game by botching a rundown in the ninth, leaving home plate unguarded to let the lone run score. With the aid of batting tips from Instructor Lew Fonseca, Jerry Morales suddenly began slugging with unaccustomed vigor. He had three homers and 10 RBIs (six in a 9-6 win over the Mets) and he helped Burt Hooton beat New York 2-1 with a throw from left field that cut down a runner at home—on that occasion amply guarded.
"Winning Ways in a Spiritual Sense" was the theme of a Sunday chapel service in the Expo clubhouse. This was followed expeditiously by winning in a physical sense. Ernie McAnally stopped the Mets 5-0 and later stymied the Phillies 4-2. Also helping to build a 5-1 week was Willie Davis, who batted .458 and had seven RBIs.
A game in Montreal was delayed 56 minutes in the sixth inning because of fog. Although the poor visibility had transformed a fly ball by Pittsburgh's Al Oliver into a triple, the Pirates lost 5-4, which is no surprise; they have been playing in something of a fog all season. Still, Jerry Reuss won a pair of six-hitters, beating the Phillies 2-1 and the Mets 4-1.
An almost funereal atmosphere enveloped the Mets, who were mourning their pitching failures, particularly Tom Seaver's latest misadventure. He yielded six runs in five innings and gave up two homers to run his league-leading gopher-ball total to 12. Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack were also hit hard. The only Met victor in six games was George Stone, who had four RBIs as he stopped Chicago 10-5. Savoring his win, Stone said, "I know I'm fourth on this staff, and it doesn't bother me in the least."
PHIL 23-18 MONT 19-15 ST.L 21-19 NY 18-24 CHI 15-22 PITT 14-24