Good night, Dick was the message flashed on the Oakland scoreboard while the A's were beating the Angels and former Oakland skipper, Dick Williams. "It's the most bush thing I've ever seen," said Dick Green of the A's. Other A's threatened to walk off the field if Owner Charlie Finley repeated the message. He did—a GOOD NIGHT, BILLY BOY aimed at Texas Manager Billy Martin. However, none of the A's left that game, which Jim Hunter won 3-0 for his 22nd victory. But Finley's communications may have ignited the opposition, for Williams and the Angels retaliated by defeating the A's 5-2 and the Rangers tripped them 5-4 and 8-2.
While the A's split eight games, Texas, 6-2, leapfrogged into second place as Ferguson Jenkins became a 20-game winner for the seventh time, shutting out Cleveland 2-0 and Minnesota 1-0 for Nos. 20 and 21. In a 43-inning stretch he yielded three earned runs.
When Kansas City opened a 13-game home stand two weeks ago Manager Jack McKeon was optimistic. But things have gone awry: the Royals dropped 10 of their next 12 games and McKeon has had to stop chewing tobacco because of dental problems.
The White Sox' Wilbur Wood also won No. 20, although he gave up 13 hits in defeating Kansas City 6-4, and Minnesota hit eight homers while winning four of seven.
OAK 80-60 TEX 74-67 KC 70-68 CHI 69-71 MINN 68-71 CAL 55-85
The snarl at the top of the division was compounded of timely hits, dazzling pitching, a misunderstanding and an understanding. The Yankees' surge into the lead was partly attributable to a hashup of a statement made last month by Reggie Jackson of the A's. Seems they thought he insinuated that the Yankees were losers who did not know how to win. What Jackson actually said was, "Before we won the World Series in 1972 we didn't know what it took to win, either." Said New York's Lou Piniella: "I'm not sure what he said, but it got us moving." The Yankees, 6-2, began with an 18-6 romp over Chicago and closed with a 1-0 win over Detroit.
Several weeks ago Oriole players met at the home of Outfielder Paul Blair and apparently came to an understanding that ironed out internal friction. More than anything, though, their 8-0 week and 10-game winning streak were built around superb pitching. Five shutouts in a row—two by Mike Cuellar and one each by Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Ross Grimsley—set a league record. And their 54 consecutive scoreless innings surpassed the old league mark by seven before Charlie Spikes of the Indians homered in the ninth against Grimsley. In their last seven games the Orioles yielded just 29 hits.
"Seems like we were seven games ahead less than an hour ago," said Tommy Harper of Boston, 1-7, which fell into a second-place tie with Baltimore, a game out of first. After the Sox' losing streak reached eight games Manager Darrell Johnson had music piped into the clubhouse, perhaps to lighten the funereal mood. The next day they beat the Brewers in 10 innings.
Milwaukee, 5-3, briefly revived its pennant hopes. Second Baseman Pedro Garcia came through with a last-out, game-saving fielding play to thwart the Yankees 3-2 and Gorman Thomas, fresh up from the Pacific Coast League, where he hit 51 homers, drove in two runs to edge the Red Sox 4-3.
"We clutch up," was Manager Ken Aspromonte's bitter appraisal of his Indians, who lost six of eight. John Miller of the Tigers tied the league record for relief wins (16).
NY 74-64 BALT 73-65 BOS 73-65 CLEV 67-70 MIL 67-73 DET 64-75
"Somebody is gonna scramble some eggs," said the Cardinals' Lou Brock of the continuing struggle for first place. But Pittsburgh maintained its 1½-game lead over St. Louis as both had sunny-side-up 6-1 records. Late-inning, game-winning hits by Brock and Jim Dwyer, three homers by Reggie Smith and two wins by Bob Gibson kept the Cardinals aloft. And Brock stole eight bases to reach 101, four short of a new record.
Pittsburgh's opponents were in a quandary: they needed runs, but when they got a few they awakened the Pirate offense, which scored many. Five times the Pirates came from behind to win. Willie Stargell batted .444 (his average since July 15 is .388), Al Oliver .379 and Richie Zisk had 10 RBIs. Even Pitcher Jim Rooker joined the barrage. "I don't want to sound like a pop-off, but all you hear around here is Kenny Brett," he said. "I think I can hit as well as him." After going 3 for 4, Rooker was hitting .329 for the year, 43 points higher than Brett.
No one was more disconsolate about the vigorous Pirate offense than the Phillies, losers of three straight in Pittsburgh. "They take the joy out of pitching," said Wayne Twitchell, who was tagged for seven runs in 4‚Öî innings. Steve Carlton had a 3-1 lead over the Pirates, then had the ground crew work for 16 minutes fixing the mound to his liking—and lost 7-4. But joy in hitting continued for Philadelphia's Dave Cash, who batted .400 while the Phillies split eight games.
Rusty Staub of the Mets zonked the Braves 6-5 with a two-run single in the eighth, Tug McGraw pitched his first-ever shutout against them the next day and the New Yorkers sashayed into fourth place by sweeping three games from the Cubs. That ran the Mets' winning streak to seven before they lost twice to the Cardinals.
Montreal, 1-6, blew early leads in four games; the only time an Expo margin held up was when Mike Torrez beat Cincinnati 2-1. Chicago ended a five-game losing string when Bill Bonham pitched an improbable 10-hit shutout against Philadelphia.
PITT 75-63 ST. L 74-65 PHIL 68-71 NY 63-73 MONT 61-75 CHI 56-80
It was a frenetic week for Cincinnati fans. The city council passed a resolution expressing "shock and dismay" at an "atrocious call" in which Joe Morgan was ruled out at the plate in a 4-3 loss to Houston. Then came the long-awaited meeting with the Dodgers at home, only to have Steve Garvey's three-run homer stand up for a 3-1 LA victory in the opener. Throttling the Red batters in that one were Don Sutton and the omnipresent Mike Marshall, who had his 20th save as the Dodgers moved 3½ games in front. But in the second game the Reds overcame a 5-0 deficit, winning 7-5 on a two-run homer by Morgan. Moments earlier Morgan's bad ankle had buckled, but he would not leave the field. So the Reds, 4-3, gained a game on the Dodgers, who were 3-4.
For the second time in five seasons, Houston Manager Preston Gomez pinch-hit for a pitcher who had thrown eight innings of no-hit ball. In 1970, while with San Diego, he yanked Clay Kirby. And again it was to no avail: the pinch batter did not get a hit, the reliever gave up a ninth-inning hit, and the Astros lost 2-1 to the Reds. Don Wilson, the pitcher Gomez removed, had no quarrel with his manager's decision.
Barely two hours after arriving from Phoenix, John Montefusco of the Giants embarked on one of the most unusual of all major league debuts. He relieved in the first with none out, the bases full and the Dodgers ahead 3-0. Despite being hit by a batted ball, falling down on a fielding play and getting ankle cramps, Montefusco won 9-5. He pitched nine innings, gave up six hits, struck out seven. Montefusco, who did not bat all year because of the Pacific Coast League's DH rule, walked on four pitches his first time up and in his first official at bat slugged a two-run homer.
Atlanta's pennant hopes were all but ended by three shutout losses. San Diego, which had lost 10 straight and 34 of 42, finally beat Houston 8-4.
LA 85-52 CIN 84-55 ATL 77-63 HOUS 70-68 SF 64-75 SD 51-89