What's right with the red sox? asked a Boston Globe headline. Well, during a 5-1 week, almost everything. In need of an added starter, Manager Darrell Johnson called on Dick Pole, a fastballer from Trout Creek, Mich. who had been sitting idly in the bullpen. Pole baffled the White Sox 4-0 on three hits. Red Sox batters also did little wrong. After Boston overtook Chicago to win 7-6, Leftfielder Bernie Carbo said, "This had to be the most thrilling game of the season." What made it so thrilling was Boston scoring four times in the bottom of the ninth. During that uprising three pinch hitters in a row—Carbo, Tim McCarver and Cecil Cooper—hit safely. Rick Burleson applied the finishing touch with a two-out single. The Red Sox also beat the Twins 11-9 (Doug Griffin hitting his first home run in two years), 13-10 (although outhit 14-8, Boston got two home runs and six RBIs from Dwight Evans) and then won 3-1 behind Bill Lee's tight pitching. No one, though, was righter than Fred Lynn, who batted .417.
Vaulting from fourth place to second, the Yankees swept six in a row. In five games they had 10 or more hits, and they batted .303 and scored 37 runs during the week to lead the majors with a .269 season average and 4.8 runs per game. Bobby Bonds, who hit .385, bopped five homers and drove in 10 runs. He also set big-league records by hitting lead-off home runs Nos. 29 and 30. Bonds, who had been at. 197 after 32 games, brought his average up to .253, led the majors with 15 homers and tied for the league RBI lead with 41. Rudy May and Pat Dobson both earned their fifth and sixth victories.
For Cleveland, 3-3, the big stick was wielded by Manager Frank Robinson, whose two three-run homers sank Texas 7-5. "The team gets a bigger kick out of it than I do," he said. "I guess you might say we're opposites: I excite them and they excite me." They excited him most when they beat Kansas City 8-7, tying the score on rookie Rick Manning's triple in the ninth and winning on Buddy Bell's 11th-inning homer.
The Orioles' anemic offense—their .234 team batting average is the second lowest in either league—was at its worst as they split their first four games. During that period they hit .184, and all their runs in a 3-2 win over the Royals came on sacrifice flies. Then the Baltimore attack sprang to life for a 7-3 victory over Kansas City, the Orioles' highest run production in four weeks.
Detroit's Mickey Lolich, who does most things right-handed, gave further proof that he was right about being a left-handed pitcher. In raising his strikeout total to 2,586 Lolich moved past Warren Spahn into the No. 5 spot on the alltime list and supplanted him as the No. 1 lefty. During a 4-3 week for the Tigers, Lolich won twice, Lerrin LaGrow beat the A's 3-0 and Willie Horton hit two more homers.
Attendance in the majors is up almost 500,000 from last year, and nowhere in the AL has it climbed as much as in Milwaukee, where the Brewers are 160,000 fans ahead. But artistic success lagged behind. The Brewers wasted a 5-1 lead in the first game of a doubleheader with the Royals, losing it 13-6, and blew the second 11-5.
Milwaukee pitching, which had been superb early on, continued to wilt and the team's ERA, second best in the league at 3.10 on May 1, soared to 4.09, next to last. The Brewers, 2-5, bottomed out with a 13-4 loss to their Sacramento Solon farmhands as Ed Sprague was rocked for 10 runs and four consecutive home runs.
BOS 28-19 NY 27-24 DET 23-24
MIL 23-26 CLEV 22-27 BALT 21-28
"I don't think anybody can hit better than me," said Minnesota's Rod Carew. No one gave him any backchat, especially the Yankees, against whom he went nine for 10 and socked three homers. In one of the hottest sprees ever, Carew was 12 for 13 and raised his average to .425. He was finally slowed a bit in Boston, where he got only one hit in six at bats and was temporarily sidelined after being clipped on the elbow by a pick-off attempt. But even with Carew in fine form, nobody could lose like the Twins. They did so six straight times as their pitchers gave up 11 home runs and 45 runs. Most severely battered was Jim Hughes, who began the week with a 1.53 ERA and then was tagged for 17 hits and 13 runs in 8‚Öì innings.
Opposing teams have been overshifting against left-hand-hitting John Mayberry of the Royals, who started the week hitting .210. Mayberry went to Henry Aaron for advice. "The Man told me not to concern myself with the shift, not to worry about hitting to left." Mayberry reported. So he unconcernedly went 14 for 27, hit two homers, had nine RBIs and boosted his average to .255. Kansas City won its first three games, moving to the top in the West, then tumbled back to second by losing four in a row.
Elaborating on his belief that he would soon raise his average, Oakland's Reggie Jackson said, "Will the sun rise in the East?" The sun did its number, but Jackson was still set in the West with a .241 average as the A's lost four of six. Vida Blue was shelled twice and the A's made their first error in 89 innings. On the positive side, attendance was up over 70,000 and Oakland held on to first place, thanks to the Royals' slump.
With Nolan Ryan (page 32) at his fire-balling best, the Angels won five of six, but Texas struggled to win two of five. The Rangers got past the Orioles 3-2 in 12 innings as Jackie Brown pitched 4‚Öì innings of hitless relief. And they held off the Indians 5-4, again in 12 innings, on hits by Mike Hargrove and Lenny Randle.
AL batters continued to knock on Wood. Wilbur, the Chicago knuckleballer, was a two-time loser and was left with some dismal stats: a 2-10 record, 5.76 ERA and 122 hits allowed in 89‚Öì innings. Chicago's timeliest offensive weapon during a 2-5 week was a bases-loaded walk by means of which it edged the Tigers 3-2.
OAK 30-22 KC 30-24 CAL 27-27
TEX 25-26 MINN 23-25 CHI 22-29
A month ago, when Cincinnati trailed Los Angeles by four games, Sparky Anderson boldly predicted that his Reds would take first place on June 2. And that's exactly the way it happened. The Reds got seven RBIs from both Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench. They also got three five-hit, one-run wins, two by Jack Billingham, one by Don Gullett.
Los Angeles took two of three games in Montreal, Don Sutton becoming the majors' first 10-game winner with a 6-5 squeaker and Andy Messersmith coming out on top 3-0. Mike Marshall, pitching for the first time since injuring his left side a month ago, tossed three scoreless innings to save a 3-2 defeat of the Phillies. In their three other outings, though, the Dodgers lost.
Phil Niekro of Atlanta won twice and Carl Morton snapped a personal six-game losing streak as he beat New York 7-3. That helped the Braves, 3-3, to gain on fourth-place San Diego, which won but once. It was hard to say which was worse, the Padres' offense (eight runs, 24 hits) or their pitching (24 runs, 37 hits and nine homers allowed).
It was sleepy time for Houston bats as the Astros managed to produce only 1.3 runs per game and lost seven straight. San Francisco, 2-4, rattled Montreal 13-5 and Chicago 10-8. Rightfielder Bobby Murcer was on a fine old tear, scoring nine times and driving in 10 runs. He hit three homers and .520 for the week.
CIN 32-22 LA 33-23 SF 25-26
SD 25-27 ATL 25-30 HOUS 20-38
Although the Phillies' Dick Allen was hitting only .177, teammates Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski insisted he was invaluable to the club in general and to them in particular, if only for his batting tips. Heeding the tips, Schmidt and Luzinski went on a rampage. During one span of 13 at bats, Schmidt had eight hits, five homers and 10 RBIs, and Luzinski contributed three home runs and nine RBIs. Then, in the week's finale, Allen broke loose himself by slamming his first two homers since returning to Philly. These came in a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers that climaxed a 14-homer week for the Phillies, who won five of six.
Pittsburgh, 3-2, clung precariously to first place as Richie Hebner broke out of his slump with homers in a pair of one-run wins. But his resurgence was offset by the loss of Pitcher Ken Brett, who was disabled with a sore elbow.
St. Louis, 5-1, swept Atlanta—1-0 as Lynn McGlothen tossed a four-hitter, then 4-2 and 5-2 as Al Hrabosky gained his seventh and eighth saves. Next it was on to Houston, where Bob Forsch won 6-0 on a two-hitter and McGlothen won again 5-1. Outfielder Willie Davis had four hits in his first 10 times up for St. Louis after being obtained in a trade with Texas for Shortstop Eddie Brinkman and Pitcher Tommy Moore.
New York, 4-3, got superb pitching against Houston: Jon Matlack won 2-0, Tom Hall 4-3, Jerry Koosman 1-0 and Tom Seaver 2-1. Dave Kingman hit a three-run homer in the second game but feared he might be removed for a pinch hitter in the last when he came up in the eighth inning with the bases full and the score 1-1. Had he been lifted, Kingman said he would have "thrown the bat into the upper deck." Given a chance to take his cuts, Kingman singled, and the Mets won.
Chicago, 3-3, finished another fine home stand, taking a series from L.A. for the first time since August 1973. While building their home record to 19-8 the Cubs also beat the Giants 6-5 when Bill Madlock tied the score in the ninth with a homer and settled matters in the 10th with a double. Then the Cubs went on the road and lost twice; they are 9-15 out of town.
Montreal pitchers were their own worst enemies, walking 25 men and wild-pitching across four runs in 36 innings. Dennis Blair was yanked after five hitless innings against the Dodgers because of a blister—and because he trailed 3-0 as the result of two walks, an error, two wild pitches and a sacrifice fly. The Dodgers went on to win by that score despite being outhit 8-2. In another game the Expos had four homers, but all for naught as Montreal lost to the Giants 13-5. However, Woodie Fryman came through. He beat L.A. 5-3 and completed his fifth game, thereby equaling his total for the past two years with Detroit.
PITT 27-20 CHI 28-23 NY 25-22
PHIL 27-24 ST.L. 24-25 MONT 16-27