Two front office doors slammed on two managers, Billy Martin of the Rangers and Jack McKeon of the Royals, McKeon getting the bad news at 3 a.m. while on a team flight. Taking over for them were a couple of erstwhile third-base coaches. Texas (4-4) hoped to buoy itself by using one of its own men, Frank Lucchesi, and Kansas City (6-2) hired Whitey Herzog, late of the Angels. The very first batter to come up for the Rangers after Lucchesi took command, rookie Centerfielder Dave Moates, homered and, with Ferguson Jenkins in form, Texas breezed past Boston 6-0. In the next game, Gay lord Perry tossed his third shutout in his last four starts, struck out 13, gave up just two singles and beat the Indians 4-0. Pepped up, Texas downed Cleveland once more, this time 9-8 in 13 innings. Then the Rangers met the Royals and their new skipper and lost three straight.
On the day his second daughter was born, Rod Carew of Minnesota (3-6) celebrated by getting three hits in a 3-0 victory over New York. Then, after being named the Twins' team captain, he whacked out four hits as the Twins pummeled the Angels 12-1.
Nolan Ryan of the Angels (2-5) began to emerge from his slump. Ryan, who had a 6.32 ERA during an eight-game losing streak, combined with Jim Brewer to silence the Twins 5-0. Frank (Chiquita) Tanana held off the Orioles 1-0.
After Johnny Bench was quoted as saying only two Oakland players—Reggie Jackson and Joe Rudi—would be able to make the Reds' squad, the A's sounded off. "I'd hate to pitch to him," said Rollie Fingers. "He can't think behind the plate. All he knows is he has five fingers on his hand, but he doesn't know which ones to put down." Following an 8-6 defeat of Chicago, Jackson said, "I guess I did it all." He did. Jackson threw out a runner at the plate, stole third on the front end of a daring double steal in the 12th with the A's down by two runs, singled, doubled twice and settled matters with a two-run homer in the 13th. That was Jackson's third home run of the week and gave him a league-leading 23. Fingers continued his mastery over Baltimore with four shutout innings in a 5-2 triumph. Since April of last season he has hurled 21 scoreless innings against the Orioles, striking out 21 and giving up 13 hits.
It was almost double or nothing for Chicago (5-3), which won two doubleheaders—9-2 and 10-5 over Milwaukee and 4-3 and 1-0 over New York. But playing them one at a time, the White Sox lost three games before Jim Kaat quieted the A's 5-2 to become the majors' first 15-game winner.
OAK 62-37 KC 53-46 CHI 48 49 TEX 47-54 CAL 45-57 MINN 43-57
Psst! The Red Sox (5-3) are not just a bunch of sluggers. They proved they have fielders and pitchers in their midst, too. Outstanding plays were made by Leftfielder Jim Rice, who robbed Minnesota's Glenn Borgmann of two homers in a 4-2 Boston win, and Shortstop Rick Burleson and Second Baseman Denny Doyle, who turned several apparent Yankee hits into outs as the Sox prevailed 4-2. Nifty pitching was supplied by two-time winner Reggie Cleveland and by Rick Wise, who put down the Twins 6-2 for his 13th victory. Preserving Cleveland's wins was Jim Willoughby, who had three saves.
While climbing from fourth place to second, Baltimore (4-3) got two wins from Mike Cuellar, 8-3 over California and 4-0 over Milwaukee on a one-hitter. The Orioles survived five Brewer home runs in another game to pull out a 10-7 win.
New York (4-4) began by taking a double-header from Minnesota, frolicking 14-2 and then squeezing out the nightcap 5-4 with two runs in the ninth. But the Yankees hit no homers in their last eight games and twice lost one-run decisions.
Cleveland (3-3), Detroit (3-5) and Milwaukee (3-6) had troubles of their own. Indian Second Baseman Duane Kuiper injured his knee and Reliever Tom Buskey his back. But Dennis Eckersley improved his record to 7-3 by defeating Detroit 6-0. That was one of three shutouts suffered by the Tigers, who, like the Indians, lost two players. And the injuries were hurting. Reliever John Hiller, who had not been scored on in his last 11 outings, was put on the disabled list with a pulled muscle in his pitching arm, and Outfielder Danny Meyer was out with a broken foot. The Brewers are also beset with walking wounded: Tim Johnson has to wait until fellow Second Baseman Pedro Garcia returns from his bout with a back injury before he can have an elbow operation. Bandaged and weary, the Brewers committed 18 errors, leaving them just 13 short of last season's total, the lowest in the league. George Scott, still robust, hit home runs 18, 19 and 20, and was made team captain.
BOS 58-40 BALT 49-47 NY 50-48 MIL 50-50 DET 44-54 CLEV 43-53
While Cincinnati (4-4) cruised along, San Francisco moved to within two games of second-place Los Angeles. The Giants (7-2) spurted as Jim Barr beat the Pirates 7-2 and the Astros 8-1, each time being supported by three RBIs by Chris Speier, who had 14 in all. Also chipping in was Willie Montanez, who drove in 10 runs and hit .419. Despite nine homers—three of them by rookie John Hale—the Dodgers (3-5) stumbled.
Randy Jones of San Diego (4-4) took the league ERA lead with a 2.04 mark, throwing just 68 pitches to knock off Pittsburgh 1-0 for his fifth shutout. In a showdown with the Braves for fourth place, the Padres won three in a row as Mike I vie went 9 for 15. Ivie, a hometown boy, is 17 for 27 in six games in Atlanta this season.
A botched-up double play cost the Braves (3-6) a 1-0 loss to the Phillies, and tendinitis in his shoulder put last year's ERA titlist, Buzz Capra, out for the season. But Phil Niekro won for the ninth and 10th times.
In Houston, the Astros (3-5) were still the Lastros. Cesar Cedeno was sidelined with a split finger and the team, which lost three one-run contests, went the week without hitting a home run.
CIN 66-35 LA 53-49 SF 50-50 SD 47-54 ATL 43-57 HOUS 36-67
The Towering Inferno is a nickname that has been hung on Dave Kingman of the Mets because he is 6'6" and has a fiery temper. Last week Kingman was towering and smoking, hitting five home runs. He started with two homers and six RBIs against Houston as New York, down 7-1, rallied to win 10-9. Kingman finished up with his 21st of the season in another slugfest, a 9-8 decision in Chicago. New York (5-2) beat Cincinnati twice: Jerry Koosman slowed down the Reds 3-1, setting up one run with the first steal of his nine-year career; then Jon Matlack hung on for a 5-2 win.
Greg Luzinski (page 12) does more than bang home runs for the Phillies (5-3). In a 3-2 defeat of Atlanta he stole two bases, one of which set up the winning run which another slugger, Mike Schmidt, squeezed in. Turning on their speed, the Phillies stole 14 bases as they moved to within four games of the Pirates (3-4). Pittsburgh batters had an off week, hitting .249. But the pitchers took up the slack, four-hitters being thrown by Jerry Reuss, who beat the Expos 6-1, and Dock Ellis, who subdued the Padres 8-1.
With three more one-run victories, St. Louis (6-3) boosted its record in that category to 19-10. Three former Dodgers—Ron Fairly, Willie Davis and Ted Sizemore—tormented their old teammates. In the first game a single by Fairly, a double by Davis and a sacrifice fly by Mario Guerrero in the 11th beat Los Angeles 4-3. A day later, Sizemore's two-run single gave St. Louis the winning margin in a 5-4 contest. Reliever Al Hrabosky lifted his record to 9-2 with three wins and brought his ERA down to 1.45. Harry Rasmussen eased to a 4-0 win over San Diego in his big-league debut. Ted Simmons hit a most unusual non-homer, having his over-the-fence drive disallowed because he hit it with a bat into which grooves had been cut near the barrel end.
Montreal (3-5) and Chicago (2-5) slumbered on. But Pete Mackanin and Gary Carter did have game-winning hits for the Expos. And Manny Trillo's single in the ninth gave Rick Reuschel and the Cubs a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers. Another Cub, Bill Mad-lock, went 6 for 6 in vain, his feat coming in the 9-8 loss to the Mets.
PITT 60-38 PHIL 57-43 NY 50-45 ST. L 49-49 CHI 45-55 MONT 40-54