When the Royals arrived in Oakland for a three-game series, both teams were in top form. Kansas City was fresh off an 8-7 win over California in which Tony Solaita hit three home runs and John Mayberry two, giving him the league lead with 33. But the Angels did not concede until Solaita knocked in the deciding run in the 11th with a measly single. For the Royals it was their eighth straight triumph and it moved them to within five games of the A's, who started the week by taking a doubleheader from the Rangers.
In Game One of the pivotal series in Oakland the A's stomped to an 8-2 victory as Gene Tenace, Sal Bando and Claudell Washington homered to back up Ken Holtzman's five-hit pitching. Tenace hit another homer the next night, but it was not until the 14th that a 1—all deadlock was snapped. Bert Campaneris reached base on a two-out error and then, despite the gimpy leg that prevented him from starting at short and in defiance of Manager Alvin Dark's orders not to run, stole second. Bill North brought Campy home with a single, and the A's led the Royals by seven. In Game Three, Tenace homered again (No. 24), and so did Bando as Oakland coasted 9-1, Vida Blue getting his 19th win. Bando, who had begun the week with just 10 homers for the season, slugged two more in an 8-5 decision over the Twins. The A's finished the week with seven wins and one loss. The Royals (3-4) took a doubleheader from the Angels 10-2 and 7-2, John Mayberry getting four RBIs. By week's end he had a league high of 99, one more than Boston's Jim Rice.
Saturday the 13th was memorable for the Angels (3-3), who beat the Royals 6-2 for the first time in 13 games. After giving up a double to his nemesis, George Brett, Ed Figueroa finally stopped him. Brett had reached Figueroa for 13 consecutive hits.
Texas (4-3) utilized an offense that ranged from explosive (four homers in a 9-4 conquest of Minnesota) to timely (Dave Nelson's two RBIs in the ninth sidetracked the Twins 4-2) to patient (three 10th-inning walks, one with the bases jammed, defeated Chicago 8-7).
Four RBIs by Jorge Orta enabled Chicago to put down Texas 5-2 for its only win in five tries. Minnesota (2-5) trimmed Chicago 9-1 as rookie Jim Hughes won his 14th with the help of two homers by Steve Brye, his first at bats since he suffered a broken hand two months ago.
OAK 90-57 KC 82-65 TEX 73-76 CHI 69-77 MINN 67-77 CAL 67-81
The Orioles got unexpected help from Johnny Walker, not the whiskey but a Baltimore disc jockey, who flew to Kenya, where he had a witch doctor cast an evil spell on the Red Sox last Saturday. That was the day the Orioles (6-2) stopped the Tigers 8-0 and the Red Sox (4-5) split with the Brewers, leaving Baltimore only four games back. In the Oriole win Paul Blair drove in five runs and Doyle Alexander won his second four-hitter of the week. Jim Palmer of the Birds zapped the Indians 10-2 for his 21st victory and Mike Torrez came out on top twice to bring his record to 18-8. The Sox got a lift when Luis Tiant, winless for nearly a month, beat the Tigers 3-1.
Catfish Hunter of New York (6-1) became the third American Leaguer to have five 20-win seasons in a row, joining Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove when he zeroed Baltimore 2-0. Hunter later beat the Brewers 10-2.
Fritz Peterson of Cleveland (6-3) cut his hand on a lawn mower in mid-June. Since returning to action on July 21 he has not lost. Last week Peterson muffled Detroit 9-0, needed a mere 79 pitches to subdue New York 7-1 and ran his winning streak to nine games, the longest in the league this year.
"It's humiliating, embarrassing, humbling. It cuts a hole in you." That was Jim Colborn's evaluation of how it felt to be pitching for downtrodden Milwaukee (2-6). But George Scott cut through the gloom with his 28th and 29th homers as the Brewers trounced the Red Sox 7-3 and 9-6.
Detroit was shut out three times, was out-scored 55-22 and lost eight of nine games. Fernando Arroyo defeated Boston 5-3 in his first big-league start, thanks to a two-run homer by Willie Horton, his 25th.
BOS 87-61 BALT 83-65 NY 76-72 CLEV 71-73 MIL 63-86 DET 55-93
Rejuvenated pitchers gave Pittsburgh (4-3) and Philadelphia (4-2) cause for hope, but wasted hits defeated St. Louis (2-5) and New York (2-6). Bob Moose, who missed much of last season after the removal of a blood clot from his pitching shoulder and who recently had been recalled from the minors, earned his first victory for Pittsburgh in 17 months. He accomplished this with 7‚Öì innings of scoreless relief as the Pirates overcame the Expos 6-3. For the Phillies the come-back hurler was Wayne Simpson, whose last win was for Kansas City 28 months ago. His victory came during a stretch in which Phillie pitchers seemed to follow a mathematical progression, giving up one fewer run each day as Tom Underwood and Steve Carlton beat St. Louis 6-3 and 6-2, and Simpson and Larry Christenson stopped Montreal 5-1 and 5-0. Lynn McGlothen of the Cardinals crippled the Mets with 12-4 and 5-1 setbacks, the former the ninth win for St. Louis in its last 10 Sunday games. But the Cardinals squandered much of Ted Simmons' .448 hitting. Also hitting in vain was Dave Kingman, who had three homers in Met losses. His 34th of the season, though, came in a 7-0 shutout of Pittsburgh by Jerry Koosman and tied him for the major league lead with Mike Schmidt of Philadelphia, who had two home runs during the week.
Chicago (5-1) came up with a new sensation: Centerfielder Joe (Tarzan) Wallis, so called because he dives off cliffs and hotel roofs into assorted bodies of water. Right at home among the Wrigley Field vines, Tarzan homered in a 6-5 surprise of the Pirates, then hammered two triples and threw out a runner at home as the Cubs shook up the Cardinals 7-5.
Another brand-new centerfielder, Jerry White, went 11 for 26 for Montreal (4-4) and, like Wallis, homered in a 6-5 win, this one over New York.
PITT 83-63 PHIL 78-69 ST. L 76-71 NY 75-73 CHI 71-77 MONT 65-82
"I thought he hit it off the end of the earth," said Cincinnati's Clay Kirby of a prodigious home run belted against him by Willie McCovey of San Diego in an 11-2 romp by the Padres (4-2). That team's leading pitcher, Randy Jones, baffled Atlanta 2-1 on two hits, winning for the 19th time and regaining the ERA lead from New York's Tom Seaver, 2.19 to 2.25.
Cincinnati (3-4) clinched first place on Sept. 7, the earliest in league history. Tony Perez was then sidelined with a sprained back and Johnny Bench with a badly bruised left ankle. When Bench's leg was X-rayed there were some unusual findings: three old fractures he had been unaware of.
The Giants took advantage of the weakened Reds, drubbing them 9-2 to end a six-game losing skid.
Los Angeles (5-2) got superb pitching from Andy Messersmith (two shutouts for his 16th and 17th wins), Rick Rhoden (5-2 over the Reds) and Burt Hooton (3-2 over Cincy for his 10th straight victory). And Davey Lopes became the ninth player to steal 70 bases in a season.
Errors—16 of them—haunted Atlanta (3-4). Once again the Braves' alltime attendance low was set, 737 spectators witnessing a 9-6 loss to the Astros in which Cesar Cedeno had six RBIs. Houston (4-2) swept a series on the road for the first time this year, a mere two-game affair in San Francisco, but a sweep nonetheless.
CIN 97-51 LA 80-69 SF 71-77 SD 68-80 ATL 65-84 HOUS 58-91