Amid the confusion over the sale of Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi to the Red Sox and Vida Blue to the Yankees (page 22), the game went on, and Oakland (3-3) was cheered by its new act, Abbott and Lindblad. Although the A's knew who was on first, they did not know who was going to pitch for them on Tuesday because of the impending sale of Blue. So, shortly before game time, Pitching Coach Wes Stock said to Glenn Abbott, "Surprise. You're starting tonight." It turned out to be a pleasant surprise, for Abbott, who had not been on the mound in nearly a month, allowed the Red Sox just two hits and two runs in eight innings. Abbott was then replaced by Paul Lindblad, who became a 3-2 winner when Gene Tenace, Oakland's man on first, hit his second homer of the night and sixth in seven games in the bottom of the ninth. Four days later the two pitchers went into their routine again, Abbott being credited with his first win and Lindblad with his first save as Oakland muscled past Milwaukee 7-4.
With Shortstop Fred Patek, Second Baseman Frank White and Pitchers Steve Busby and Doug Bird all hurt, the Royals (4-2) had to make do. Did they ever. They pounded out 24 hits in a 21-7 drubbing of Detroit. Leading the assault were Dave Nelson, who took over at second base and had four RBIs; Amos Otis, who drove in five runs; George Brett, the regular third baseman, who moved over to short and rapped out four hits; and Tom Poquette, who had five hits and scored five times.
Minnesota came up with two wins in seven tries—barely. Leading the Tigers 4-0 in the top of the sixth, Dave Goltz was tagged for a single, double, two triples, a homer and four runs. After those runs poured across, the rain poured down while the Twins batted in the sixth. It rained so hard that the game was called, the score reverting to the last full inning, the fifth. That washed away Detroit's four runs and made Goltz a 4-0 winner.
Rich Gossage of Chicago (0-7) was a sore loser, being hit on both legs by batted balls as the Yankees beat him 4-3.
Bert Blyleven, who was supposed to give the Texas pitching staff a lift, lost 9-4 to Cleveland, his third defeat without a win since being obtained from Minnesota. Those were the only losses for the Rangers (2-4) in 11 games before they dropped the next three to the Orioles. Gaylord Perry stopped the Indians 3-2 and moved past Bob Feller and Warren Spahn into sixth place on the all-time strikeout list by fanning six and raising his total to 2,586.
Nolan Ryan was glad to have his rhythm back, Gary Ross was happy that his sinkerball sank and the Angels (4-3) were further delighted by the fielding of Ron Jackson and the slugging of Bob Jones. Those four combined to snap some bad streaks. With his pitching rhythm restored, Ryan was as steady as a metronome while muffling the Brewers 1-0 on two hits. Ross also tossed a two-hitter, downing Milwaukee 2-0 as he got 18 outs on grounders, three of them on scintillating plays by Jackson, the team's new third baseman. For Ross it was his first complete game in 28 starts since 1968. Jones, who took over in center field last week, walloped a pair of home runs, the first by an Angel at Anaheim in five weeks. Those drives aided Ryan, who, still rhythmic, came back to strike out 15 and halt Boston 5-3.
KC 39-21 TEX 33-25 MINN 29-31 OAK 30-33 CHI 27-31 CAL 27-39
The Orioles' Jim Palmer ended a nine-game Baltimore losing streak with his first win in 17 days, a five-hit, 4-0 shutout of Chicago. After that came a whopping 10-player deal with New York. Yankee Pitchers Dave Pagan, Rudy May, Tippy Martinez and Scott McGregor and Catcher Rick Dempsey for Oriole Pitchers Ken Holtzman, Doyle Alexander, Grant Jackson and Jim Freeman and Catcher Elrod Hendricks. With all the uniform changes taken care of, the Orioles (5-1) continued winning. Mike Cuellar beat Chicago 10-2 in his first complete game of the season, Reliever Pagan saved a 4-1 win over Texas and May handled the Rangers 9-4. Next the Orioles rallied to topple the Rangers 8-4, Palmer winning again and striking out 11. The Orioles, who had just 31 homers in their first 54 games, exploded for a dozen, Lee May hitting four and taking the league lead with 13. Outfielder Ken Singleton took over as the team's designated hitter—and explained how he utilized his new free time: "I had a diet drink, a few Doritos, watched the game on TV and read Penthouse."
For New York (5-1) the traded Jackson earned a 3-2, 14-inning win over Chicago in relief and Alexander beat the White Sox 4-3 as the Yankees increased their lead to seven games. Thurman Munson had three RBIs in a 4-2 win over the Twins, and Sparky Lyle gained his ninth, 10th and 11th saves.
Strong pitching by Pat Dobson and Jim Kern enabled Cleveland (4-2) to cling to second place. Dobson (8-5) defeated Chicago 8-5 and, after hurting his ribcage while pitching in his next game, was bailed out by Kern, who wrapped up a 3-0 verdict over Kansas City with two scoreless innings of relief.
Rick Wise of Boston (4-3) blanked Minnesota 5-0 on one hit, an infield roller that Jerry Terrell narrowly beat out in the third inning. Newcomer Rick Jones, a 6'5" lefthander, stopped the Twins 10-2.
Years ago the strategy of the Boston Braves was immortalized in a saying that went: "Spahn and Sain, then two days of rain." Now that the Brewers also rely largely on a two-man staff, Lou Chapman of the Milwaukee Sentinel has composed a new refrain: "Travers and Slaton, then two days of waitin'." Bill Travers befuddled California 9-0 on three hits and Jim Slaton held off Oakland 5-4 during the Brewers' 4-3 week. That gave both pitchers 8-3 records, two-thirds of the team's 24 wins. And Travers had a 1.59 ERA, lowest in the league.
Detroit (2-5) was helped by two rookies. First Baseman Jason Thompson slammed three homers, two of them as Mark Fidrych (5-1) beat the Royals 4-3.
NY 36-22 CLEV 29-29 BALT 29-31 BOS 28-30 DET 26-33 MIL 24-32
In a week containing a two-game confrontation that might have been a prelude to a Philadelphia-Cincinnati divisional playoff, Phillie fans were exuberant, as were their newspapers. MAGIC NUMBER STANDS AT 100, said one. Mike Schmidt's home run total stood at 19 when he hit his third of Philadelphia's 4-3 week, and clearly September could not come soon enough for Jim Kaat (6-2). He pitched one inning in two minutes, another in three as he disposed of the Giants 6-1 in a game requiring but an hour and 47 minutes. There was magnificent baseball in the summit series, the Phillies winning the first game 6-5. In a jewel of a fielding play Phillie Shortstop Larry Bowa raced deep in the hole toward third base, backhanded a smash by Tony Perez, leaped and threw him out. "If we'd been ahead I'd have stood up and clapped," said Pete Rose. Cincinnati took the second game 4-3.
Al Oliver socked his ninth and 10th homers and Jerry Reuss muzzled Houston 2-1, but Pittsburgh (4-0) still trailed Philadelphia by seven games.
After failing to hit higher than .266 in three seasons, Mike Tyson of St. Louis (4-3) planned to become a switch hitter this year. Because spring training was curtailed and because he was injured for almost a month, though, Tyson gave up the idea. Three weeks ago his average was under .209. Then Tyson got going. He has hit .418 so far this month, raised his average to .295 and leads the league in triples with seven. Tyson had three RBIs as the Cardinals outslugged the Reds 12-9 and he scored the only run as John Curtis and Bill Greif held off the Padres 1-0.
Spurting, too, was Bill Madlock of Chicago (3-4), last year's batting champion. Madlock hit a grand slam to finish off Atlanta 6-4, batted .478 for the week and brought his average up to .316.
Tom Seaver and Jon Matlack excelled on the mound and Dave Kingman produced in the clutch for New York (5-2). Seaver beat the Giants 4-1 and 3-2, Matlack topped the Dodgers 2-1 and Kingman unloaded his 23rd homer in the 14th to nip Los Angeles 1-0.
Hoping to shake his teammates out of their lethargy, Catcher Barry Foote of Montreal (2-4) shouted it was time the team scored some runs. Suiting deed to word, Foote then went out and bopped a two-run homer in Don Stanhouse's 3-0 win over San Diego. Stanhouse also defeated the Dodgers 2-1.
PHIL 42-18 PITT 35-25 NY 33-34 CHI 28-35 ST.L 28-35 MONT 21-35
At that nifty Reds-Phillies series, Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion and Bowa of the Phillies—two of the slickest shortstops in the league—were needling each other. After Concepcion mentioned that he held a substantial lead over his counterpart in the All-Star balloting, Bowa asked, "Is your first name Elmer?" Replied Concepcion, "Why you ask that?" Rejoined Bowa, "I thought it had to be Elmer. Every time I look at the box score it says 'E-Concepcion,' " a reference to the errors Concepcion has made—44 so far. Dave was not amused. In that 4-3 win in the second game of the summit series, he had three hits, stole a base, scored one run, drove in another and robbed Bowa of a single with a fine defensive play. "Elmer's glue," shouted Concepcion. "That's me." Like the Phillies, the Reds were 4-3 for the week, and they hit nine homers, including the 12th, 13th and 14th by George Foster.
Manny Mota of Los Angeles (3-3) played left field when the team needed outfield help. Though he is no gold glover, Mota made a sliding catch to help save a 4-1 win over the Mets and threw out the potential tying run at the plate as the Dodgers squirmed past the Expos 6-5. Los Angeles also got a boost when Tommy John pitched his first complete game since coming down with arm trouble in June, 1974, beating Montreal 6-3.
Just when the Phillie offense was beginning to look unstoppable—it had generated 50 runs in seven games—it was halted at least temporarily. Randy Jones of the Padres, who had handed the Phillies their only shutout of the season, silenced them again, 5-0, for his 12th win. Despite a subsequent 7-4 loss to St. Louis, Jones extended his string of innings without a walk to 61, seven short of Christy Mathewson's league record.
Fifth-place Atlanta (4-3) has hardly lived up to its clubhouse boast—"Through this door passes the finest team in baseball"—but there were signs of life. Andy Messersmith improved his record to 6-5 as he beat St. Louis 5-2 and Chicago 9-3. And Rowland Office lengthened his hitting streak to 24 games.
Although outhitting Pittsburgh 14-6, the Astros lost 6-3. Things were going so badly for Houston (0-4) that they even got rained out at the Astrodome when adjacent roads became so flooded that a game had to be postponed. San Francisco (1-6) ended its seven-game losing skid when Jim Barr beat New York 5-0.
CIN 40-24 LA 37-28 SD 33-29 HOUS 29-35 ATL 26-36 SF 24-42
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
HENRY AARON: Milwaukee's 42-year-old designated hitter, who had just two homers all season, walloped four and increased his career total to 751. Aaron batted .368, had seven RBIs and beat the A's 3-2 with a home run in the ninth.