It was 5 a.m. on Monday when Richie Hebner of Philadelphia finally fell into bed after a flight home from San Diego, where the Phillies had concluded a 1-6 road trip. After only three hours' sleep, Hebner's phone rang, making him feel as if he had been awakened from the dead. The caller was his father, a gravedigger in Norwood, Mass. "What's going on with you guys?" Hebner's dad inquired. "Haven't you got anything better to do?" replied Richie. "Sure, I've got three burials this morning," the elder Hebner said, "but I was wondering what was going on down there. Even the pallbearers are giving me a hard time about the Phillies." What was going on was that second-place Philadelphia had scored only eight runs in its previous five games and had dug itself into a 2½-game hole behind the Cubs. Later on Monday, an open date for the Phillies, Hebner was on his way to pick up teammate Greg Luzinski for a round of golf when his car overheated and stalled on a busy highway. "There must have been 20 people behind me honking their horns," Hebner said. One disgruntled motorist yelled at him, "You Phillies can't do anything right these days."
Before the week was over, the Phillies (4-2) were running smoothly again and reclaimed first place. Having lost eight of nine previous games, they began a four-game winning streak when Steve Carlton beat St. Louis 2-1. Larry Bowa scored the decisive run with daring base running in the fourth inning. Bowa was on second when Luzinski hit a grounder to the right of Cardinal Shortstop Garry Templeton. Aware that Templeton is a poor fielder, Bowa said he had decided "if the ball's hit to his right, I'm going." Go he did, in violation of one of baseball's most revered base-running laws. Templeton fielded the ball, started to throw to third, changed his mind and pegged the ball past first base for his 21st error of the season, while Bowa scored.
The Phillies next swept a doubleheader from the Cubs, winning each game 6-1. Dick Ruthven won for the first time since being reacquired from the Braves on June 15. Philadelphia stole six bases in the twin bill, including one in each game by the lumbering Luzinski. Then they made it three in a row over Chicago, Jim Kaat winning 6-2 as he singled home one run and scored another. He was backed by Mike Schmidt's 11th homer.
For Chicago (1-6), the fizzle in Philadelphia was only one of many woes. Rick Reuschel, who has an 8-4 record and leads the league's starters with a 2.07 ERA, was out with a strained elbow; Ken Holtzman was shelled in his two starts since returning to Chicago; leading hitter Bill Buckner was disabled with a pulled groin; and Steve Ontiveros, a .299 batter last season, was sidelined with a sore shoulder and a sickly .215 average. A three-run 10th, in which Larry Biittner drove in the go-ahead run and Manny Trillo doubled home a pair, zapped Pittsburgh 6-4.
Although he held a 2-0 lead over New York, Hal Dues of Montreal (3-3) was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh. Dues, a .154 batter, was not upset, saying, "I can't hit. Why don't they teach us to hit in the minors? They don't even teach us how to bunt." Mike Garman finished up the 2-0 two-hitter for Dues. One pitcher who knew how to hit was Steve Rogers (8-7, 2.25 ERA), who singled twice, drove in a run and trimmed the Mets 2-1 in a rain-curtailed, seven-inning game. Woodie Fryman, Darold Knowles and Garman combined for a 2-0 win in St. Louis during which Tony Perez slammed his fifth double of the week. For Perez, who has never had more than 33 two-baggers in a season, it was his 13th in 17 games and tied him with Ted Simmons of St. Louis for the major league lead with 23. Most of the rest of the Expos' right-handed hitters—there are usually seven in the lineup—hit feebly, as the Expos, who did not face a lefthanded pitcher, batted .228. Wayne Garrett and Del Unser, lefthanded hitters obtained in a 1976 deal with the Mets, defeated their former team 2-0, with Garrett homering and Unser singling in the other run.
Another former Met, John Milner, carried the Pirates (3-3) to a 7-4 win in New York with a single, two doubles and a grand slam. Milner's big blast came in the 12th after Omar Moreno had broken a 2-2 tie with a single. Pittsburgh sidetracked Chicago 6-1 behind the pitching of Bert Blyleven and 2-1 as Frank Taveras made John Candelaria a winner with a two-out RBI single in the ninth. Last season's batting champ, Dave Parker, raised his average to .307 with a .391 week.
It took some doing, but the light-hitting Mets (2-5), who batted .216, salvaged two wins. A four-hitter by Nino Espinosa beat Montreal 3-0, and Tim Foli's bases-loaded single in the 11th defeated Pittsburgh 3-2.
Sounding off in much the same manner as his San Diego counterpart, Ray Kroc, had a week earlier, St. Louis owner Gussie Busch said, "I am getting damn mad.... Management does not pay salaries to supposedly quality players for constant mental errors, for a loose and carefree attitude.... If we don't get going, we may make changes, starting from the top and going all the way down to the bat boys." How did the Cardinals respond to that indictment? Reliever Mark Littell said, "Mr. Busch has been an awfully successful businessman. I'd like to sit down and talk to him regarding investments." Littell helped his own stock when he struck out five Expos in 2‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings as he wrapped up an 8-4 win a few hours after Busch's verbal barrage.
PHIL 35-29 CHI 35-31 MONT 36-34 PITT 31-34 NY 31-41 ST.L 25-45
"I don't know why I started doing it," said Vida Blue of the Giants (5-2). "It just seemed so natural." What came naturally was the cheerleading Blue has been doing at Candlestick Park, where, when not pitching, he comes out of the dugout to whip up the crowd. Four Giants who have not played much gave Blue lots of opportunities to lead cheers. Rob Andrews, at second base only because Bill Madlock was out with a pulled hamstring, beat the Mets 4-3 with a single in the 10th. Substitute Outfielder Heity Cruz had four RBIs as the Giants decked the Braves 9-0. Roger Metzger took over the shortstop job from Johnnie LeMaster, batted .353 (123 points better than his career average) and drove in some vital runs. Two of Metzger's RBIs came in a game in which Ed Halicki held the Reds to three singles and beat them 3-0. Metzger drove in another pair of runs as Jim Barr, a pitcher the Giants had tried to trade, defeated Atlanta 2-1. Barr's no-walk performance was part of a week of remarkable control by San Francisco pitchers, who issued only 13 bases on balls. Candlestick fans became so exuberant about the Giants, who moved out to a three-game division lead, that they got out of hand during a game against the second-place Reds. When assorted fireworks crackled around Cincinnati outfielders, Umpire Doug Harvey called both teams off the field and threatened to forfeit the game to the Reds if the disturbance did not end. The explosions stopped, and Halicki went on to finish his 3-0 victory.
Cincinnati (3-3) took the two other games of that series. George Foster's 15th home run helped the Reds knock off the Giants 6-3, and Bill Bonham (8-1) and Manny Sarmiento combined on a three-hit, 5-0 win that rendered Blue cheerless. Sarmiento also pitched four shutout innings during Fred Norman's 4-2 win over St. Louis. The latest Norman conquest left him with a 45-18 record at Riverfront Stadium.
Don Sutton and newcomer Bob Welch took some pressure off the Dodgers' weary bullpen. Two wins were chalked up by Sutton, who beat Montreal 4-0 and Cincinnati 4-3. Fresh from the minors, Welch pitched 5‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings of shutout relief, struck out seven and saved Sutton's victory over the Reds. He also became a 5-4 winner against Houston when Bill North doubled in the 11th and Steve Yeager drove him in with a pinch single. Another big hit was Steve Garvey's homer that gave Burt Hooton a 1-0 triumph over Cincy. Second Baseman Davey Lopes came within one of the league record when he stole four bases in one game. Since Lopes recovered from pleurisy and a pulled chest muscle, Los Angeles (4-2) has been 12-7. While Lopes was out, the Dodgers were 5-9.
FINGERS DOESN'T PUT OUT FIRES, HE STARTS THEM. That was the sign posted in Randy Jones' locker in San Diego (4-2) after Rollie Fingers had prankishly torched Jones' clothes. On the mound, Fingers was smoking as he earned his third win and 15th and 16th saves. Also hot were Oscar Gamble, who batted .429, and Gene Richards, who hit .500. Gay-lord Perry's 50th career shutout was a 3-0 four-hitter against Houston.
Leadoff man Terry Puhl of the Astros (3-3) hit .458 and took over the lead in the league batting race with a .328 average.
SF 44-24 CIN 42-28 LA 39-30 SD 32-37 HOUS 30-35 ATL 27-39
While the Red Sox (4-2) continued to get strong hitting and stingy pitching, the Orioles (3-3) and Yankees (3-4) fell 8½ games back. Jim Palmer of Baltimore beat Oakland 2-1, Scott McGregor held off Milwaukee 8-5, and Mike Flanagan (11-4) beat the Brewers 10-3. Flanagan's victory was his sixth in a row, his 10th in his last 11 decisions and his 24th out of 30 dating back to June 1977. New York was within two outs of a 1-0 loss to Detroit's Dave Rozema when Reggie Jackson homered, setting off a New York rally that clinched Ron Guidry's 12th win without a loss.
Rookie Second Baseman Paul Molitor's third steal of the game—a swipe of home—helped Milwaukee (3-4) defeat Cleveland 4-1. Jerry Augustine, who won that game, evened his record at 8-8, shutting out Seattle on three hits. Since returning to the rotation after a bullpen stint, Augustine has allowed only one run in 23‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings.
When Manager Ralph Houk of Detroit (3-3) heard laughter on the team bus following a loss in Minnesota, he angrily told his players, "I wouldn't laugh at anything the way you're playing." The cause of Houk's displeasure was the Tigers' seventh loss in a row. They broke the streak with a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays in which Jason Thompson doubled home the winning run in the 13th. Thompson's 17th homer and three RBIs then beat Toronto 10-8, and his two RBIs helped Jim Slaton defeat New York 4-3. Overall, Thompson batted .480 and drove in nine runs. The latest report on Mark (The Bird) Fidrych was not good; after four weeks of rest and light workouts in Florida, his arm was still sore, and he could only lob the ball.
Rick Waits (5-7, 2.53 ERA) of Cleveland (4-3) won twice, ending Milwaukee's 10-game winning streak with a 3-0 victory and beating Toronto 8-3.
By losing all five of their games, the Blue Jays ended up with the lowest won-lost percentage in either league—.313.
BOS 49-21 BALT 40-29 NY 40-29 MIL 39-30 DET 34-33 CLEV 30-36 TOR 21-46
"What's it like to lose in this league?" Tom Paciorek kept asking on the team bus as the Mariners (5-1), who earlier had broken a 10-game losing streak—their worst ever—reeled off five victories to tie their longest winning string. Paciorek, who had played in the National League before he was called up to Seattle when Ruppert Jones had an appendectomy, got his answer on Saturday. That was the day Paciorek started for the first time in leftfield, was hit on the left wrist by a line drive and went 0 for 3 at the plate during a 5-0 loss to Milwaukee. Glenn Abbott, recovered from a bad hamstring pull and sprained ankle, had opened Seattle's win streak with a 3-2 victory in Boston. The outcome of that game was in doubt until Leftfielder Bruce Bochte made a skidding, one-handed grab of Jim Rice's two-on, two-out liner in the ninth. Abbott also picked up the Mariners' fifth win when he beat the Brewers 3-0 on four hits.
Like the Mariners, the Rangers (6-1) had plenty of wins to savor. With Bobby Bonds coming out of his slump, Texas climbed to second place, half a game behind Kansas City. In a 3-2 victory over Toronto, Bonds doubled in the ninth, advanced to third on a ground out and scored the winning run on a drag bunt by Bobby Thompson. Then Bonds, a .409 hitter for the week, drove in eight runs as Texas took a doubleheader from California 7-0 and 8-4. His pair of three-run homers paved the way for Ferguson Jenkins' eighth victory in the opener, and his double knocked in two more runs in the nightcap. Richie Zisk, who early in the season had a bunch of clutch hits but whose average had since fallen into the .270s, delivered a game-winning single in a 5-4 victory over Oakland. It came in the ninth after Bump Wills was walked intentionally so the A's could get at Zisk, whose hit climaxed a Ranger comeback from a 4-0 deficit. Thompson, a rookie centerfielder, homered as Jon Matlack (6-8, but a 2.57 ERA) handcuffed the Angels 3-0 on two infield singles.
Rivaling Bonds' productivity was Claudell Washington of Chicago (2-5). Washington batted .393, drove in seven runs, scored seven times and walloped his first two homers of the season in a resounding return to action. Washington had been disabled for 25 days with a gimpy ankle after being obtained in the May deal that sent Bonds to Texas.
With their bats not as potent as usual, the Royals (5-3) had to rely on the relief work of Al Hrabosky and their speed on the base paths. Hrabosky earned his second victory and ninth, 10th and 11th saves as he yielded only one hit and struck out eight batters in 5⅖ innings. Among the Royals' 20 stolen bases were seven by Fred Patek, to run his season's total to 22. Willie Wilson's three thefts gave him 27, tops in the league.
After six years in the minors, Dave Machemer, 27, made it to the majors as an in-fielder with the Angels (4-3). The wait was almost worth it; in his first at bat, Machemer homered, becoming the 46th player in major league history to accomplish that feat. Machemer's blast, plus Don Baylor's 17th, helped Don Aase beat Minnesota 5-2. A ninth-inning home run by Ron Fairly gave Chris Knapp a 3-2 win in New York. And then Fairly and Brian Downing each had three RBIs as Frank Tanana (11-3) beat the Twins 10-5. A pulled hamstring put Nolan Ryan on the 21-day disabled list.
Although owner Charlie Finley kept bringing in new players, Oakland (2-5) fell to fourth place. One of the acquisitions was Second Baseman Tito Fuentes, who hit .309 for Detroit last season, became a free agent, was released by Montreal and wound up playing in Mexico until summoned by Finley. In his first 20 at bats with the A's, Fuentes had one hit. Tim Conroy, an 18-year-old lefty from Monroeville, Pa., also joined the A's. When Conroy boarded the team bus he carried a bag emblazoned MONROEVILLE MAULERS. After giving up two hits, five walks and one run in his 3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬®-inning debut in Kansas City, Conroy said, "I enjoyed it. In high school the high hard ones were strikeouts. These guys hit it." Conroy, who averaged 2.26 strikeouts per inning this season for his high school team, did not fan anyone, but he did depart with a 5-1 lead and the A's held on for a 5-4 victory. Oakland's other 18-year-old pitcher, Mike Morgan, was sent to the minors after losing his third game without a win. More dependable was Steve Renko, who ended Oakland's 11-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory in Texas.
Dave Goltz notched Minnesota's only two wins in six games. Mike Marshall earned his ninth save as he locked up an 8-4 win over Detroit for Goltz. Then Goltz tossed a five-hitter and, with the aid of Craig Kusick's homer in the ninth, beat the White Sox 2-1.
KC 37-31 TEX 37-32 CAL 36-34 OAK 34-37 CHI 32-36 MINN 28-39 SEA 24-48
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
VIDA BLUE: While baffling New York 3-0 and Atlanta 9-0 on a pair of five-hitters, the San Francisco lefty struck out 17, walked three, allowed no extra-base hits and improved his record to 10 wins in 14 decisions.