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THE WEEK (June 15-21)


New York (7-0) waltzed to a 7½-game lead, getting strike-up-the-band hitting from Graig Nettles (four homers, 10 RBIs), Reggie Jackson (four homers, eight RBIs) and Jim Spencer (two homers, 11 RBIs). Ron Guidry was humming, too, as he beat the Angels 5-0.

Jorge Orta provided basso profundo-type hitting for the Indians (4-3), tying a league record of six hits for a nine-inning game and stretching his streak to nine straight safeties before being stopped. Altogether, Orta batted .452. Mike Hargrove hit five doubles, and Miguel Dilone batted .471 and stole five bases, giving him 19 since joining the team on May 9. Dan Spillner and Len Barker joined John Denny as seven-game winners, the first time Cleveland has had such a trio this early since the Big Three days of Herb Score, Bob Lemon and Early Wynn in 1955. Further encouragement came when Wayne Garland pitched his first complete game in a year to beat Chicago 5-3.

Steve Stone's pitching and pinch hits by Lenn Sakata and John Lowenstein helped the Orioles (6-1) jump from sixth place to fourth. Stone fanned 18 batters as he fired two five-hitters to beat California 5-3 and Seattle 9-0. Sakata's single in the ninth defeated Oakland 3-2, and Lowenstein's hit tied the A's at 3-3 the next day. Lowenstein's theatrics did not end there, however. On the same play, he set up the winning run by zipping safely into second when First Baseman Jeff Newman cut off an outfield relay and hit Lowenstein in the back of the neck with a throw. As Lowenstein was carried off the field on a stretcher he got a rousing cheer from Baltimore fans by sitting up and clenching his fists in a Rocky Balboa-type salute.

Ben Oglivie of the Brewers (4-4), the league leader in homers, with 18, and in RBIs, with 49, hit a fence-clearing shot and drove in three runs as the Rangers succumbed 10-4. Moose Haas and Lary Sorensen earned their seventh victories by stopping Kansas City, the former winning 10-5 as Dick Davis had four RBIs, and the latter prevailing 5-1 as Don Money homered twice.

Jack Morris and Milt Wilcox of the Tigers (4-2) also won their seventh games: Morris stopped Milwaukee 3-0, and Wilcox beat the Brewers 6-5 and Chicago 4-1. Al Cowens was suspended for seven games and fined an undisclosed sum by League President Lee MacPhail for charging and grabbing Chicago's Ed Farmer apparently because the reliever had broken his jaw with a pitch in May 1979. Last week's fracas occurred when Cowens hit a ground ball to shortstop and, instead of running to first, raced to the mound and bloodied Farmer's nose.

Even with Fred Lynn hitting .417, Jim Rice slugging three homers and Rick Burleson batting .419, the Red Sox (4-3) struggled. During three losses, Boston pitchers were bombed for 35 runs and 51 hits. The week's most severe loss came in a 4-2 defeat to California on Saturday when Rice was hit by a pitch on his left wrist. He'll be out five to six weeks.

Toronto (3-4) replaced Detroit in last place. The Blue Jays, who were early-season terrors, have lost 19 of 30 games.

NY 43-21 MIL 35-28 BOS 34-30 BALT 34-31 CLEV 32-30 DET 30-30 TOR 30-32


Clint Hurdle of the Royals (3-4) insists that his sudden transformation from a perennial popup to a veritable Popeye stems from his decision last spring to shun all batting tips and to adopt the philosophy of the comic-strip character: "I Yam what I Yam an' tha's all I Yam." By hitting .500 during his last 15 games, Hurdle has raised his average to .331. At week's end the Royals were the only club in the West above .500, and they had opened their lead to a whopping eight games.

For one brief day it was as if California (2-5) had—Shazam!—been transformed from a tail-ender to a world-beater, tying or breaking six team records while snapping a nine-game losing streak in a 20-2 thrashing of Boston. Playing the role of Captain Marvel was 5'5¼" Freddie Patek, who had three home runs, a double and seven RBIs, and received a standing ovation from the Fenway fans after his third blast. "It's hard to think something like this happened to a guy like me," said Patek, who averaged three homers in 12 previous seasons. Overall, the Angels had six homers among their 26 hits, and 52 total bases. Frank Tanana, who had been struggling all year, went the distance, tossing a five-hitter. Rod Carew, who lifted his average to .346 with a .520 week, had three hits as California again beat Boston, 4-2.

Bud Harrelson of the Rangers (4-3), whose six homers in 15 seasons made him even less of a menace than Patek, hit his first four-bagger in three years. That, plus Doc Medich's six-hitter, took care of Milwaukee 8-1.

Butch Wynegar was the big gun for the Twins (4-2). Wynegar batted .500 and had three hits in both of Geoff Zahn's victories, 4-0 in Toronto and 3-2 against Cleveland. Jose Morales' grand slam beat the Tigers 5-1, and rookie Doug Corbett lowered his ERA to 1.95 when he held off the Blue Jays 8-6 with 4‚Öì innings of shutout relief.

The White Sox, A's and Mariners all played like Charlie Brown's All-Stars. Two newcomers gave Chicago (1-5) its only respite, Todd Cruz singling across two runs in the eighth to make a winner of Lamarr Hoyt, who hurled 2⅖ innings of scoreless relief to shut down Cleveland 5-3. Oakland (1-6) won 11-8 in Boston as Mickey Klutts doubled three times. Seattle (1-6) narrowly averted a winless week, defeating Baltimore 3-1 when Ted Cox backed up Floyd Bannister's three-hit pitching with a three-run homer in the ninth.

KC 39-26 CHI 30-33 TEX 30-35 OAK 30-36 SEA 29-37 MINN 27-37 CAL 23-40


Houston (6-1) pitchers did not let minor troubles get them down as they maintained their team ERA lead and held opponents to a .190 batting average. J.R. Richard was gunning for his fourth straight shutout, but after striking out eight Cubs in five innings and having his scoreless-inning string ended at 31, he removed himself because of a "dead arm." Joaquin Andujar gave up just one hit the rest of the way to lock up the ninth victory for Richard, who explained that his arm weariness was "nothing to worry about." Joe Niekro's lament after blanking St. Louis 3-0 was that he had "only a fair knuckleball." And Nolan Ryan, after yielding one hit to the Cardinals in seven innings, came out because he felt ill. Joe Sambito finished the 2-0 triumph with two hitless innings and in the next two days added his seventh and eighth saves. One starter who could not find anything to complain about was Vern Ruhle, who beat Chicago 2-1 and then Pittsburgh 4-2 for the Astros' 15th win in 17 games and their 14th in a row at home. With a 2.59 ERA overall, the Houston staff has a chance to finish with the best figure since Baltimore's 2.53 in 1972.

Instead of going into a rage when his team played poorly, as he has in the past, Manager Tom Lasorda calmly told the Dodgers (5-2) they were capable of playing better ball. In a similarly workmanlike manner, Los Angeles promptly rallied for three straight wins. Against the Expos the Dodgers overcame a 7-1 deficit to win 8-7; then Joe Ferguson hit a pinch homer in the 10th for a 5-3 victory. With two out, nobody on base in the ninth and New York ahead 3-2, Los Angeles pulled out a 4-3 victory as Jay Johnstone and Steve Garvey singled and Dusty Baker doubled both home. The Dodgers got shutouts from Bob Welch, 1-0 over Montreal, and Jerry Reuss, 5-0 over New York.

Manager Dave Bristol of the Giants (6-1) used sterner tactics than Lasorda, blackening John Montefusco's eye in a one-punch clubhouse fight. The pitcher had heatedly complained because Bristol yanked him—after he loaded the bases with two walks and a single when he was three outs away from an 8-2 victory over the Mets. San Francisco eventually won 8-5. Jack Clark's .464 hitting helped the Giants climb from sixth place to fourth, as did Bob Knepper's 3-0 shutout of the Mets.

Manager Jerry Coleman of San Diego (4-3) got tough, too, but he still couldn't keep his team from sliding into the cellar. After the Padres missed eight signs in two days, Coleman instituted a $50 fine for further goof-ups. Although Randy Jones and Rick Wise, the team's best starting pitchers, went on the 21-day disabled list with rib-cage injuries, the Padres won four of their next five games. Reliever Rollie Fingers pitched 6⅖ scoreless innings while notching his sixth and seventh victories and eighth save. And for the first time in 23 days and 25 attempts, a San Diego catcher gunned down a would-be base stealer when Bill Fahey nailed a runner at second.

Cincinnati (2-5) labored for its two wins and dropped seven games behind. The Reds needed back-to-back home runs in the ninth by Johnny Bench and Ray Knight to defeat Pittsburgh 4-3. And they required a five-run seventh for Frank Pastore to beat the Cardinals 8-5 for his ninth victory.

Atlanta (5-3) swept three games from Pittsburgh, but had plenty of help from the Pirates, who committed key errors in both games of a 3-2, 5-4 doubleheader loss. Bill Nahorodny took advantage in the ninth inning of the opener with a three-run double. Atlanta gained another one-run victory the next day, winning 4-3 as Jeff Burroughs slammed his first homer in 11 months. The Braves also beat the Cardinals 6-3, Chris Chambliss driving in five runs, and defeated the Cubs 8-0 behind the three-hit pitching of Doyle Alexander.

HOUS 40-23 LA 38-27 CIN 34-31 SF 30-35 ATL 28-35 SD 29-37


East is East and West is West, and last week the twain met. But for the Eastern clubs, which lost 28 of 43 games, it was a twain wreck. Only the Cubs and Phillies (both 4-3) had winning records. Chicago regained fourth place as Jerry Martin homered three times and Bruce Sutter saved four games with 8⅖ innings of scoreless relief. Philadelphia beat the Dodgers 3-2 on Manny Trillo's 12th inning double and 6-5 on Greg Gross' eighth-inning pinch single.

After John Candelaria defeated Houston 4-1 and Tim Foli drove in three runs to beat Cincinnati 5-3, Pittsburgh (2-6) collapsed, four losses coming by one run.

The Expos (2-5) floundered even though Warren Cromartie continued his hot hitting (he has batted .405 during the last 18 games) and Rodney Scott stole two bases to raise his number of thefts to 21. Despite its reputation as a strong late-inning club, Montreal was out-scored 17-4 in the final three innings of last week's games.

The Mets (0-7) began a 15-game road trip that Lee Mazzilli said would "show us what we're made of." What they were made of was hitters who batted .222 and fielders who were hardly better. During an 8-5 loss to the Giants, the Mets uncorked four wild pitches, made four errors, bungled a pickoff, missed a cutoff throw and let a foul drop untouched.

Catcher Terry Kennedy of the Cardinals (3-4) doubled in two runs in the 13th to beat the Reds 10-9. Two days later Catcher Ted Simmons doubled in the ninth to upend Atlanta 3-2. In an effort to use both players, Manager Whitey Herzog shifted the 6'4", 220-pound Kennedy to leftfield, a move that paid off when he hit a pair of three-run homers to defeat Cincinnati 7-5. Still, all was not well. John Fulgham and Keith Hernandez argued on the team bus in Cincinnati and then fought briefly after getting off at their hotel. When Herzog heard that some players warned reporters not to write about the episode, he said, "If you see it, you've got to write about it." Herzog also scolded his team during a clubhouse meeting and defended Fulgham, who went on the disabled list on Friday because of arm trouble. Some teammates had accused Fulgham of dogging it, a charge Herzog put down by saying, "He's one of the most competitive guys on this team."

MONT 35-26 PHIL 33-27 PITT 34-30 CHI 27-33 NY 27-35 ST.L 24-40


TOBY HARRAH: The Cleveland third baseman drove in seven runs during a 14-5 drubbing of Minnesota, doubled in the 15th to beat the Twins 4-3 and finished the week with 11 RBIs, two steals and a .500 average.