Hordes of Indian fans wore buttons saying, NEW YORK'S THE BIG APPLE, BUT CLEVELAND'S A PLUM. It was all part of Plum Week, a promotional gimmick conjured up by The Plain Dealer. Alas, the week started off like a lemon, the Tribe (2-4) plummeting from second place to fourth after 5-2 and 1-0 losses to the Yankees. Goose Gossage picked up his 12th and 13th saves in those games for New York (2-4). Both victories went to newcomers—Dave Righetti, 22, in the first game and Gene Nelson, 20, in the second. Nelson is the youngest big-leaguer, born 32 days after the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela.
In his other start, Nelson was a 6-4 loser to the Orioles (4-2), largely because Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver "checked many reports before the game and decided he was not a power pitcher." Weaver also knew that his own Terry Crowley "is one of the best breaking-ball hitters in baseball." Despite being in a slump, Crowley was the Oriole DH against Nelson and had two homers and four RBIs. With two out in the ninth and an 0-2 count on lefthand-hitting Dave Revering of the Yanks, Reliever Sammy Stewart—an ambidextrous and fun-loving sort—took his glove off his left hand and put in on his right. Startled by Stewart's apparent intention to pitch lefthanded. Revering stepped out of the batter's box. When he stepped back in, Stewart put his glove back on his left hand and, on the next pitch, closed out his 4‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings of shutout work by getting Revering on an easy pop up.
Crowley gave first-place Baltimore a 6-5 victory over New York the next night when he singled in the tie-breaking run in the ninth. That win was set up by Doug DeCinces, who slugged two homers and drove in four runs. DeCinces also backed up Jim Palmer's five-hit, 10-1 defeat of the Yankees with a two-homer, five-RBI performance. Included in that barrage was Mark Belanger's first home run since September 1977. The Orioles then upended the Tigers 6-5 as DeCinces hit his seventh four-bagger in seven games.
Reliever Mark Clear of the Red Sox (3-3) struck out 11 batters in 7⅖ innings while getting his fifth, sixth and seventh wins without a loss. A three-run homer by Dwight Evans closed out a five-run outburst in the last of the ninth for Boston to even the score with Milwaukee at 6-6. Dave Stapleton finished off the Brewers 7-6 by singling in the 10th. Jerry Remy, who leads the league with a .358 average, contributed to that victory with his eighth bunt single of the season. Earlier, Carl Yastrzemski became the fourth player to appear in 3,000 games.
Ted Simmons of the Brewers (5-2), who started the week batting. 177, walloped a two-run homer in the ninth to knock off the Red Sox 5-4. Another round-tripper by Simmons and a grand slam by Roy Howell made Mike Caldwell a 7-1 winner over Detroit. A pair of six-hitters by Jack Morris of the Tigers (3-4) helped defeat the Brewers 12-3 and the Orioles 4-1. That gave Morris five straight complete-game wins and a 7-3 record.
John Mayberry and Roy Lee Jackson enabled the Blue Jays (4-2) to build a four-game winning streak. Mayberry homered as Dave Stieb beat California 3-1. He hit two over-the-fence shots and had five RBIs as Toronto jolted Oakland 6-5. Jackson got a win and a save in relief, yielding only one run in 8⅖ innings.
BALT 28-16 MIL 27-19 CLEV 23-17 NY 25-20 BOS 25-21 DET 23-24 TOR 16-32
Although languishing in sixth place, the Mariners (4-3) had some fun. Especially Lenny Randle, Julio Cruz and Gary Gray. When Amos Otis of the Royals topped a ball toward Randle, the third baseman knew his only hope was for the ball to go foul. So he got down on his hands and knees and tried to blow the ball across the foul line. Although the ball did roll foul, the umps ruled it a hit because of Randle's head's-down play. "I didn't blow it," Randle insisted. "I was just talking to the ball, 'Go foul. Go foul.' The Bird [Mark Fidrych] used to talk to the ball." Cruz, struggling to get his average up to .200, wore cotton in his ears on Monday to drown out the fans' boos. By week's end, the cotton was gone and Cruz' .429 spree had raised his average to .213. Cruz also stole six bases, giving him 30 in a row since he was last caught late last season. Gray, obtained in the off-season from the Mexican League for $25,000, came to Seattle with a lifetime average of .203, four homers and 11 RBIs in 62 games. Last Monday, Gray's pair of two-run homers decked K.C. 7-1. His hitting last week fattened his stats to 22 RBIs, 10 home runs and .299.
On the less happy A's (2-4), the least happy fella was Manager Billy Martin, who drew an indefinite suspension and undisclosed fine for bumping Umpire Terry Cooney and throwing handfuls of dirt at him.
Meanwhile, Chicago (page 20) and Texas (4-3) closed in on first place. Ranger Doc Medich improved his career record against Seattle to 9-0 with a 6-0 four-hitter, and Bill Stein set a league mark with his seventh straight pinch hit; it beat Minnesota 4-3. Gene Mauch replaced Jim Fregosi as skipper of the Angels (2-4) in a week in which Mike Witt, a 6'7" rookie righthander, defeated Toronto 2-1 and Chicago 7-4. Dan Quisenberry, who had been ineffective all season, got three saves for the Royals (4-3).
When it rains, it pours: While the last-place Twins (2-5) were blowing a 5-0 lead and losing to the Royals 6-5, the game was delayed because the sprinklers at Metropolitan Stadium came on and soaked the infield.
OAK 31-20 CHI 26-17 TEX 26-19 CAL 23-27 KC 15-25 SEA 17-30 MINN 14-32
Reliever Mark Littell of St. Louis (1-5) seemed ready to bedevil hitters again. Littell, out most of last season following elbow surgery, got his first save of 1981 with four strong innings during an 11—4 victory in Philadelphia. Littell also picked up his first big league hit by ending a 0-for-22 drought with a single. (He spent two seasons and part of two others with K.C. in the American League, whose DH rule has made pitchers nonhitters.)
Sparky Lyle of the Phillies (3-3), another transplanted AL reliever, got his first hit since 1972 in the same game. Philadelphia moved into first place for the first time since April 19. Lonnie Smith singled in the ninth to help down New York 7-5, Dick Davis had five RBIs during a 10-2 wipeout of the Cardinals and Steve Carlton won his eighth game without a loss by stopping St. Louis 6-1 on Sunday. But Right Fielder Bake McBride underwent surgery on his left knee and was put on the disabled list.
Joel Youngblood of New York (4-2), who was hitting .361, was sidelined for a few days with back spasms. Still, the Mets hit .281 and upped their team average to .263, third-best in the league. Rookie Mookie Wilson batted .478 and Dave Kingman hit five homers and had 12 RBIs.
Although Centerfielder Andre Dawson was sidelined most of the week with a pulled muscle, the Expos (5-1) perked up. Two wins went to Steve Rogers and three saves to Bill Lee.
The Cubs, bless 'em, made it 10—count 'em, 10—victories on the season by drubbing New York 10-3. Previously, Chicago (2-5) overcame Pittsburgh's 8-0 lead in the fourth and won 10-9 in 11 innings when Leon Durham singled, stole second and scored on Scot Thompson's single. There seemed to be a hex on East Division outfielders, the Cubs losing Steve Henderson for 15 days with an injured right hand and Durham for a week or more with a pulled hamstring in his right leg.
Fine pitching by Kent Tekulve, Pascual Perez and Rick Rhoden buoyed the Pirates (4-3). Tekulve ended a personal 10-game losing streak by stopping Chicago 6-4 in relief. Perez beat the Cubs 3-2. And Rhoden ran his record to 6-0 by defeating the Expos 3-2.
PHIL 27-19 MONT 26-19 ST.L 23-17 PITT 20-20 NY 15-27 CHI 10-33
Off to one of his best starts ever, Johnny Bench raised his average to .343 with two hits in a 7-4 Cincinnati victory over San Francisco. Gone with the win, though, was Bench, who fractured his left ankle sliding into second base. The Reds (4-2) had other woes. Dave Collins fumed when the club fined him $50 for tossing a ball to a fan in the stands. Dan Driessen was fined $100 for missing a team flight and, upset because Bench, before he was hurt, had bumped him out of his job at first base, asked to be traded. And a game in which the Reds had a 6-0 third-inning lead over the Giants was rained out. George Foster, who had a three-run homer washed out, helped his team gain ground on the first-place Dodgers by slugging three home runs that counted and driving in 10 runs.
"It was a pretty good circus, wasn't it?" said Vern Ruhle, who was credited with a save when the Astros (4-2) beat the Giants 9-8 in a 14-inning game that P.T. Barnum would have loved. It was a three-ring affair: 11 pitchers (six of them Astros) were guilty of such misdemeanors as two wild pitches, a balk and a hit batsman; the fielders made nine errors, three by Houston Shortstop Craig Reynolds, who had committed only one all season; and the batters pounded out 32 hits, 21 by the winners. There was also a sideshow. The Astros thought they had victory in hand after scoring three times in the 13th, but they lost their lead in the bottom of the inning when Umpire Frank Pulli mistakenly ruled that a drive by Milt May of the Giants had cleared the fence in right before caroming back onto the field. Thus, May was given a three-run homer, and it remained for Terry Puhl to drive in the decisive run in the 14th. And what good is a circus without a clown? That would be Joaquin Andujar, who won despite giving up May's homer, the first off Houston pitching in 17 games. Instead of taking a customary victory drink, Andujar poured a gallon of milk over his head. Houston also beat San Diego on successive 1-0 shutouts—first by Nolan Ryan, with relief aid from Joe Sambito, and then by Bob Knepper. Knepper's fourth shutout of the year reduced his ERA to 1.03.
Fernando Valenzuela's ERA continued to rise, reaching 1.88 after he was shelled for seven runs in 3⅖ innings during a 9-4 loss in Atlanta (3-3). Gaylord Perry helped finish off the Dodger lefty with a two-run single and achieved his 293rd career win. With Claudell Washington nursing a sore foot, Terry Harper took his place in rightfield and homered in the ninth to down the Dodgers 3-2.
Pedro Guerrero of Los Angeles (3-3) was also an able replacement. When Ken Landreaux came down with the flu, Guerrero filled in at center, made two superb catches, homered and had four RBIs during a 5-2 victory over the Reds.
After losing two fly balls in the lights and going 0 for 3 at the plate, Rightfielder Jack Clark of the Giants (2-4) got his act together. In the top of the eighth, Clark leaped above the wall to take a home run away from the Astros' Jose Cruz. Clark then singled home the tie-breaking run in the bottom of the inning to make Vida Blue a 3-1 winner.
San Diego (2-4) went 27 innings without scoring, 35 innings without an extra-base hit and all week without a homer. But on Saturday, the Padres breezed past the Braves 11-1, rapping out 18 hits.
LA 33-15 CIN 27-20 SF 25-25 HOUS 24-24 ATL 22-23 SD 19-29
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GARY MATTHEWS: The Philadelphia left-fielder, who was picked up in a trade with Atlanta two weeks before the season got under way, batted .600, drove across seven runs, slammed four doubles and scored three times.