Picky, picky. That was what the western teams were during a week of interdivisional combat in which they overwhelmed the eastern clubs 24-15. Houston and Cincinnati hitters picked apart the St. Louis staff for 40 runs. Meanwhile, opposing pitchers picked on Keith Hernandez of the Cardinals (2-5), who went 0 for 16. The Padres picked on the Mets (2-5) by hitting routine balls to them; the New Yorkers made eight errors in three games in San Diego. Los Angeles, which the previous week had sent Scout Eddie Libertore to check out the Philadelphia (3-3) pitchers, stole seven bases on them in three games. Three came against Dick Ruthven, which is nothing new; during the past two seasons runners have been safe in 32 of 33 tries against him, including 23 in a row.
Eastern teams, though, had some upbeat moments. The Phillies scored in only two innings of a three-game series in L.A., but that was enough to beat the Dodgers 9-3 in one of those games. Pete Rose tied a league record with his ninth five-hit game that night. A two-run homer in the 10th by Bo Diaz made Steve Carlton a 3-1 winner in San Diego. On Sunday, Mike Krukow's four-hitter and Mike Schmidt's two-run homer, his first since coming off the disabled list, cooled off the Padres 3-0. Dickie Noles of the Cubs (2-4) beat the Reds 6-0 with a one-hitter. Dave Kingman of the Mets hit his 300th career home run. The Pirates (3-4) walloped 12 homers and batted .296. Jason Thompson, who had 20 RBIs in the last 18 games, drove in 12 runs and Tony Pena eight. And for the first time since July 1979, the Expos (3-3) won at Dodger Stadium, 4-2 and 13-1. The latter win went to Steve Rogers, who earlier had beaten the Giants 3-2.
ST.L 14-9 MONT 11-8 NY 11-12 PITT 8-12 CHI 8-15 PHIL 7-14
"During our win streak we stressed not getting overexcited. And when you're in a losing streak, it's the same thing, just in reverse. You have to know how to lose, too." So said Manager Joe Torre of the Braves (4-3), who started the season 13-0 and then lost five straight. Atlanta fans, displaying none of the equanimity that Torre seeks from his players, whooped and hollered as homers by Claudell Washington, Dale Murphy and Bob Horner helped beat Pittsburgh 7-6 and end the five-game skid. For the week, Murphy had three round-trippers and 10 RBIs. Washington, who batted .423, homered for a l-O victory over the Cubs, who were held in check by Steve Bedrosian and Reliever Gene Garber. The day before, Garber was the winner and Rick Camp the saver during a 3-0 defeat of Chicago. Those were the Braves' first back-to-back shutouts since April of 1978.
"Our bats have been singing," said Manager Dick Williams of the Padres (3-3). Pitcher Tim Lollar had one of the most melodious sticks, slugging his second home run of the season while shutting out New York 6-0. For the season Lollar had six hits in 12 at bats, was 2-0 and had a 2.27 ERA. Five innings of shutout relief by Eric Show made him an 8-5 victor over the Mets, and a carbon copy performance by Luis DeLeon enabled him to gain a 9-6 triumph over the Phils. San Diego's relief corps, the youngest and least experienced in the majors, had a 7-1 record, seven saves and a l.44 ERA for the year.
Young pitchers buoyed the Giants (5-2), too. "I know people are saying that maybe this is the first time in major league history that an established team has changed its entire rotation, but we hope it works," Manager Frank Robinson said. Last week it worked as San Francisco, which had traded away 1981 starters Doyle Alexander, Vida Blue, Alan Ripley and Ed Whitson, moved up from sixth to fourth. Three members of the revamped staff won: Bill Laskey, 24, defeated Montreal 7-0 on three hits; Alan Fowlkes, 23, beat the Expos 7-3; and Atlee Hammaker, 24, knocked off the Mets 6-3. And a three-run, last-of-the-ninth pinch homer by Reggie Smith jarred New York 5-4. Greg Minton preserved a 4-3 Sunday triumph over the Mets despite giving up his first home run in 269‚Öì innings since September 1978, a drive by John Stearns.
Jerry Reuss of the Dodgers (3-3) won twice. The first victory was his second shutout in a row, 3-0 over the Phillies. He owed his other win, 2-1 over Montreal, to Jorge Orta, who hit a two-run pinch homer in the seventh. One hit was all Burt Hooton allowed while shutting out Philly 4-0.
Dave Concepcion highlighted the Cincinnati (4-2) attack by going on a .455 tear. But the biggest blow was a grand slam by Dan Driessen that helped Mario Soto coast past the Cardinals 10-1.
All bad things must come to an end, or at least they did for the Astros (5-2). Nolan Ryan chalked up his first two victories. Jose Cruz hit his first three homers. Tony Scott broke out of the batting doldrums with a .520 week. And, after a loss in Pittsburgh dropped Houston's record there to 30-108, Don Sutton beat the Pirates 4-3 and Ryan defeated them 6-3.
ATL 17-6 SD 14-7 LA 11-12 SF 11-12 CIN 10-12 HOUS 11-14
Whenever Ted Williams speaks, batters listen up. Rookie Wade Boggs of the Red Sox (6-1) sought advice from Williams, who was on hand for an oldtimers' game, and was told, "Don't worry and don't chase bad pitches. Hit the ball where it's pitched. And wait for your pitch." Though Williams didn't follow his own advice, going 0 for 2, Boggs singled in the 12th and scored the run that defeated Texas 6-5. That gave Boston an 8-3 record in one-run games. The Sox, whose eight-game winning streak helped them equal the club record of 13 April victories, had an easy time of it only when Chuck Rainey beat the White Sox 5-0, when Mike Torrez held the Rangers to four hits as he won 7-1 and when Dennis Eckersley blanked Texas 6-0.
Two reasons the Tigers (3-3) are off to a fast start is their defense and the pitching of Jack Morris. Detroit, which leads the league with a .989 fielding percentage, made only three errors, while Morris won for the fourth straight time when he held off the Twins 5-2.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic so far was that the Blue Jays (4-2), who batted .335 last week, were first in the league with a .286 average. Buck Martinez, who used to play for Kansas City, had seven RBIs in four games there. Dave Stieb beat the Royals 7-0 on a five-hitter for his first win.
Several other players pulled out of tailspins. Gorman Thomas of Milwaukee (3-2) slammed his first two home runs of the season. Gary Roenicke of the Orioles (3-3), who had fanned 12 times during an 0-for-20 slump, hit a three-run homer to help Jim Palmer gain his first win, 9-4 over the Angels. Other first-time winners were Scott McGregor of Baltimore, Tommy John of 3-3 New York (page 40) and Lary Sorensen of Cleveland (2-4). The Indians, however, lost two players in one game when Catcher Chris Bando sustained a broken right index finger and Bert Blyleven had a recurrence of the elbow miseries that dogged him last season. But Cleveland runners remained healthy, eight of them combining for 13 stolen bases.
BOS 15-7 DET 14-9 MIL 11-8 NY 9-11 TOR 9-13 CLEV 8-12 BALT 7-13
"This was Just an example that if you keep fighting and don't give up, you don't know what's going to happen," said Gaylord Perry of the Mariners (2-4). What happened was that Perry, down 2-1 after one inning in New York, got his 299th victory when Seattle won 6-3 by scoring five runs off Goose Gossage in the final two innings. Earlier in the week, during a five-run Seattle 11th that finished off Cleveland 7-4, rookie Jim Maler doubled in the go-ahead run. That helped Maler tie a club record with 16 RBIs in April.
During his first nine seasons, Geoff Zahn of the Angels (3-3) had an undistinguished 69-78 record and a 3.91 ERA. So why was he suddenly 4-0 and 1.05? The difference is that Zahn's left knee was strengthened by off-season surgery and that he now has a slider to keep hitters off balance. Zahn last week baffled New York 2-0. Bob Boone had two game-winning singles, and Don Baylor, after twice failing to bunt a runner along in the 13th inning, jolted Baltimore 6-4 with a two-run home run.
Unlike Baylor, Cesar Geronimo of the Royals (3-3) bunted safely. With Frank White on third and Onix Concepcion on first and two down in the last of the eighth of a 7-7 game with Toronto, K.C. Manager Dick Howser called for a daring double steal. Instead, in an even more daring move, Geronimo, who had spotted Blue Jay Third Baseman Rance Mulliniks playing deep, dropped down a bunt. Geronimo legged it out and White sped home with the decisive run. Geronimo, who hadn't been at bat until last week, led off the next night with a home run against the Blue Jays and added two singles in a second straight 8-7 victory. As had happened the night before, Grant Jackson came out of the bullpen to pick up the win, and Dan Quisenberry again earned the save, his seventh. Hal McRae had 11 RBIs and during two games at Fenway Park rattled hits in all directions—a homer to left, a triple to left center, a home run to right and a double to right center.
Oakland (5-1) climbed above .500 as Rickey Henderson stole eight bases and boosted his major league-leading total to 25. Dan Meyer drove in four runs to help beat Baltimore 9-6, and Jeff Newman had four RBIs to support Rick Langford's three-hit, 8-0 whitewashing of Cleveland.
For Chicago (3-5), Ron LeFlore hit his first homer in 399 at bats since joining the White Sox, the first grand slam of his nine-year career; Lamarr Hoyt, who had been 3-0 in relief, earned a spot in the starting rotation when he raised his record to 5-0 by beating Milwaukee 11-2 and Detroit 10-3 as a starter; and Salome Barojas, who earlier had notched his sixth save, gave up his first earned run after 14‚Öî innings.
Gary Gaetti homered twice for the Twins (2-3). His first blast helped Pete Redfern defeat Detroit 4-2 and his second came as Roger Erickson beat Milwaukee 7-4.
All the Rangers (0-5) needed were two outs to defeat the Red Sox 5-4 and break a seven-game losing streak. Trouble was, Texas had two third basemen playing out of position because of numerous lineup shuffles—Buddy Bell at short and Bill Stein at second. With the bases jammed in the bottom of the 12th, Bell fielded a grounder and pegged the ball to Stein for a forceout. One out to go. Stein's relay to first, though, went into the Boston dugout. That error, the Rangers' ninth of the week, allowed two Bosox runs to score and made Texas a 6-5 loser. The Texans did not err on Sunday. They also did not score, being done in by Boston 6-0. That made it nine consecutive losses.
CAL 16-8 KC 12-9 CH 12-9 OAK 13-11 SEA 11-14 MINN 9-15 TEX 6-13
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JASON THOMPSON: The Pirate first baseman slugged five home runs, drove in 12 runs, scored eight times and raised his batting average for the season to .338 by getting 11 base hits in 27 at bats (.407).