Baseball's gimpiest division boasted enough calamities to fill a soap opera. Cleveland (3-3), which has lost Bert Blyleven for the season and has Alan Bannister on the disabled list, had three ailing pitchers: Rick Waits (sore knee), John Denny (bum shoulder) and Ed Whitson (wrist problems). Carl Yastrzemski of Boston (3-3) had to play center for the first time since 1980. That was because Reid Nichols went on the DL with a pulled groin muscle and Dwight Evans, who had played 201 consecutive games, pulled a hamstring and was reduced to being a DH. Manager Sparky Anderson of Detroit (4-3) had surgery on his sun-blistered lower lip. A shoulder ailment put Milt Wilcox on the DL, but Larry Herndon missed only one game after slicing a finger while opening clams. Then came a call to the clubhouse from one disabled Tiger (Dave Rozema) to another (Kirk Gibson). Rozema was adrift on Lake St. Clair in a boat he co-owns with Gibson when he made a ship-to-shore SOS call to find out how to get the balky engine started. Fine pitching kept the Tigers from sinking further while on dry land: Dan Petry beat Chicago 1-0 and Larry Pashnick stopped Texas 3-1.
Milwaukee, Baltimore and New York rose above minor travails. When hot-hitting Cecil Cooper of the first-place Brewers (2-4) needed a night off to rest a bruised knee, Don Money put on a glove for the first time in five weeks, made two fielding gems at first base, slugged two homers and had four RBIs to help defeat the Twins 10-4. The Orioles (4-2) got along fine without Manager Earl Weaver, who was suspended for a week and fined $2,000 for "physical contact" he made the previous week while arguing with Umpire Terry Cooney. With Coach Cal Ripken Sr. taking over for Weaver, the Birds won four of five games. Benny Ayala's two-run pinch double in the eighth took care of California 8-7. Jim Palmer had eight strikeouts, the most for him in one game in four years, as he defeated Oakland 2-1. And the Orioles over-took the A's 5-4, Al Bumbry tying the game in the ninth with a single and Floyd Rayford ending it in the 13th when he homered. Cal Ripken Jr. batted .459.
Jerry Mumphrey of the Yankees (4-3) won two games with home runs, one a blast in the ninth that finished off the Angels 6-5. In all, Mumphrey had six ribbies and hit .400, and Dave Winfield drove in 10 runs. That helped overshadow the latest controversy on the team, one concerning a special practice for seven players who were being disciplined for their shoddy play during a 6-5 loss to Seattle. "It's degrading, but you can't let it mess up your head," said Willie Randolph of the workout, which was called by owner George Steinbrenner.
The Blue Jays (4-3) were 2½ games out of sixth place. They stole 10 bases and got a pair of victories from both Luis Leal and Dave Stieb. Each squared his record, Leal at 7-7 by beating Kansas City 4-2 and Chicago 7-1, and Stieb at 10-10 as he subdued the Royals 9-2 and the White Sox 8-1.
MIL 55-39 BOS 55-40 BALT 51-41 DET 49-45 NY 47-45 CLEV 46-46 TOR 45-50
Willie Wilson's 12th career homer in 639 games was his ninth inside-the-park job, and it helped Kansas City (3-3) defeat Toronto 9-7. After the Brewers broke open a scoreless game with three runs in the top of the ninth, the Royals scored four times in the bottom half, with the winner coming on a suicide squeeze by Frank White. By going 3-3 California (page 16) retained its two-game lead over Kansas City.
Reliever Bill Caudill of Seattle (3-3) got his ninth and 10th wins, both in New York, as he gave up just two runs in 6‚Öì innings during a pair of 6-5 games. Caudill, who was Yankee property this spring for what he estimates as "22 minutes," requested that when he retires "George Steinbrenner send me a uniform with one pinstripe on it." Rookie Mike Moore blanked Cleveland 9-0, and Richie Zisk hit .500 and had eight RBIs.
Three nifty pitching performances gave Chicago (4-3) a lift. Dennis Lamp beat Detroit 6-0, Britt Burns stopped Toronto 3-2, and Reliever Salome Barojas yielded only one hit in 5‚Öî innings and won 9-3 when the White Sox scored six runs in the 12th inning to wipe out the Tigers.
After a ninth-inning error cost his A's (2-4) a 5-4 loss to the Indians, Manager Billy Martin said, "This is the lowest I've felt in my whole life." Cliff Johnson's first steal of the year and ninth of his 10-year career left him only 91 behind the season total of Rickey Henderson, who stole six times.
Dave Schmidt of Texas (2-6) has a license plate on his car that says TUF-2-HIT. Of late, Schmidt has been exactly that, allowing only two earned runs in his last 35‚Öì innings. Last week Schmidt came in from the bullpen to nail down both Ranger victories.
Three saves by Ron Davis and a rare inside-the-park grand slam by Tom Brunansky were big news in Minnesota (4-2). And Kent Hrbek, whose .381 week raised his average to .334, improved his chances of breaking the league rookie record of .343 set in 1929 by Detroit's Dale Alexander.
CAL 54-42 KC 51-43 CHI 49-45 SEA 49-47 OAK 40-58 TEX 37-56 MINN 33-64
"It's the same as with Fernando. You know you can hit him, but you can't." That appraisal came from Gary Carter of the Expos after he and his teammates had been bamboozled by Vicente Romo of the Dodgers (3-3). Romo, who hadn't won in the majors in eight years and three days, gave up only three hits while defeating Montreal 2-1 as he "used mainly my fastball and forkball." The 39-year-old righthander was recently brought up from the Mexican League, where he had been 100-62 during the past eight seasons, including five shutouts this year. Steve Howe, who picked up his ninth save by going the final two innings in relief of Romo, got No. 10 in a 3-2 defeat of the Phillies. Bob Welch worked the first eight innings of that game, striking out a career-high 11 as he improved his record to 10-7. Jerry Reuss also won for the 10th time, beating the Expos 10-1 with the support of Pedro Guerrero, who drove in five runs. "He's developed what I call a 'dead-fish' ball," said San Francisco Catcher Milt May after Atlee Hammaker defeated Montreal 5-2 for his eighth win. "It's not really a changeup, but it gets him a lot of groundouts." Rich Gale of the Giants (3-2) defeated the Mets 5-1 and the Expos 3-2.
Resourceful Phil Niekro of Atlanta (3-3) also came up with something different. When his trusty knuckleball mysteriously deserted him, Niekro kept Cardinal batters offstride with a screwball as he won 4-1. Niekro (9-3) next was a 4-3 victor over Pittsburgh as Atlanta ended a 28-inning scoring drought with four runs in the seventh. For the division-leading Braves that was their 28th comeback win and, as in Niekro's first outing of the week, Gene Garber got the save, his 18th.
John Montefusco went seven strong innings and Luis DeLeon the final two as San Diego (3-3) knocked off Philadelphia 2-0 on two hits. It was The Count's seventh victory in his last eight decisions. During the off-season the Padres shortened and lowered their outfield fences, a move that hasn't paid off as expected. Opponents had an 8-3 home run advantage in San Diego last week to increase their season's edge to 50-26. But the most distressing news for the Padres was that rookie Outfielder Alan Wiggins was arrested on charges of possessing cocaine. Wiggins volunteered to enter a drug-treatment center.
Although the Astros (1-5) got the type of quality relief pitching they have sorely lacked—one run allowed in 13‚Öî innings spanning three games—it was to no avail. That was because Houston starters were cuffed around early in those games. The offense didn't help, either. Despite outhitting the Cardinals 10-7, 11-5 and 12-8, the Astros lost 6-2, 5-1 and 4-3, respectively, as they stranded a total of 27 runners.
"I think we're very uninteresting," said Russ Nixon when he replaced John McNamara as skipper of the Reds (2-4). Well, Frank Pastore helped make the team a little more dramatic by winning for the first time in 10 weeks, 5-2 over Chicago. So did Paul Householder, who batted .369 and walloped a pair of home runs.
ATL 57-37 SD 53-43 LA 51-47 SF 46-51 HOUS 41-54 CIN 36-60
Chicago's M&M&Ms—Jerry Morales, Bob Molinaro and Keith Moreland—knocked the candy coating off the ball, so to speak, and won games for the Cubs (3-3). Morales said his recent two-week stay in the minors to rehabilitate an aching knee was so long that, "I got gray hairs in my mustache." Gray hairs and all, Morales beat Houston 6-5 with a run-scoring pinch single in the 10th. It was a pinch three-run double in the eighth by Molinaro that did in the Astros 5-3. And Moreland's three-run homer in the eighth upended the Reds 7-5. Leon Durham further sweetened the Cub attack by going on a .375 tear.
Pete Falcone of New York (2-3) did the job as both a starter and reliever. Three days after beating San Francisco 6-2 with the help of four innings of shutout relief by Jesse Orosco, Falcone came out of the bullpen to work a scoreless ninth and save a 4-3 triumph in San Diego. The Mets won by scoring twice in their half of the ninth. Bob Bailor, who earlier in the season had beaten Padre Reliever Gary Lucas with a sacrifice fly in one game and a double in another, caught him off guard this time and drove in the decisive run with a two-out bunt single.
Philadelphia and St. Louis kept battling for first place. Three homers by Mike Schmidt and two by Bo Diaz helped the Phillies (4-2) stay on top by one percentage point. So did Dick Ruthven's 7-1 victory in San Diego, where he ended his 0-for-36 batting slump with three hits. And on Sunday, Steve Carlton outdueled Jerry Reuss of the Dodgers 1-0 for his 13th victory. The Cardinals (4-2), who had lost to Joe Niekro of the Astros eight times in a row over five seasons, finally hung a defeat on him, 6-2. Steve Mura pitched a five-hit, 8-0 win over Atlanta.
With Dale Berra continuing his batting surge, Pittsburgh (5-1) moved into third. "Dale is one of those players with heart," said Manager Chuck Tanner as he explained why he stuck with Berra even when his average fell to .183 on June 7. Since then Berra has hit .345 and raised his average to .269. Last week Berra batted .369 and homered twice. He also stole home during Rick Rhoden's 6-0 shutout of the Braves, making a delayed dash to the plate on the back end of Omar Moreno's swipe of second. Willie Stargell, who will retire at the end of the season, hit his third pinch homer of the year in his final at bat in Cincinnati to defeat the Reds 3-2.
Wallace Johnson's single broke an 0-for-18 string by Montreal (2-4) pinch hitters and touched off an 11th-inning rally that toppled the Dodgers 4-1. Tim Wallach climaxed that uprising with a three-run double and Jeff Reardon nailed down the win with his 15th save. Steve Rogers, who went 10 innings, picked up the victory, making him 8-0 on the road and 12-4 overall. Al Oliver hit two home runs and now has 17, three short of his alltime high in 1973. Oliver credited "a good friend, a psychiatrist in Dallas" for his increased power. "Last winter he said that if I put my mind to it I could hit for both average and power," said Oliver, whose .3174 hitting led the league. Houston's Ray Knight was at .3168.
PHIL 54-41 ST.L 55-42 PITT 50-44 MONT 49-46 NY 44-52 CHI 40-59
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ROBIN YOUNT: The Milwaukee shortstop batted .560 to rank second in the league at .337, hit four home runs (for a total of 19) to become No. 1 in slugging (.616) and got six runs batted in for a total of 67.