Big talk is a major industry in the Lone Star State, but even Texans guffawed when Manager Billy Martin said his Rangers would "fight for the pennant." Last week, though, the Rangers won five straight and tied the A's for first place. The Rangers, who lead the league in batting at .279, hammered together an eight-run uprising that gave Ferguson Jenkins a 10-2 win over Minnesota. And when the hitting tailed off, Steve Hargan throttled the Twins 1-0 on two hits.
Oakland won five of seven as Reggie Jackson smacked four homers, drove in 11 runs and hit .429. Also chipping in was Sal Ban-do, who helped beat the White Sox 4-3 with a two-run homer and clipped the Angels with a 10th-inning hit.
At 6'2" and 215 pounds Bob Oliver of the Angels is the biggest third baseman in the league. In a 5-3 win over the Twins he showed quickness and agility in the field and hit two homers. But after pushing their season record to 7-2—the best start in the club's 14-year history—the Angels stumbled and wound up the week with a 3-4 mark.
When Joe Decker's control went awry last year he was spared a trip to the minors only because Twin President Calvin Griffith insisted, "He can be another Nolan Ryan." Last week Decker outpitched Ryan by fanning 11 men in 6‚Öì innings before tiring and giving way to Bill Campbell, who preserved a 6-0 win.
When the Royals played in Texas they were listed in the program as the "Kansas City Chiefs." Fielding about as well as the Chiefs might have, they lost twice to the Rangers. Before Saturday's game against the White Sox the Royals were urged by Manager Jack McKeon not to be "mentally lazy." Playing alertly and errorlessly, they earned their only win in five tries, 7-3.
The White Sox (page 18) held a meeting of their own on Tuesday to discuss their poor play, then lost to Oakland 4-3. Their first of two wins in five games came when Stan Bahnsen volunteered to pitch with two days' rest and beat the A's 5-3. Two days later DH Ron Santo walked with the bases loaded to force in the tie-breaking run in a 5-4 win over the Royals.
TEX 8-5 OAK 8-5 CAL 8-6 MIN 6-6 KC 4-6 CHI 3-9
There was no figuring Milwaukee pitchers according to past form. At least not Jim Col-born, a 20-game winner last year, and Clyde Wright, a 19-game loser and a man with serious back troubles. Colborn is 0-1 so far, losing to Cleveland 3-2 when his three wild pitches let in two runs. The Brewers won their three other games, two behind Wright, who gave batters aching backs as he pitched 13‚Öì hitless innings during one span.
Slugging with oldtime vigor, the Yankees were 4-3 for the week as they unloaded 11 homers, nine in a doubleheader split with the Indians. Graig Nettles, who leads both leagues in homers with eight, hit five last week, had 15 RBIs and batted .481. With the aid of a strong wind that blew his drive from foul to fair, Nettles shocked the Orioles 4-3 with a two-run ninth inning drive. When Pitching Coach Whitey Ford hinted that Doc Medich's fast curve lacked speed, the pitcher put more oomph behind it and downed the Red Sox 6-1.
Cleveland defeated Cleveland 6-3 when Reggie Cleveland of the Red Sox won his first AL game by defeating the Indians. A split in four games was the best that could be managed by the Orioles, who were batting .221 for the season and had made 12 errors in 11 games.
Yielding 10 first-inning runs to opponents and getting only eight runs of their own in four games was why the Tigers won just once. Their victory came when Joe Coleman stymied the Red Sox 1-0.
Cleveland's bullpen was labeled Gasoline Alley by a local sportswriter who claimed, "Indian firemen arrive on the scene with gasoline in their hoses." In 28 innings the Indian relievers have been burned for 20 runs, with the worst performance being that of Tom Hilgendorf, who faced 11 Yankees and gave up four homers. Jim and Gaylord Perry tied Christy and Henry Mathewson as the winningest brothers ever when Jim beat Milwaukee 3-2 for his 195th victory and the 373rd for the family.
MIL 7-3 BOS 7-5 NY 8-6 BALT 6-5 DET 4-8 CLEV 4-9
After making a superb play at second base, Dave Cash of the Phillies screamed, "Yes, we can!" Asked Shortstop Larry Bowa, "Who you yelling that to?" To which Cash answered, "Anybody who'll listen."
Opponents listened to the Phillies after their 6-2 week. Even Bill Robinson, who had complained, "I don't want to play for the Phillies anymore" when he was yanked for a pinch hitter, got into the act—after being restored to duty by Manager Danny Ozark. Robinson got three hits and scored four times as the Phillies topped the Cardinals 12-5.
"The Expos" magic number...now is 154," read a Montreal newspaper as the team headed for St. Louis. The Expos prompted the optimism by sweeping a three-game home stand from the Mets. Their 4-1 week, spiced by six homers, put them in first place.
Ted Simmons of St. Louis kept on hitting: he hit safely in the first 15 games this year and in 51 of the past 54. Alan Foster slowed the Expos 10-4, ensuring his first win by getting three hits and scoring three times.
Jokes about the Mets of old were starting to make a comeback until the New Yorkers ended their seven-game losing streak when Jerry Koosman beat Pittsburgh 5-2.
Chicago blitzed the Pirates 18-9 one day and 1-0 the next. In the first encounter the Cubs hit six homers, three by George Mitterwald, who amassed eight RBIs. Pittsburgh suffered the debacle even though outhitting the Cubs 16-13. The Pirates were further troubled by having to send struggling Pitcher Steve Blass down to Charleston after he gave up eight runs in five innings.
MONT 7-2 PHIL 8-5 ST. L 9-6 CHI 6-4 NY 3-8 PITT 2-10
Even during a 7-2 win over the Astros some of the Dodgers "were talking and thinking about Cincinnati," Ron Cey admitted. Last year the Reds wiped out an 11-game Dodger lead and took the West. After beating the Astros the Dodgers faced the Reds in two games. They won the opener 5-3 on Bill Russell's bases-loaded double in the 11th and laughed all the way in the closer 14-1. With Steve Garvey hitting four homers and Tommy John upping his record to 4-0 with two wins, the Dodgers had a 4-1 week.
Reds Manager Sparky Anderson issued a warning to the Dodgers: "They better not get too gay." Sterner was Pete Rose's message to Wayne Garrett of the Mets. Rose says he and Bud Harrelson made peace after their fight in last year's playoffs, but he will be gunning for Third Baseman Garrett. Rose charges Garrett punched him in the kidneys during the melee. "I hope I'm on first against the Mets and Joe Morgan singles to right because here I come, Wayne Garrett," Rose says, vowing to arrive with a "hard shoulder." Rounding out a 2-2 week for the Reds was an 11-0 romp over the Padres.
San Francisco tuned up for its June Swoon, going five games without a homer and losing five of seven contests. Yet the Giants somehow beat the Dodgers 5-4 with only two hits.
Houston, 4-3, was encouraged by Larry Dierker and Tom Griffin, both of whom defeated the Giants with three-hitters. Dierker won 3-1 and Griffin, who threw a mere 94 pitches, was a 4-0 winner with a single and homer at bat.
Since starting the season by going 0 for 16, Ralph Garr of Atlanta has been 25 for 47 and last week had seven consecutive hits. Phil Niekro struck out a career high of 13 as he shut out the Padres 6-0. And the Braves topped off a 4-2 week by going over .500 for the first time since September 1971.
Optimist of the Year Award goes to San Diego Manager John McNamara, who said, "I still think we can win in the vicinity of 80 games." Bold words. Thus far the Padres have been outscored 99-34, outhomered 12-2 and shut out four times. In the field they have made 23 errors. Erstwhile sluggers Willie McCovey, Nate Colbert and Dave Roberts have yet to homer. And Glenn Beckert, the team's best hitter at .400, was disabled by an arthritic right ankle.
LA 10-4 HOUS 8-7 SF 8-7 ATL 8-7 CIN 6-6 SD 3-12