It was a typical Oakland week: the players fought among themselves, groused about Manager Alvin Dark and Owner Charles O. Finley and still managed to split six games. First, Catfish Hunter said Dark should not have relieved him with another right-handed pitcher, Rollie Fingers—who promptly allowed two earned runs. The A's beat Milwaukee 6-4 anyway to extend their winning streak to four and their division lead to V/z games. Other players were more disturbed by the demotion of Pat Bourque, a .286-hitting first baseman and designated hitter, to the minors.; "If Bourque goes, no one is safe," said one. "Why does he [Finley] have to mess up just when we're going so well?"
Then things got hotter. Reggie Jackson and Billy North, who had been feuding, brawled in Detroit. Jackson, who outweighs North by some 20 pounds, wound up with an injured shoulder and Catcher Ray Fosse, a would-be peacemaker, was in traction with a back injury.
Things were slightly more peaceful in Chicago. When fire broke out in a concession stand thousands of White Sox fans ran onto the field to escape the smoke—and behaved well, perhaps because Dick Allen, en route to driving in 17 runs in eight games, had already hit a three-run homer against Boston. The next day he batted in two more runs with a single and double as the White Sox clobbered the Red Sox 13-6 and moved into second. Surprising Texas was just a percentage point back. Manager Billy Martin held Alex Johnson out of a game, explaining that he needed "a little rest." The next day Johnson had a little fun: four hits and four RBIs, leading the Rangers to a 6-2 win over his exteammates in Cleveland.
Early in the week Kansas City Manager Jack McKeon was complaining that players should be paid for teamwork rather than individual statistics. As if to prove his point, the Royals' best-paid player and top individual star, Amos Otis, made mental mistakes that contributed to two defeats, and the Royals fell to fourth. During California's dismal 1-5 week there was speculation that Manager Bobby Winkles would be replaced. Winkles and Frank Robinson weren't speaking and Winkles asserted that General Manager Harry Dalton had become "a middle-of-the-roader with me." Replied Dalton, "All I can say is that he's manager of the ball club right now."
Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici dropped Pitcher Bert Blyleven from the rotation after three poor performances in four starts, but five days later Blyleven was throwing against New York, and Quilici left him in the game despite his 100-plus pitches in five shaky innings. Blyleven responded by setting down the Yankees on some 40 pitches in the last four innings, retiring the final seven batters and winning 3-2.
OAK 31-24 CHI 26-24 TEX 28-27 KC 26-27 CAL 25-31 MINN 22-28
Having played 33 of their first 48 games on the road, the Tigers began a 12-game home stand next to last in team batting, last in runs scored and last in the American League East. Wisely, they conserved what potency was left in their bats, getting just seven hits in a doubleheader with Oakland yet earning a split. Then they dropped a 9-1 game to the A's, but subsequently defeated California 5-4 and 5-2, the Tigers' first five-run games in two weeks. Switching Catcher Bill Freehan to first and putting Jerry Moses behind the plate seemed sound moves by Manager Ralph Houk, and Mickey Lolich completed his seventh straight game. With 19 strikeouts in two games, Fat Mickey increased his lifetime total to 2,412 and moved into 10th place on the alltime list.
In Baltimore, Catcher Earl Williams and Pitcher Ross Grimsley, important acquisitions in the last two seasons, were off form—Williams again quarreling with Manager Earl Weaver—and sore-armed Jim Palmer lost his seventh straight game. Still, the Orioles took four of six as other Birds chipped in. Mike Cuellar won his seventh (6-4 over Texas), while Bobby Grich belabored the Rangers' Ferguson Jenkins, hitting two doubles, a homer and a sacrifice fly.
Milwaukee was still dreaming of a pennant, its players debating what would make one possible. Slugger George Scott thought the club needed a good left-handed reliever. A good righthander, Tom Murphy, thought he and Ed Rodriguez were doing just fine. Former starter Jim Colborn scored a point for the right wing, with his, by pitching 5‚Öì innings of relief to beat Oakland 6-4.
Boston led the league despite a dearth of starting pitchers. That's right, Boston. The Red Sox began the season with a cast of thousands lighting for positions in the rotation. Last week only Bill Lee and Luis Tiant were cause for happy Hubbub. Reggie Cleveland, who had thrown 13 gopher balls in 70 innings, had a 6.30 ERA, Dick Drago was struggling, too, and Rick Wise and Juan Marichal were still recovering from injuries. Cleveland had Gaylord Perry and those sudsy fans (page 10)—and an epidemic of aches. Moreover, Pitchers Steve Kline and Fritz Peterson looked sore-armed.
BOS 29-25 MIL 28-23 BALT 26-27 CLEV 26-27 DET 26-27 NY 27-30
With Shortstop Chris Speier and Second Baseman Tito Fuentes benched (for poor hitting and an injury, respectively), the Giants had a double-play combination of Bruce Miller and Mike Phillips. Which did not bode well for June, always the toughest month in San Francisco. Swooning, the Giants were 3-4. "We are a peaceable club," said Outfielder Garry Maddox. "We fight other teams...but we're real friendly in the clubhouse. We play hard for each other. I don't understand why we don't win more." Maddox might check across the Bay.
Or down the San Andreas Fault, where the Dodgers seemed to be bidding for the alias Oakland A's South. In a rare loss—7-6 to the Cubs—Third Baseman Ron Cey and Catcher Joe Ferguson publicly argued over who should have caught a foul ball that neither did. And Outfielder Von Joshua asked to be traded. So naturally the Dodgers ran off four straight wins. Their most impressive streak belonged to Steve Yeager, who had caught 28 straight wins before the Dodgers were beaten again by the Cubs. Yeager's fine play has moved Ferguson to right field.
Cincinnati matched Los Angeles, but Manager Sparky Anderson may have blown a chance to gain when he let Dave Concepcion swing on a 3-0 count with two out in the ninth, a man on third, the Reds trailing the Mets 4-3 and Johnny Bench on deck. Concepcion popped out. The Braves, who have been on a tear of their own (17-7 since May 12), kept pace with the leaders. Henry Aaron's grand slam beat Philadelphia and gave him more home runs than Babe Ruth. Total homers, that is. With World Series, playoff and All-Star games thrown in, Aaron now has 731. Pitcher Buzz Capra (5-2) ticked off 25 straight scoreless innings after becoming an Atlanta starter on May 19. He has the majors' best ERA: 1.17.
Houston introduced the "foamer" in an attempt to increase lagging home attendance. If an Astro homers when the scoreboard clock shows an even number—for example, 10:12—everyone gets free beer through the eighth inning. Lee May hit two timely homers, but the Astros still lost three of five. Having been defeated often because of few hits, the Padres lost a game in which they got 17. But San Diego won four one-run games and led the league with a 13-4 record in that department. In games decided by bigger margins they are 9-35.
LA 41-16 CIN 31-22 ATL 30-25 HOUS 29-28 SF 30-29 SD 22-39
Philadelphia, 4-2 had the division's only winning record for the week, but slugger Greg Luzinski was grounded for at least 10 weeks by knee surgery. Impressively aloft, the Cardinals' Lou Brock winged his stolen-base total to 38 in 53 games, a record pace. St. Louis traded one shortstop, Luis Alvarado, to Cleveland for another, Jack Heidemann, and considered using an outfielder, Luis Melendez, at the position in place of the slumping, hobbled incumbent, Mike Tyson. The Wit and Wisdom of Yogi Berra was published too soon. When he wasn't on TV saying how "trilled" he was to manage the National League All-Stars, he added this to American folklore: "You're not out of it until you're out of it." His Mets, 2-3, weren't into it with much pizzazz.
Montreal was shut out twice by Atlanta's Capra and once by Houston's Larry Dierker. Of his Expo hitters, Manager Gene Mauch said, "They all have their norms. And they are going to have a lot of fun getting back to their norms." Chicago Reliever Jim K. remind pitched five innings of one-run ball in Wichita against the Cubs' farm club, then was told—with no forewarning—to stay there. "I've been in baseball a long time," said a veteran, "but I've never seen it done that way. The least they could have done was give the kid a day's notice." Until Dock Ellis beat the Giants 5-2 on Saturday, the Pirates were winless for the week. "Give me a ground-level room," Manager Danny Murtaugh told a hotel clerk. "In case I jump, I don't want to have far to drop."
PHIL 30-25 ST. L 27-26 MONT 23-24 NY 23-31 CHI 21-29 PITT 19-32