California fired Manager Bobby Winkles, whose Angels were in last place, and hired ex-Oakland Manager Dick Williams. The A's owner, Charlie Finley, freed Williams from court restraints to permit him to join California. Maybe he was feeling especially magnanimous; his club had just beaten the Angels three straight. Waiting for Williams to show in person this week, California won two of its next three games, including a one-hit shutout by Nolan Ryan. "History shows teams react this way to a change," said interim manager Whitey Herzog. "They'll probably respond well to Dick for a while. But let's be realistic. Unless we continue in this frame of mind, we'll go back to playing the way we did—terrible."
Minnesota President Calvin Griffith refused to give Manager Frank Quilici a vote of confidence, nor did Quilici get one at home. His wife Penny, claiming psychic powers, predicted her husband would be fired. The Twins responded by winning two in a row and, following a loss, another three, after failing to put two victories together all June. Tony Oliva took a batting lesson from league-leader Rod Carew, who finished the week at .396, and got four home runs, including the 200th of his career, in three games. He also raised his average to .310.
Minnesota kept the White Sox from gaining ground on Oakland by knocking off Chicago's Wilbur Wood and Stan Bahnsen. Texas got a power-hitting streak from Shortstop Toby Harrah—six homers in nine games—but otherwise the Rangers sagged badly, losing five of seven. Even the Royals, who beat Oakland in three of four games, could not gain ground. They lost twice to the White Sox early in the week. In one of the losses, Steve Busby followed up his no-hitter exactly as he did last year, by pitching 5‚Öì hitless innings. The White Sox beat him by scoring three runs in the seventh, but not before he had set an American League record by retiring 33 straight batters. Busby came back strong at week's end, shutting out Oakland 2-0 on five singles. The crowd of 39,474 included Finley, who had pulled his team out of Kansas City seven years before and has not drawn as well in Oakland as the Royals have in K.C., a fact noted on the scoreboard, which flashed: EAT YOUR HEART OUT, CHARLIE.
OAK 41-34 CHI 35-35 KC 36-36
TEX 38-38 MINN 31-41 CAL 32-45
Apart from the Perry brothers, the Cleveland Indians pitching staff had a dismal 4.77 earned run average. But no matter. Last week both Perrys beat the league-leading Red Sox 2-1. Jim needed relief help in the ninth; Gaylord went all the way the next night before 33,020 fans, who endured late-afternoon and early-evening downpours, with a three-hitter for his 14th consecutive win. The winning run in that game was scored by Leron Lee as he crashed into Boston Catcher Carlton Fisk. Fisk underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee and to have cartilage removed, and may be gone for the season. The strain of losing Fisk's leadership could have precipitated Outfielder Juan Beniquez' shouting match with Boston Coach Eddie Popowski before the next game, but Beniquez hit a pair of homers, including his first major league grand slam, and Boston shelled Cleveland and pitchers not named Perry 12-2. Earlier in the week the Red Sox won back-to-back shutouts 8-0 and 9-0 as Rico Petrocelli, limited to a designated hitter role because of a hamstring problem, hit three home runs, including his ninth career grand slam. Heavily bandaged, he returned to third base—but lost his home-run touch. "I feel like a mummy," he said, "but a healthy one for a change."
The Tigers played like mummies, losing five of seven. Mickey Lolich, who had won five straight and pitched 11 consecutive complete games, lasted only six innings against Milwaukee, which went on to win 9-0. Jim Colborn scattered six hits in the shutout and the Brewers, who won four of six during the week, got other complete-game victories from Ed Sprague and Clyde Wright.
In Baltimore, Cy Young Award winner Jim Palmer, inactive since June 16 because of a sore arm, was placed on the 21-day disabled list. Mike Cuellar, riding a nine-game winning streak, was ejected from a game against the Tigers after the third inning for questioning the umpire's eyesight with four-letter words and got tagged with a loss. Still, the Orioles managed to win three of five, with complete games from Doyle Alexander, Ross Grimsley and Dave McNally, the last a two-hit shutout. The Yankees should have such pitching problems. They lost three of four and remained in the cellar.
BOS 41-31 CLEV 37-34 BALT 37-34
DET 37-35 MIL 35-34 NY 35-38
Atlanta, with six games against Cincinnati and three against Los Angeles, was envisioning a serious charge at the division leaders but beat each opponent just once and fell to third (page 14). The Dodgers' loss to the Braves was their one slip of the week, as they continued to find ways to win squeakers. They have won no fewer than 15 times on the performance of their last man at bat. Reliever Mike Marshall set a major league record with 10 straight appearances, which at one point included five wins in six outings. With the season less than half over he has worked in 50 games. "I'm not sure Walter O'Malley has enough money to pay Marshall what he's worth," said another Dodger reliever, Jim Brewer. "He's amazing. He can't be human. What he has done is against everything that I ever felt was physically possible."
Three of the Dodger wins came at the expense of the Giants. San Francisco figured to be in a race, but not with San Diego to escape the cellar. And season attendance at Candlestick is less than what Los Angeles has drawn for six Dodger-Giant games. When the Giants dropped three straight to the Padres in the middle of the week, Manager Charlie Fox resigned, in effect changing jobs with Wes Westrum, who moved up from a scouting post.
After five days in the hospital because of a pinched sciatic nerve, Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson expressed relief at being allowed to rejoin the Reds. "I figured I had to get back," he said. "Seemed like every day another manager was gone." The Reds won seven of nine (making it eight of 10 since Anderson moved Joe Morgan from second to third in the batting order). Morgan responded to the shift with a .424 average, eight RBIs and four runs scored. He also drew eight walks and stole six bases. Two of the Reds' wins came over Houston, where the talk, as usual, was about the Astros' failure to live up to their potential.
LA 51-24 CIN 44-30 ATL 41-35
HOUS 37-38 SF 34-44 SD 34-46
When the Cardinals beat the Mets 6-1 for their fourth win in five games, Joe Torre waxed enthusiastic. "I've been in the big leagues 14 years and this is the best club I've been on," he said. Lynn McGlothen had just four-hit the Mets to become the National League's first 11-game winner. Earlier Bob Gibson flashed his old form with an 11-strikeout shutout of Pittsburgh. That left Gibson just 12 strikeouts shy of 3,000, a mark reached by only one other pitcher, Walter Johnson. The victory was Gibson's 241st, putting him ahead of Boston's Juan Marichal as the winningest active pitcher in baseball. But New York's Jon Matlack tempered St. Louis' exuberance. He allowed the Cardinals but one hit, a single by opposing Pitcher John Curtis, as New York won 4-0. "If they had a designated hitter in this league, you'd have had a no-hitter," Tom Seaver told Matlack.
That closed out a good week for the Mets, who had already swept a three-game series from the Cubs. Chicago managed a four-four week by taking three one-run games from Montreal. One lasted 18 innings, and was finally won when Jerry Morales tripled home Don Kessinger. Morales had been unsuccessful in eight previous trips to the plate. Montreal gained a measure of revenge by banging out 17 hits, including eight doubles, to nip Chicago 15-0 in a fourth game.
Earlier, the Expos had taken two of three from the Phillies, both shutouts, as Philadelphia went 26 innings without a run "We're just not swinging bats," grumbled Manager Danny Ozark, whose team's only win was triggered by Pitcher Jim Lonborg's grand slam.
The Pirates came home to record their 10th straight victory at Three Rivers, but with four losses they dropped stolidly to fifth. They have a miserable 11-26 record against East Division clubs and are 7-16 in one-run games.
ST. L 38-34 PHIL 38-35 MONT 34-34
CHI 31-40 PITT 30-40 NY 30-42