Kansas City's Bruce Dal Canton has a new knuckler this season and, ingrate that he is, he flipped a 9-0 helping of knuckles at the team of the man who helped him with the pitch, Chicago. "Wilbur Wood told me to cut my fingernails square, not round," Dal Canton revealed. The game was on national television. In KC's previous network TV appearance this year Dal Canton beat Baltimore 9-1. When the Royals appeared on the tube once again, last Saturday, Nelson Briles was the KC pitcher, and he kept the streak going with a 5-3 win over Boston. It was Briles' first victory in the American League.
Texas dropped back into a third-place tie by losing three straight, but Ranger Shortstop Toby Harrah hit his ninth home run in 16 games—nearly half his team's homer production for the period. Chicago, only 4-4 for the week, also had an enterprising hitter. Bill Melton, who had been in a slump most of the season, went nine for 12 in three games against the Royals, hit three home runs and raised his average from .199 to .225. Said Melton, who homered again on Saturday against Detroit, "I was in a slump so long it was like the Sox were playing with eight guys instead of nine."
While Minnesota was deep in fifth place, the Twins at least could applaud the progress of Outfielder Larry Hisle (whom Owner Calvin Griffith tried to trade last winter). Hisle got his sixth game-winning hit of the season—a home run—and ripped four hits the next day, including another homer, in a 6-4 win at Milwaukee.
OAK 46-36 KC 40-38 TEX 41-41 CHI 39-40 MINN 35-46 CAL 32-51
Relishing the outcome of the Boston-Baltimore slugfest (page 24), Cleveland slipped past the Red Sox into the lead. The Indians had won 11 of their last 13, thanks to the bat of Centerfielder George Hendrick and the phenomenal arm of Gaylord Perry. Among other deeds, Hendrick spoiled a Nolan Ryan no-hitter-in-progress with his 15th homer of the season. Hendrick is batting .304, has 44 RBIs and has scored 41 runs. Perry won his 15th straight. As former Indian owner Bill Veeck said, "Never has a club or a town owed so much to one pitcher." Said Perry, "There is more pressure each game, but I pitch better under pressure." Brother Jim wasn't doing so badly either, defeating Milwaukee to even his record at 7-7.
Detroit won five of eight and moved into a third-place tie with Baltimore as Gates Brown fattened his league record for pinch hits to 91 and set a new AL mark for pinch home runs: 13. Another Tiger was getting record-conscious, the record being most games won, single season, by a reliever. Reliever John Hiller won his 11th, putting him even in victories with L.A.'s redoubtable Mike Marshall. Their target is ElRoy Face's mark of 18, set in 1959.
The Brewers were Cleveland's favorite patsies, losing four of five to the Indians. The Yankees had a turnabout week—losing their seventh straight, then winning three in a row—and on one night you might have mistaken them for the Bombers of yore. Indeed, genuine Bombers were present for an Old-timers evening in Texas: DiMaggio, Mantle, Bauer. Thus inspired, the 1974 Yankees slammed 11 hits and won 9-3.
CLEV 44-35 BOS 43-36 BALT 42-37 DET 43-38 MIL 39-40 NY 38-42
Flying higher and higher, the Dodgers won five of eight and led the division by 10 games, the biggest margin in their West Coast history. Reliever Mike Marshall was on a spectacular solo flight of his own, pitching in a major league-record 13th straight game. In his streak, which began June 18, he had six wins, two saves and a 1.67 ERA for 26‚Öî innings. "If they ask me to pitch in the next 20 games I'll be ready," Marshall said. But they didn't ask in the next one as the Dodgers lost to second-place Cincinnati for the first time in nine games this season. However, the Reds were still all those games back, and worse, not hitting. "We're not giving up," said the Reds' Don Gullett. Maybe not on the season, but forget the rest of the week: three more losses made it six in seven days.
Although the Braves were grateful for a 10-inning, 3-2 victory over Chicago, they had lost 13 of their last 18. Manager Eddie Mathews said, "Baseball is a game of peaks and valleys, but this valley we're in is getting too deep for my taste." The Houston Astros were also down in that valley, but climbing out, it seemed, leaving footprints on Atlanta backs. They beat the Braves three of four, defeated San Diego once and Pittsburgh twice. Leftfielder Bob Watson, batting .307 himself, now calls rookie Rightfielder Greg Gross (.340) Ty Williams. "He never swings at a bad pitch," says Watson. Though he had a league-leading 67 RBIs, Centerfielder Cesar Cedeno was not entirely happy. "The way Gross has been on base in front of me," said Cedeno, "I could have 100 RBIs."
A victory over San Francisco released the Padres from the cellar for a day—the first time in their existence they had climbed so high at this point in the season—but four consecutive losses followed. "I'm convinced we'll beat out at least one team," said Manager John McNamara, "and maybe two or three." Maybe.
LA 56-27 CIN 45-36 ATL 44-40 HOUS 43-40 SF 37-47 SD 36-51
Perhaps the Pirates miss, as the song goes, "...the comforts they can only get in port." Anyway, Pittsburgh was at it again. At home they beat the Phillies twice and the Expos three out of four, but then they took to the road and promptly lost two in a row to Houston. It figures. The Pirates have won 15 of their last 16 at Three Rivers Stadium, but only 11 of 40 away.
Four of the Cardinals' five wins came on the road, and a .544 percentage, their best mark of the season, bred confidence. Not to mention being on top on July 4. Twice since 1951 they have led on that date, and both times they won the pennant. The resurgence of 38-year-old Bob Gibson also had the Cardinals chirping. As Tim McCarver said, "Anybody who counts him out is a fool." In his last three starts Gibson has allowed only two runs in 25‚Öì innings, and he finished his week just three short of the 3,000 strikeout mark.
The contending Phillies were also coming back—a bit. After losing eight straight they took three in a row—one from New York and two from San Diego—and shared second place with Montreal. For their part, the Expos had the temerity not only to beat lofty Los Angeles two of three but to become the first team to score in double figures against the Dodgers this year—an 11-6 victory at Jarry Park. Among their 14 hits the Expos had three home runs. After the Dodgers scored three times in the fifth, rookie Catcher Barry Foote drove a tremendous two-run shot to left into a strong crosswind. In the eighth Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton hit back-to-back homers—these aided by the wind and looping to right.
Chicago was unnaturally fierce, winning a doubleheader for the first time since May 13, 1973 (over Atlanta) and another game to make it three straight, their best winning streak of the year. "The Cubs are on the move," crowed Manager Whitey Lockman.
ST. L 43-36 MONT 39-38 PHIL 41-40 PITT 35-43 CHI 35-44 NY 34-46