Boston's Luis Tiant, who has won 13 of his last 16 decisions, in which he has a sparkling 1.73 ERA, defeated Texas 3-1, then took off for Mexico to see his wife, who was expecting their third child at any moment. But for the rest of the division the week was a bad trip that ended with a dismal 13-29 record.
Boston was only slightly more effective than its Eastern rivals. The Sox won three times to take first place as Tiant, who also shut out the Angels, brought his record to 14-7. He now has 15 complete games in 23 starts and is in position to improve on his 1973 record of 20 wins and 13 losses.
Lack of clutch hitting left Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver lamenting blown opportunities with men on base. After four straight losses Weaver spent an off day picnicking and possibly nitpicking over what happened to Wayne Garland. Going into the ninth against Oakland with a no-hitter, Garland gave up five runs and lost 6-1. Mike Cuellar was some solace as he beat California for his 13th victory.
July 28, 1974
Indian Dick Bosnian's 4-0 no-hit win over Oakland (page 22) was almost duplicated the next day when New York's Doc Medich held Kansas City hitless until the ninth. Then two hits and his own wild pitch left Medich with a 6-2 victory.
Milwaukee lost five of seven and fell into fifth place while Detroit dropped six out of seven as Lerrin Lagrow nearly tied a major league high with three wild pitches in one inning. The record of four is held by Walter Johnson.
BOS 50-44 BALT 49-44 CLEV 48-44 NY 47-47 MIL 46-47 DET 45-49
It was a typical week for Oakland which maintained its 4½-game lead and had another clubhouse hassle. Proclaiming, "I am the manager," upstaged Alvin Dark finally took action against his nettlesome pitchers, fining Ken Holtzman and Vida Blue $250 each for flipping the ball to him in anger when he took them out. "I don't want to play catch out there," Alvin said darkly. Nonetheless, the A's won six games, including three straight from Baltimore and yet another from Indian Gaylord Perry, whom they have defeated 10 times in 12 meetings.
Chicago toddled through six games without a loss as Pitcher Wilbur Wood won his 16th and Dick Allen ended a mini-slump with his 24th and 25th home runs. Both marks top the majors.
Kansas City had 108 men reach base, but won only four of seven games as Steve Busby epitomized Royal frustration. In beating Boston, he set a club record with six straight strikeouts. During his next start the Yanks bombed him for seven hits and four runs in less than two innings.
Texas won four times despite a three-day suspension for Manager Billy Martin, who ordered his pitchers to throw at Milwaukee hitters, and then told the umpire his plan. Martin returned in time to see Jim Bibby pitch his second win in four days, defeating the Red Sox 8-6.
With 11 players paying $250 each for a course in positive thinking, Minnesota apparently has bought success. Since the classes began, the previously negative Twins are 16-9 and took five of seven last week.
California won four games including Nolan Ryan's five-hit shutout of Baltimore, in which Frank Robinson hit his 566th career home run.
OAK 54-41 CHI 48-44 KC 47-46 TEX 47-50 MINN 46-50 CAL 38-59
Los Angeles started to sag, winning only twice in six games, and the Dodgers' future looks anything but bright. Pitcher Tommy John (13-3) will be out for at least three weeks with a ruptured ligament in his left elbow. John's injury combined with continued ineffectiveness by Don Sutton, who hasn't won since May 14, and the ailments of Jim Brewer (bad back) and Doug Rau (neck trouble) leaves Andy Messersmith and Mike Marshall as the only healthy Dodger mainstays.
Cincinnati won five of eight to pick up 1½ games on L.A., but the Reds could have come even closer had they not lost two games to the Cubs at Riverfront Stadium.
Houston, winner in three of seven games, continued to receive good pitching from 34-year-old Claude Osteen, who improved his record to 9-7. Demoted to the bullpen six weeks ago when he had a 5-6 mark, Osteen developed something called an off-speed fastball. "It's turned into an excellent pitch," he said after winning his fourth straight since returning to the starting rotation.
Atlanta's two wins came on Phil Niekro's 7-0 shutout of the Cards and Buzz Capra's 10th victory of the season, a 7-2 triumph over Chicago. One of the Braves' five losses was partly attributable to a misplay in the outfield by Ralph Garr, who told reporters who inquired about it, "I ain't got nothin' to say about nothin' from now on, and you can put that in the paper. When I say something it never comes out like I say it, so from now on Ralph Garr ain't saying nothin'." Meanwhile, Henry Aaron quietly appeared in his 3,034th game to surpass Ty Cobb's record for most big-league games played.
The Giants won three in a row for the first time since early May, and the hard-luck Padres dropped deeper into the cellar—where they seem likely to remain now that Bobby Tolan has a torn cartilage in his knee.
LA 63-33 CIN 57-40 HOUS 51-45 ATL 50-48 SF 43-53 SD 42-58
Figuring out Philadelphia remained a frustrating pursuit during an erratic week when the Phils twice lost to the lowly Padres—once by an unfathomable 15-1 score. Still, the Phils survived their yo-yo tendencies and maintained their lead of 1½ games. True to form, they rebounded from the 15-1 loss with an 8-5 win over San Diego that was sparked by Mike Schmidt's three-run homer. In splitting two games with the Dodgers, Philadelphia first succumbed to a three-hit shutout, then won 5-2 as 38-year-old Tony Taylor, batting .314, collected his ninth pinch hit of the season.
Montreal won five of seven out West, including a pair from the Dodgers. In an 8-7 win at Los Angeles, Willie Davis tormented his old teammates with five hits.
Success eluded St. Louis throughout the week before the Cardinals edged Houston 6-5 to end a seven-game losing streak. The Cards, taking a cue from The Exorcist, dressed up a batboy as "The Phantom," a mysterious being who had been bedeviling the team. Among other things, the players lit candles under the uniform—fortunately, waiting for a moment when the boy was not wearing it—to chase away the evil spell.
As St. Louis was nose-diving, Pittsburgh was soaring, by flipping off seven straight victories. Even with Al Oliver's hitting streak reaching 16 consecutive games, Manager Danny Murtaugh remained cautious. "Ask me about our pennant chances when we reach .500," he said.
Chicago won four of seven, taking one game from Cincinnati 11-6 with nine runs in the last two innings. Shortstop Bud Harrelson returned to the Mets after sitting out 29 games with a broken hand and promptly jarred his ribs on a diving catch of a blooper far out on the left-field grass.
PHIL 48-46 MONT 45-46 ST.L 45-49 PITT 44-49 CHI 41-51 NY 40-51