Although Chicago dropped out of the alleged pennant race by losing six of eight games, Ron Santo won this week's Watergate Award for Not Making Oneself Perfectly Clear. Santo is the man who refused to let the Chicago Cubs trade him to the Angels last winter and then personally took a hand in a deal that sent him to the White Sox. Now Santo has been quoted in a Los Angeles paper saying that if he had to make the choice again he would select the Angels, not the Sox. "What I was trying to tell the guy is that it's frustrating to sit and not play every day and be hitting .220," Santo said, sounding like another Ron. "It would be easier to cope with if I was playing every day and hitting .220. What I meant was that in Anaheim I would have been a regular and playing every day, thus the .220 would be easier to take. But that doesn't mean I'd rather be there than in Chicago."
California Owner Gene Autry doubted that even Champion could run on the waterlogged field in Minnesota, but financially troubled Twins Owner Calvin Griffith, swayed by an advance sale of 7,500, ordered the game underway. Four innings later, with the Twins enroute to another defeat and players taking pratfalls on the slippery surface, Griffith lambasted the umpires for not calling the game before it became official. "I hope they choke on the money they made tonight," said Twins Infielder Eric Soderholm.
Kansas City signed Orlando Cepeda as its designated hitter, but Owner Ewing Kauffman claims he will not resubmit the $1 million bid he made to Griffith last winter for Twins Pitcher Bert Blyleven. "We have been losing too much money," Kauffman said.
Texas slugger Jeff Burroughs had four hits, including his second grand-slam home run of the year, in a 12-5 rout of the White Sox. He now leads the majors with 86 RBIs.
Oakland matched the Rangers' 5-2 record, Reggie Jackson ruining Texas in one game with two home runs, the third time he has done that to the Rangers this year.
OAK 62-44 TEX 55-53 KC 52-52 CHI 52-53 MINN 51-55 CAL 43-65
All Lou Brock remembers about his first major league stolen base is that he was wearing No. 24 for the Cubs. For his 700th swipe Brock wore No. 20 for St. Louis and his victim was Chicago, which graciously gave him Wrigley Field's second-base bag to take home with him. And Brock, who now has 65 steals for the season, was at his pilfering best later in the week when St. Louis and Philadelphia squared off for first place. With the Cardinals trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Brock singled home the tying run, stole second for the second time in the game, moved to third on an infield out and scored the winning run on Bake McBride's single. For the Phillies it was their fourth one-run loss in six games, but they were hardly depressed. "This ain't September," snapped Third Baseman Mike Schmidt.
New York's dreams of another miracle finish turned to nightmares when Tom Seaver was racked by the Pirates and Reliever Tug McGraw was bombed by the Cubs. Pitcher Jim Rooker shut out the Mets, then blasted the blasé ways of his Pittsburgh teammates. "We don't have the leadership that a winning club needs," he said.
Montreal recovered from three losses in New York to sweep an equal number from the Cubs and then defeat the Phillies as Willie Davis hit a home run and won the game with a ninth-inning single. Chicago's Bill Madlock made three errors at third base in a doubleheader and received a standing ovation when he finally fielded a ball cleanly.
ST. L. 55-51 PHIL 54-52 PITT 51-56 MONT 50-55 NY 46-58 CHI 45-59
"The Dodgers are the best team in our league because they have the best balance," insisted San Diego Manager John McNamara. Actually, L.A. is No. 1 largely because it is undefeated, untied and practically unscored upon in 11 games with McNamara's Band. Three of the victories came last week as the Dodgers increased their seasonal leads over the Padres to 95-28 in runs scored, 18-6 in home runs and 21-3 in stolen bases.
Cincinnati continued to press Los Angeles with Cesar Geronimo leading the way. He hit .370, scored six runs and clouted a home run. Geronimo also joined Pete Rose in baffling the Giants with some adventurous base running. Rookie Pitcher Ed Halicki mistakenly fielded a Rose chopper that was rolling foul and the alert Geronimo scored easily when the catcher forgot to cover the plate. Then someone yelled to Halicki, "Throw to first!" So Halicki did. The trouble was that no Giant was near it. The ball rolled to the outfield as Rose dashed to second. Who told Halicki to throw? "I think it was me," Rose said, suppressing a grin. Moments later Rose scored from third base by eluding four Giants in a rundown.
Dave Johnson blamed one Atlanta loss on old ladies in Haiti. "Remember last year when the pitchers complained that the balls were sewn too tightly? I think word must have reached Haiti, because they're not sewing them as tight now. Softer balls don't carry." Houston's Cesar Cedeno hit one of those alleged softees for his 22nd homer.
LA 71-37 CIN 65-43 HOUS 55-51 ATL 54-52 SF 49-60 SD 44-65
"I don't feel like a historical figure," said Detroit's Eddie Brinkman after the Tigers became the first team ever to hit four home runs in the first inning of a game. Al Kaline, Bill Freehan and Mickey Stanley walloped successive homers against the Indians, and Brinkman's 10th home run of the year got the line in the record book. "We set a record?" Stanley said. "Hey, we must be good."
The Tigers were better than that, winning five of seven games. Unfortunately, Stanley suffered a broken hand when he was hit by a pitched ball. As his replacement the Tigers called up 22-year-old Outfielder Ron LeFlore who, like teammate Gates Brown, is a former convict. He promptly stole two bases against the Brewers.
The Red Sox received an encouraging performance from Juan Marichal. Pitching for the first time in almost 10 weeks, he retired 18 of the last 19 Baltimore batters he faced—and picked off the one Oriole who reached first base in that stretch. As Baltimore slumped, Manager Earl Weaver locked the clubhouse doors and warned the Orioles, "It's too early to throw in the towel."
Even National Leaguers are beginning to take the Indians seriously. The Dodgers dispatched Regie Otero to scout the Tribe just in case the Dodgers and Indians happen to meet in the World Series.
Milwaukee slipped to last place, prompting this shrewd analysis from Manager Del Crandall: "I have found it increasingly difficult to explain why this happens and that happens. I just don't know. All I know is that it winds up as another loss. I know that happens." Speaking of losses, New York dropped seven of eight on the road before returning home to beat the Red Sox.
BOS 57-48 CLEV 55-49 BALT 53-52 NY 52-54 DET 51-54 MIL 51-55