Greater love hath no fan than to drive his car over a street littered with nails to buy tickets, to attend games where almost no refreshments are on sale and to clean the stadium after the contest. That—and more—is what San Franciscans have endured during a strike of city workers. Still, nearly 25,000 saw the first two games of a home stand. Was it worth it? Certainly, since the Giants beat the Pirates 7-3, with Gary Matthews hitting two homers, and 3-1. Ken Reitz batted .476 and Matthews, who hit .429, slugged two more homers as the Giants fought back from an 8-1 deficit in Atlanta to a 12-11 win.
A 4-1 week by the Giants left them tied for first with Cincinnati (2-3) and Atlanta (3-2), Houston (4-4) being percentage points behind. The Reds' Rawly Eastwick notched a save and a win with superlative relief jobs, the second a 6-4 victory over Montreal in which Dave Concepcion drove in two runs in the 11th. The Braves jolted the Phils 6-5 with a five-run ninth highlighted by five walks and Vic Cornell's double. And former Dodgers Jimmy Wynn, Lee Lacy and Jerry Royster teamed up for seven hits and five RBIs as Atlanta edged Los Angeles 7-6.
Randy Jones of San Diego (4-2) had his fastball clocked at 73 mph, about 10 below what is considered average among major league pitchers. Pinpointing his slow stuff, Jones beat Houston 11-5 and St. Louis 5-1. In other Padre wins, Jerry Turner clipped the Reds 7-5 with a two-run single in the eighth and Tito Fuentes singled in the ninth to nip the Cardinals 4-3.
May 2, 1976
The Dodgers lost four of seven.
ATL 7-5 CIN 7-5 SF 7-5 HOUS 9-7 SD 7-6 LA 4-9
Leading the Cubs 7-3 in a game delayed four times by rain, the Expos resorted to outlandish tactics as they hurried through the fifth inning so the game would become official. After Tim Foli and Woodie Fryman got hits, they deliberately let themselves be thrown out by trying to take extra bases. Umpire Billy Williams quickly ordered a halt to such shenanigans, and the game, which was suspended after six innings because of darkness, was concluded the next day. Foli, who had singled, doubled and tripled the previous afternoon, hit for the cycle by homering as the Expos (3-3) went on to win 12-6.
Chicago (2-4) snapped a five-game losing streak with a pair of 11-inning wins, 5-4 over the Expos and 4-3 over the Dodgers.
Dave Parker of the Pirates (1-4) sported a T shirt that read IF YOU HEAR ANY NOISE, IT'S JUST ME AND THE BOYS BOPPIN. But after bopping the Mets 7-5, Buc bats fell almost silent, producing just five runs in four games. Jim Kaat of the Phillies stopped the Pirates 5-1 and Tom Underwood, aided by Tug McGraw, squelched them 3-0 as Philadelphia (4-1) moved into first place.
For the Cardinals (2-4) it was a terrible week. They hit .214, committed assorted errors in the field and on the bases and Pitcher Lynn McGlothen was fined and suspended after he threw at the Mets.
"Jerry Grote has changed," said Met teammate Joe Torre. "He could win the good-guy award at Attica." Long known for his irascibility, Catcher Grote has been uncommonly congenial of late, a change of character he attributes to Transcendental Meditation. TM may also have improved his hitting. Last week Grote batted .417. Del Unser's 17th-inning homer did in St. Louis 4-3, Jon Matlack blanked St. Louis 8-0 and Tom Seaver beat Houston 7-1 on three hits.
PHIL 6-4 PITT 6-5 NY 7-7 CHI 6-7 MONT 5-7 ST.L 4-8
LOU, LOU, LOU—that was the first item flashed on the new message board at Yankee Stadium. It was a tribute to Lou Piniella, who led the league with a .485 average after his .450 week. Other hot hitters for New York were Chris Chambliss (.455 and eight RBIs), Willie Randolph (.500), Thurman Munson (.318) and Mickey Rivers (six RBIs). The Bronx Blazers stole 11 bases in 12 tries. Among New York's three wins in five games were 5-4 and 10-7 victories over the White Sox, who left the Big Apple with nothing but an $18 check. The Yankees protested that Chicago starter Bart Johnson should not be allowed to wear a white sweat shirt because it made it difficult for the batters to see the ball. The umpires agreed, so Johnson snipped off his white sleeves. Clay Carroll, the other Sox hurler to appear in the game, wore a blue one instead. All of which resulted in a double coup for the Sox. League President Lee MacPhail ruled their shirts are legal. And the Yankees assumed that both Johnson and Carroll had chopped their sleeves and, trying to make amends, paid Chicago the price of two sweat shirts—$18. The white sleeves were Owner Bill Veeck's idea, but another of his notions was scuttled by Manager Paul Richards. "Bill wanted us to wear wigs in practice in New York to show up all the clean-shaven Yankees," Richards said.
George C. Scott, the Milwaukee (3-2) first baseman, not the Academy Award winner, went to the movies. Henry Aaron tipped off Scott that the cause of his slump was that he was keeping his hands too close to his body. So Scott viewed films of himself when he was hitting well and found Aaron was right. Scott thereupon hit his first homer of the season in a 4-2 win over the Angels.
Jim Rice and Fred Lynn notwithstanding, Carl Yastrzemski says Boston teammate Dwight Evans is "the best outfielder in baseball." Last week as the Red Sox won three of four, Evans hit .429 and Yaz .538.
With Reggie Jackson still holding out, Baltimore (1-4) struggled for runs. Brooks Robinson hit. 200, the rest of the Orioles .170.
After being battered in his first two starts, Dennis Eckersley of Cleveland, the league's top rookie pitcher last year, came back to befuddle Oakland 3-0 with a two-hitter.
Slugging by Willie Horton enabled Detroit to split six games. But Catcher Milt May suffered a broken ankle and will be out for at least two months.
NY 8-3 MIL 6-3 BOS 6-5 DET 5-5 CLEV 4-5 BALT 4-7
Sports adages are usually trite, but the A's found deep meaning—and success—in the old line: the game is never over until the last man is out. Four times during the week, including three days in a row, they won in the last inning. First came Larry Haney's single in the 12th that defeated Baltimore 2-1. Then, after Joe Rudi doubled in the tying run in the ninth against Detroit, Phil Garner gave Oakland a 6-5 victory with a 10th-inning single. A day later, with the Tigers up 5-3 in the ninth, the A's tied the score on Rudi's single and won 6-5 on Don Baylor's hit. Oakland (4-2) also overhauled Cleveland when Rudi slammed a two-run homer in the ninth for the last of his 11 RBIs during the week.
The Twins (2-2) also proved the truth of the "last out" aphorism. Trailing the Yankees and Catfish Hunter 4-2 with one on in the ninth, they seemed doomed. But Hunter disobeyed Catcher Thurman Munson's signal for a low pitch on a 1-2 delivery to Lyman Bostock, who poked a fat slider into the seats to tie the score. It was Bostock's first major league home run in 387 at bats. Next up was rookie Butch Wynegar, who slammed his first homer for a 5-4 win.
Although it is not a baseball maxim, the Royals (2-3) found a lesson in that old saying: don't count your chickens (runs) before they're hatched (official). Not only did Kansas City lose a run, it also lost what would have been a 9-8 win over the Yankees and wound up losing by that margin instead It all happened because Jim Wohlford, who apparently had scored the go-ahead run, was out on an appeal play for missing third on his way home after a single by John Mayberry.
Dave Chalk hit .438, Bruce Bochte .389 and Bobby Bonds .400, but California still lost three of five. The wins came when Nolan Ryan muffled the Orioles 5-0 on three hits and 12 strikeouts and Frank Tanana subdued Baltimore 9-4 on five hits and 12 whiffs.
Manager Frank Lucchesi fumed when Tiger officials denied his request to have his Rangers take batting practice on a day off in Detroit. But the Rangers (2-3) got in their licks and held on to first place by pounding out nine hits in a 5-4 defeat of the Tigers.
Chicago (1-3) tried to cool it, wearing dark blue cutoff clamdigger-style trousers when the weather heated up. But the Blue Pants gave up 28 runs and were unable to nab any of eight base stealers.
TEX 7-5 OAK 7-6 KC 5-6 CHI 4-5 CAL 5-8 MINN 4-7
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WILLIE HORTON: The designated hitter for Detroit went 12 for 22 (.545), scored six times, drove across 11 runs and walloped three home runs, one of them a three-run blast that carried the Tigers to a 7-6 victory over the Rangers.