"He's the only guy who ever had the decency to write and thank me for trying to help him," said Mets General Manager Joe McDonald of Brent Strom, a former New York Met pitcher now with San Diego (3-1). "He's got class." Strom, who in recent seasons has had to resort to cortisone, acupuncture and surgery for his ailing left arm, proved his class on the mound, too. He stopped the Mets 4-0 on two hits, outdueling Tom Seaver, who had an 18-1 lifetime mark against the Padres. Strom later beat the Cubs 7-4. Reliever Butch Metzger's string of scoreless innings was stopped at 20‚Öî, but he gained his fourth save, and Randy Jones won for the sixth time, cooling off the Phillies 4-0.
Overpowering pitching and home runs buoyed Cincinnati (4-1) and Los Angeles (4-2). Gary Nolan of the Reds blanked the Pirates 6-0 as only 32 of his 109 pitches were called balls, and rookie Santo Alcala bamboozled the Mets 2-0 on four hits. The Reds walloped 10 home runs, six in a 14-2 drubbing of the Cubs. Don Sutton of the Dodgers downed the Cardinals 4-0, and Reliever Mike Marshall hurled 7‚Öì scoreless innings in picking up a couple of wins and his seventh save. The Dodgers slugged nine homers, including three each by Ron Cey and Joe Ferguson and one by Steve Yeager, who hit his for Stinky. Stinky is the nickname of Yeager's fiancée, and his home run on her behalf helped L.A. beat Pittsburgh 3-2.
Houston and Atlanta were both 2-3. Clift Johnson homered in each Astro victory. The biggest hit for the Braves was a ninth-inning single by Rowland Office that won an 8-7 skirmish with the Mets and halted a 13-game losing streak.
May 23, 1976
Nothing. That's what the Giant (3-4) offense generated for 35 innings. But after being shut out three times in a row, San Francisco closed the week with a flourish, erupting for a 9-5 win over the Cubs, then having Mike Caldwell and Gary Lavelle combine for an 11-inning, 2-0 defeat of the Cards.
CIN 18-11 LA 19-12 SD 15-14 HOUS 15-17 SF 11-20 ATL 10-20
Phiadelphia's Jim Lonborg raised his record to 5-0 as he "blackballed" Los Angeles 10-3 and Houston 2-1. With his slider repeatedly catching the black edges of the plate, Lonborg did not give up a hit for 6‚Öì innings against the Dodgers and for 5‚Öî innings against the Astros. Other winners: Steve Carlton 9-1 over San Diego and Larry Christenson 5-1 over Houston. Mike Schmidt unloaded his 13th and 14th home runs, tying Dave Kingman of the Mets (1-4) for the major league lead. Kingman socked his 13th and 14th as Jerry Koosman throttled Atlanta 6-3.
The Pirates, who are supposed to be long on power and short on pitching, hit only two homers yet won three of five games because of nifty hurling. Jim Rooker trimmed Cincinnati 6-3, Jerry Reuss beat Atlanta 5-2 and Doc Medich stopped Los Angeles 4-2.
Montreal (3-3) also got some badly needed pitching. Two-hitters were tossed by Steve Rogers, who beat the Giants 8-0, and by Dan Warthen, who downed the Braves 6-1.
With his pitching staff's season ERA a sky-high 5.69 after being shelled for 28 runs in the previous two games and with several of his hurlers out with arm troubles and the flu, Chicago (2-3) Manager Jim Marshall feared further bombings. But sore-armed Ken Frailing and Oscar Zamora teamed up to defeat the Giants 4-0, and Rick Reuschel and Mike Garman combined to beat them 1-0. Steve Swisher drove in the run in the second win with an 11th-inning single.
It was a dismal week for Manager Red Schoendienst of the Cardinals (1-5). While fishing on an off day, he let a large bass slip off his hook. His players let games slip away because of inept hitting (.216 and no homers), weak pitching (27 runs allowed) and miscues such as Al Hrabosky's wild pitch that allowed both runs to score in a 2-0 loss to the Giants.
PHIL 18-8 PITT 17-11 NY 19-13 ST.L 13-18 CHI 13-18 MONT 11-17
After 10 straight losses, the Red Sox were willing to try anything, even a "witch" by the name of Laurie Cabot, who lives, naturally, in Salem. The Ms. from Mass. hoped to end Boston's losing spell by altering the "energy fields" surrounding the Red Sox players. "This is a pure science," she insisted before attempting her cure in Cleveland. "It has nothing to do with the devil." Nonetheless, the Indians' game went to hell. They balked across a run, blew a 4-1 lead and First Baseman John Lowenstein committed three errors. "It wasn't the witch," said Lowenstein after the Indians lost to the Red Sox 6-4 in 12 innings. "It was simply a matter of incompetence."
The next day the Indians dressed up former ball girl Debbie Berndt in a white gown and white wig and dubbed her their fairy godmother. Her job was to counteract Cabot, and to that end she sprinkled Tribe Center-fielder Rick Manning with "magic dust." Covering Manning's glove with glue might have been more beneficial, because he misplayed one ball into a triple and committed a three-base error on another. When the fairy godmother left the park in the eighth inning with the Indians already well on their way to a 7-5 loss, the fans gave her a tumultuous sendoff—of boos.
Boston (4-2) continued its turnabout by toppling Milwaukee 2-1 and 9-4. Playing in Detroit without their unlucky lady, the Indians (2-4) beat the Tigers 6-3 as both Manning and Rico Carty (.545 for the week) had four hits.
Surprising Detroit (3-3) climbed to second place by winning three one-run games. After being one strike from a 3-2 loss to New York, the Tigers rallied for a 4-3 verdict; their next win was 3-2 over the Yankees on Rusty Staub's three-run homer in the eighth inning. Then rookie Mike Fidrych, who is called Bird because he incessantly chirps (baseball jargon for talks) to the ball, telling it what to do, gave only two hits and defeated the Indians 2-1.
The Tigers could have gained even more ground on division-leading New York (2-4) if they had not handed the Yankees a 7-6 victory by making three errors on one play (page 13). Sparky Lyle preserved that win for New York and later picked up his seventh save of the season in a 7-3 triumph over the Orioles.
Baltimore (4-2) advanced to third place as Reggie Jackson drove in nine runs, and Jim Palmer became the league's first five-game winner by stopping Milwaukee 5-3. The Brewers, who had started the season fast, dropped all six of their games and fell to fourth.
NY 17-9 DET 13-11 BALT 13-14 MIL 10-12 CLEV 12-15 BOS 10-15
Zap! Bam! Crash! The fastest bats were in the West, the Royals (6-1) leading the barrage by hitting .347. A 22-hit, 17-5 mauling of the Twins by Kansas City was followed by a 16-hit, 13-2 pasting of the White Sox. Triggering the Royals' attack were George Brett, Hal McRae (.500), Al Cowens (10 RBIs) and Amos Otis (three homers). Kansas City also stole a dozen bases.
The Rangers (5-2) did not hit as vigorously as the Royals, but they excelled at coming through in the clutch. Juan Beniquez singled to set up the winning run in the eighth as Texas topped Boston 6-5, then tripled and scored the game winner in the ninth to overcome Chicago 6-5. Bill Singer beat California 1-0, with Jeff Burroughs driving in the-only run in the eighth, and Gaylord Perry downed Oakland 4-3 in 10 innings when Lenny Randle tripled and Mike Hargrove singled. No one has pitched a complete game so far against the Rangers, who have won all their meetings with last year's divisional champions—five against the A's and seven against the Red Sox.
Minnesota (5-2) swept a doubleheader from California 5-2 and 15-5, Dan Ford leading a 31-hit outburst with six hits and six RBIs. Earlier Lyman Bostock's double in the 10th had beaten the Royals 5-4.
Appearing in his fifth straight game, Oakland (3-2) Reliever Paul Lindblad yielded just one hit in seven innings and emerged a 4-3 victor over the Yankees.
Chicago (2-4) snapped Texas' eight-game winning streak when Ralph Garr wrapped up a 7-6 battle with a double in the 11th. That was the only bright spot for the White Sox, who may have lost Pitcher Wilbur Wood for the season after his kneecap was fractured by a line drive.
Although Bobby Bonds stole four bases, hit three homers and drove in 10 runs, California lost six of eight games.
TEX 19-8 KC 16-9 MINN 14-12 OAK 14-15 CHI 8-15 CAL 11-22
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GEORGE BRETT: The Kansas City third baseman, who set a major league record by getting three hits in six consecutive games, scored eight runs, drove in five and rapped out 17 hits in 29 appearances at the plate for a .586 average.