After striking out with runners on second and third to conclude a 2-1 loss to the Cubs, Dave Kingman of the Mets (3-5) did his King Kong number in the clubhouse—smashing a bottle of hair tonic, kicking a duffel bag, air-mailing coat hangers and shattering his hair dryer. The next day in Los Angeles, Kingman chatted with Rod Dedeaux, his college coach at USC. "Hit the first good pitch tonight," Dedeaux told him. Then teammate Joe Torre advised Kingman that he was not following through on his swing. Armed with advice, Kingman swung at the first pitches thrown to him in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, followed through and hit his 18th, 19th and 20th homers. He had eight RBIs as Tom Seaver, winless for a month, beat the Dodgers 11-0. Kingman hit his 21st the next night to give Jon Matlack a 3-1 win over the Dodgers.
Like Kingman, Tim Foli of the Expos also was upset. Foli, though, was mad at rookie Manager Karl Kuehl—not his hair dryer. When Kuehl ordered an intentional walk in one game, Shortstop Foli wanted the Montreal hurler to ignore the manager's instructions. "Kuehl can't manage this team by himself," Foli insisted. "I don't need Foli's help," Kuehl retorted. Kuehl promptly replaced Foli with Pepe Frias, but Frias made three errors in one game and was, in turn, replaced by Foli. The peace was tenuous at best. The Expos (1-5) were inept at least.
Strong pitching kept Philadelphia (4-4) in first place (page 28). Jim Lonborg beat Montreal 7-1 on five hits, Jim Kaat subdued Chicago 4-1 on six hits, Ron Reed tamed the Cubs 6-1 on four and Tom Underwood downed St. Louis 4-1 on five as the Phillies rolled to 25 victories in their last 30 games. Then it was Philly-buster time: Bob Forsch of St. Louis (3-3) stopped the Phillies 7-1, and they lost two straight to the Giants.
Bill Robinson of Pittsburgh (5-3) played first base, third base, center field and right field last week but still found time to hit three home runs in one game. Rick Monday hit his 10th homer as Chicago (3-5) toppled Philadelphia 7-5 and had three hits as the Cubs beat the Mets 5-3.
PHIL 32-14 PITT 28-21 NY 26-27 CHI 22-27 ST.L 22-28 MONT 17-27
George Foster hit his ninth, 10th and 11th homers and drove in 10 runs, giving him a league-leading 49, as Cincinnati (5-3) moved past Los Angeles (3-5) into first place. Charlie Hough, the Dodgers' knuckleballer, gave up just two hits in 8‚Öî innings of relief for his sixth and seventh victories without a loss. Andy Messersmith of the Braves (3-3) threw a one-hitter at Montreal in a 2-0 Atlanta victory, Pepe Mangual ruining his no-hitter with a one-out single in the ninth. Ed Halicki had a 2-8 record and San Francisco (4-3) had a ticket to the minors waiting for him. But Halicki shut out Los Angeles on two hits 6-0, then stopped the Phillies 4-2. Joe Niekro hit a home run off his brother Phil as Houston (6-2) beat the Braves 4-3. Rookie Joaquin Andujar of the Astros defeated the Reds 2-1 with a two-hitter; Mike Cosgrove stopped the Cubs 1-0; and Reliever Ken Forsch notched his 10th, 11th and 12th saves. Randy Jones of San Diego (3-2) became the first 10-game winner in the majors, beating San Francisco 4-3.
CIN 31-19 LA 30-22 SD 25-23 HOUS 25-28 SF 21-32 ATL 19-30
Eerie things happened almost everywhere: the A's arose from their "coffin," the White Sox emerged from the fog and retiree Tommy Davis reappeared as an Angel. When the A's left home after losing two of three to the first-place Royals and falling eight games off the lead, one Oakland writer said, "The remains of the A's were shipped East for public viewing. Large crowds are expected to file past the open coffin to pay tribute to the fallen champs." But the A's (3-3) came to life in New York, beating the Yanks 6-4 and 7-6.
With the bases loaded in the first inning, rookie Chet Lemon of the White Sox lofted an ordinary fly ball to left field, but Ranger Leftfielder Tom Grieve did not have the foggiest notion where it was. Dropping from the peasouper, the ball fell for a triple and the Sox (4-2) won 9-4.
Released by the Yankees before Opening Day, Tommy Davis, convinced his 16-year career was over, took a job with a record company. Desperate for hitting, the Angels signed Davis on Wednesday: he flew to Minnesota and that night hit a two-run pinch-hit single to snap a tie and lead the Angels (4-2) to a 5-2 victory.
There was nothing strange about the Royals (6-1): they frolicked, as usual, this time against Oakland, stealing nine bases in 5-2 and 4-3 victories. Freddie Patek scored the tying run against the A's in the ninth inning one night by racing home from second base on a fly ball to center field.
When Texas obtained Pitcher Bert Blyleven and Infielder Danny Thompson from the Twins for Pitchers Bill Singer and Jim Gideon, Shortstop Roy Smalley and Third Baseman Mike Cubbage the big name was Blyleven. But in his first game with the Rangers (2-4), Thompson went 4 for 4 during a 14-3 drubbing of Detroit. Blyleven's first outing, on the other hand, produced a 3-2 loss to the Tigers. Joked Catcher Jim Sundberg: "Say, who was the throw-in we got in the Thompson deal?"
Smalley was immediately inserted into the Minnesota (2-4) lineup by his uncle, Twins Manager Gene Mauch. Larry Hisle hit for the cycle in the Twins' 8-6 victory over Baltimore, climaxing the night with a game-winning two-run homer in the 10th inning.
KC 30-17 TEX 26-20 CHI 23-21 MINN 22-24 OAK 23-27 CAL 22-31
Bicentennial or not, even the Boston Red Sox had to admit baseball should not be played with cherry bombs bursting in air. In the midst of an 8-3 loss to New York, Red Sox fans threw cherry bombs, flashlight batteries, golf balls, beer bottles and sundry other items at Yankee Centerfielder Mickey Rivers, whom they cast as the principal villain in last month's brawl between the clubs in New York. After New York (3-3) moved eight games in front of the Red Sox (3-3) with a 7-2 victory on Ed Figueroa's four-hitter, Boston Manager Darrell Johnson promptly called a team meeting. "He kind of simplified the game," said Outfielder Dwight Evans. "We were making the game kind of tough." Luis Tiant then simplified everything, muzzling the Yankees 8-2 for his seventh win.
Cleveland (3-3) swept a doubleheader from Baltimore (2-4). With Frank Duffy hitting barely .200, the Indians started Larvell Blanks at shortstop; he had four hits in the opening game as the Indians won 4-1, then hit a two-run homer to key their 4-3 triumph in the second game. Blanks also killed a ninth-inning Oriole rally in the latter game with a superb fielding play. In Baltimore's first June game, it was May who busted out all over: Lee May hit a two-run homer in the 14th to beat Cleveland 2-0.
Four dramatic wins over Milwaukee (2-7) helped Detroit (5-3) escape the cellar. The Tigers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to tie the Brewers 3-3, then beat them 5-4 on Tom Veryzer's 11th-inning single. Reliever John Hiller won both ends of the ensuing twinighter, with Milwaukee Reliever Eduardo (Edweirdo to his teammates) Rodriguez losing both. Trailing 6-0 at one point, the Tigers won the opener 8-7 with three ninth-inning runs on three singles, an error, a bases-loaded walk and a game-ending wild pitch by Ed-weirdo. The Tigers won the nightcap 6-5 on a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth by Ben Oglivie. The next day Oglivie slammed a two-run, inside-the-park pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning and the Tigers won again 6-4. Milwaukee avoided a series sweep by taking the fifth game 6-2 behind lefthander Bill Travers, who also won the Brewers" other game, stopping Cleveland 5-4.
NY 27-18 BALT 24-22 CLEVE 22-23 BOS 21-24 DET 21-25 MIL 17-26
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JORGE ORTA: The White Sox third baseman batted .393, scored seven runs, had seven RBIs and hit three home runs. Orta homered in a 4-3 win over Oakland; singled to defeat Texas 1-0; and tripled and doubled to beat Cleveland 4-1.