Minnesta got a big lift from two homegrown pitchers and Chicago received foreign aid via a hurler from Mexico, but Texas got no help from its imported prize, Bert Blyleven. The Twins (5-2) were bolstered by Dave Goltz, who was born in Pelican Rapids, Minn., and by Tom Burgmeier of St. Paul. Goltz (6-2) beat Cleveland 7-2, and reliever Burgmeier (3-0) blanked Boston for six innings in a 10-4 win, slicing his ERA to 0.74, the best in the majors. Rookie Francisco Barrios of Chicago (4-3), who was born in Hermosillo, Mexico, picked up his first big-league save when he held off Cleveland 3-2 in relief. Then, during a Mexican fiesta in Milwaukee, Barrios won his first start by downing the Brewers 12-5 on his 23rd birthday. Blyleven, who hails from Zeist, Holland, had given up only three homers in 106 innings before being tagged for three more in a 7-5 loss to New York. Texas (5-1), though, stayed in hot pursuit of Kansas City (page 22).
Two slow-starting A's (4-3) were also on the move. Gene Tenace, who had not homered all year, did so four times. And Rollie Fingers, who had only four saves in the season's first nine weeks, doubled his total.
Leading the majors in strikeouts was Frank Tanana of California (1-5), who fanned 10 as he handcuffed New York 2-0. That gave him 113 strikeouts in 112 innings.
June 20, 1976
KC 35-19 TEX 31-21 CHI 27-24 MINN 27-26 OAK 27-30 CAL 23-36
The Red Sox (3-3) were again buffeted by the internal storms that have unsettled them this season. At the vortex were Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn and Rick Burleson, all unsigned and all on the verge of being dealt away before the June 15 trading deadline. Fisk and Manager Darrell Johnson had a shouting match on Friday. The next day Fisk missed the team bus to the ball park, arrived late and was benched. When another bus left Fenway Park to take the Sox to the airport for the start of a road trip, Lynn and Burleson chanted, "Goodby, Fenway. Goodby, Fenway." Said one Boston official, "Strictly bush." The Sox hadn't helped matters when they lost two of three games against Oakland despite hitting eight home runs.
Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver, normally the most loquacious of men, said, "I just don't know what to say." Rendering him tongue-tied were eight straight losses, during which the Orioles were outscored 48-22 as they fell from second place to fifth. Reggie Jackson, however, spoke up. After Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Royals in which teammate Lee May was twice hit by pitches, Jackson said that if Oriole pitchers did not "hit somebody tomorrow, then I'll walk off this team. But first I'll fight them [the Royals] myself. So I get whipped. So what?"
When it came to speaking up, Player-Manager Frank Robinson of Cleveland (3-4) let his bat do the talking. After refusing to allow the White Sox extra time between games of a doubleheader in Chicago for an on-field promotion, Robinson was told that Sox President Bill Veeck might cancel his scheduled trip to Cleveland for a Welcome Back game. Robinson thereupon relented. He got in his licks five days later, celebrating Welcome Back Veeck Night in Municipal Stadium with a two-run pinch homer in the 13th for a 5-4 Indian win.
Two other dramatic homers helped New York (4-3) build its lead to six games. Oscar Gamble's three-run blast in the ninth scuttled Oakland 5-2, and Graig Nettles' two-run drive in the eighth beat Texas 7-5.
After being bombed 16-6 by the Rangers and 10-0 by the Royals, the Tigers got good pitching and won four straight. Dave Roberts cooled off Kansas City 3-1, and rookie Mark Fidrych beat California 4-3.
"We've turned the corner with this victory," said Pitcher Jim Colborn of Milwaukee (3-3) after Sixto Lezcano's single in the 14th had beaten Kansas City 4-3. Around that corner, though, came three losses in the next five games. For his own part, Colborn muffled Oakland 4-2, hurling a five-hitter and benefiting from a newfangled version of the old hidden ball trick. The Brewers were awarded a run after a pitch by Paul Lindblad bounced in front of the plate, hit Catcher Tim Hosley in the throat and lodged inside his chest protector. Amid much confusion, the umpires correctly waved home Lezcano, who had been on third base.
NY 31-21 CLEV 25-27 BOS 24-27 DET 24-28 BALT 24-30 MIL 20-29
"We can't knock the fuzz off peaches the way we're swinging," lamented Met Manager Joe Frazier. He may have understated the slump: in five losses the Mets (2-5) scored just four runs and were shut out three times.
The way the Phillies (6-1) were swinging, it seemed they might knock the stitches off the ball. Seven times Philadelphia scored four or more runs in one inning, topping off the barrage with a six-run fifth during a 14-2 trampling of the Dodgers in which they batted around for the 17th time this season. The Phils also got three hits and three RBIs from Pitcher Jim Kaat as he beat the Giants 9-3.
Another hurler who hit was reliever Bob Moose of Pittsburgh (3-4). Moose socked the first homer of his nine-year career in a 6-2 defeat of Atlanta and also notched another win and his eighth save.
Rick Monday bopped his 11th homer as Chicago (3-4) snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-6 win over Atlanta. St. Louis (2-4), though, extended its games-without-a-home-run string to nine. Slumping Lou Brock (.270) even tried batting righthanded for the first time in his 15 years in the majors. He struck out.
Others' troubles paled when compared to those of the Expos (2-4). Four second-year players on whom Manager Karl Kuehl was counting had miserable stats: Gary Carter was hitting .239, Pete Mackanin .223 and Larry Parrish .222, and Dan Warthen had a 4.59 ERA and 1-6 record. What's more, Pepe Mangual, the team's top hitter (.292), suffered a concussion when Carter, a catcher playing right field, crashed into him while chasing a line drive. Carter emerged from the collision with a badly broken left thumb. And that's not all. Andre Thornton, who had come out of an 0 for 31 slump, broke the middle finger of his left hand several days later. Clearly, something had to be done to give the team a boost. After much thought, Kuehl decided to make the big move: he rescinded the club rule against mustaches. Silly? Maybe so, but the Expos, weary of keeping stiff—and barren—upper lips, went right out and whipped the Giants 9-4.
PHIL 38-15 PITT 31-25 NY 28-32 CHI 25-31 ST.L 24-32 MONT 19-30
John Montefusco of San Francisco (2-4) showed New Yorkers how good he is, Randy Jones of the Padres (4-3) continued to show San Diegans how good he is and the Reds (5-2) showed everybody how good they are. "I've got to prove to the people in New York I'm as good as Tom Seaver," said Montefusco. After buying $2,650 worth of clothes, the Count did just that, bedazzling the Mets 5-0 on three hits. San Diegans have been flocking to see Jones, an average of 32,663 showing up at San Diego Stadium when he pitches compared to 18,905 when he is not scheduled. With 42,972 on hand, Jones (11-2) ran his string of innings without a walk to 46 as he beat the Mets 3-0. And then there were the Reds, and a teamful of impressive performances. They walloped a dozen homers, four by Tony Perez, whose three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth overcame St. Louis 8-7. Joe Morgan swung a hot bat and so did Pete Rose, who had 10 hits. And Bill Plummer, filling in for ailing Catcher Johnny Bench, homered and had seven RBIs in a 13-2 drubbing of St. Louis. Cincinnati did not win by hitting alone. Against Pittsburgh, Gary Nolan threw just 78 pitches, only 20 of them balls, as he won 6-1.
Working with Batting Coach Dixie Walker on "meeting the ball and driving through" paid off for Steve Garvey of Los Angeles (4-3). Garvey singled, doubled and tripled in a 7-4 win over Montreal, then singled and homered as the Dodgers beat the Expos 4-3.
Some fine pitching buoyed the Astros (4-3) and Braves (3-3). Houston won a pair of 2-0 decisions, Joaquin Andujar defeating Chicago with a two-hitter and Larry Dierker disposing of St. Louis on five hits. Atlanta was also a 2-0 winner when Andy Messersmith held Chicago to three hits.
CIN 36-21 LA 34-25 SD 29-26 HOUS 29-31 ATL 22-33 SF 23-36
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOE MORGAN: Despite a pulled hamstring, the Cincinnati second baseman went 10 for 14 (.714), scored nine times, drove in nine runs and in two straight games slugged a pair of homers to bring his season's total to 11.