The Yankees were not sure they wanted to return home after opening a 5-2 week with a 6-3 win in Chicago. That gave them a sweep of a six-game road trip and a 22-6 season record away from home. They were 15-16 at Yankee Stadium. "Maybe we should be a team without a home park," said Pitcher Dock Ellis, making a suggestion that could have saved financially beleaguered New York City the $100 million or so it cost to refurbish the Stadium. There seemed to be real cause for concern about the Stadiumitis after the Yankees had lost two of the first three games in a four-game series with second-place Cleveland (4-3) and blown a 5-0 lead in the finale. Then Mickey Rivers' fourth hit of that game drove in a ninth-inning run to give New York a 6-5 win. The Yanks promptly took two more from Milwaukee to open their biggest first-place lead—eight games—since 1963.
The defending Eastern champion Red Sox (3-4) were bickering. The animosity of other Sox toward Carlton Fisk, Rick Burleson and Fred Lynn, all unsigned and all represented by agent Jerry Kapstein, was evident. Burleson and Jim Rice got into a shoving match and had to be separated by Coach Don Zimmer and captain Carl Yastrzemski. Then Yaz failed to appear when the rest of the Red Sox posed for the team picture. No reason was given for his absence. All this—and a fourth-place standing, 10 games behind New York—left Manager Darrell Johnson on thin ice; Zimmer is reportedly the heir apparent.
The Orioles (4-2) took two of three from the Red Sox, including a 3-2 victory that Bobby Grich won with a 10th-inning, two-run homer, and by week's end had reached .500, a game and a half ahead of Boston. Surprising Wayne Garland, a reliever before the recent 10-player trade with the Yankees that depleted the Orioles' rotation, won two complete games to bring his record to 8-0.
July 4, 1976
The Tigers (5-2) may not be contenders right now, but they are getting encouragement for the future from two rookies, Pitcher Mark Fidrych and First Baseman Jason Thompson. Fidrych, who has a 2.19 ERA, won two more starts to bring his record to 7-1. In both games he received home-run support from Thompson, who now has nine homers to lead Detroit in that category.
Milwaukee was 1-5 for the week and GM Jim Baumer criticized George Scott, last season's league RBI leader, for subpar hitting. Then Manager Alex Grammas demoted The Boomer from fourth to sixth in the batting order for a game against Detroit. Scott, who started the night with a .252 average, 32 runs batted in and six homers, responded with a home run, two singles, two RBIs and some words of his own. "Quote me as saying that he [Baumer] can get on a uniform and come down here and play himself," he said. "I think my talent enables me to play baseball anywhere in America or anywhere out of America.... If you don't like the way I'm producing, then, hey, get rid of me. Nobody's got any strings attached here."
NY 41-24 CLEV 33-32 BALT 33-33 BOS 31-34 DET 31-35 MIL 25-37
The A's won four of seven and gained two games on division-leading Kansas City, but there was no joy in Oakland. Owner Charles O. Finley named Commissioner Bowie Kuhn as the chief defendant in a $10 million lawsuit arising out of Kuhn's voiding two weeks ago of the $3.5 million sale of three Oakland stars, Pitcher Vida Blue (to the Yankees) and Reliever Rollie Fingers and Outfielder Joe Rudi (both to the Red Sox). And when Finley failed to put Blue, Fingers and Rudi back in uniform, Kuhn told him to reinstate the players. Finley did so, but refused to allow the trio to appear in any games. Then Oakland's other players agreed to strike if Finley continued to keep Blue, Fingers and Rudi on the bench. Finley threatened to bring up the Tucson Toros, his Pacific Coast League affiliate, if the A's struck, whereupon the owner of the Salt Lake City Gulls of the PCL threatened to sue Finley if he was left without an opponent. That helped persuade Finley to drop his idea of using minor-leaguers. The next day he acceded to the demands of Kuhn and the A's players and permitted Manager Chuck Tanner to start using Blue, Fingers and Rudi on a regular basis. That would seem to settle the dispute until Aug. 2, when the court is scheduled to begin hearing Finley's suit against Kuhn.
Bert Blyleven, whose $300,000 sale by Minnesota to Texas was approved by the commissioner, won his first two games for the Rangers (5-3) after three successive losses. Both victories came by 1-0 scores in 10 innings, and in one of them Blyleven gave up only one hit.
Kansas City's losing streak reached six when the Royals dropped a two-game series to Texas, but as soon as the Rangers' Manager Frank Lucchesi said, "Their team has done a complete turnabout.... Our guys think they can be had," the Royals (2-5) perked up and took two from the Angels (2-5). In the first victory, John Mayberry, a warm-weather hitter, broke out of a 2-for-20 slump with two homers and five RBIs. He added another RBI the next night as Marty Pattin and Steve Mingori combined for a one-hit shutout.
The White Sox (5-4) stopped a 10-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak. Minnesota won three of eight as Rod Carew, American League batting champion the last four seasons, collected 15 hits, including a grand slam homer, and moved his average up to .327, fifth best in the league.
KC 41-26 TEX 38-28 OAK 34-36 CHI 32-35 MINN 32-36 CAL 29-44
Philadelphia (5-2) downed World Champion Cincinnati three times to run its record against the Reds this season to 6-2. Particularly effective was Ron Reed, a reliever who dreams of starting. But he has been so strong in relief that he cannot escape the bullpen. Reed won one of the games against Cincy on two scoreless innings of relief and helped preserve another. He took over with the bases loaded and none out in the sixth inning, struck out Tony Perez and Johnny Bench and induced Ken Griffey to hit a routine fly ball. Philadelphia has already drawn more than a million spectators, and the normally cantankerous fans are getting downright appreciative. They gave Dick Allen, once the favorite target of their boos, such a long ovation after his second home run in a 12-4 win over the Cardinals that the umpire finally waved him out of the dugout to take a bow. Allen had been in a 0-for-9 slump, but when a car door slammed on his right hand, he promptly went on a 5-for-8 streak that included three homers, two doubles and six RBIs. Still, Reds' Manager Sparky Anderson remained unconvinced by the Phillies. "There are a lot of games left," he said. "Pittsburgh will be heard from before it's over."
Perhaps. The Pirates (3-3) blew a 4-1 lead while losing 9-4 to Houston, then dropped a game to Chicago 6-5 when five errors allowed five unearned runs. Willie Stargell hit his 378th home run and moved up to 20th on the alltime homer list, one ahead of Norm Cash.
The Cubs' pitching staff, which has given up an average of 10 hits a game, reached a new low when it allowed the punchless Mets (3-3) 27 hits and 17 runs in two straight losses at the end of a 2-4 week. New York's Mike Phillips ended an 0-for-22 streak against Chicago pitching by hitting for the cycle, Dave Kingman crashed his 24th and 25th home runs and John Milner, who was benched for not running out a pop fly in the first Chicago game, came back with a grand slam in the second.
St. Louis split six games, while last-place Montreal dropped six of eight. The Expo pitching was weak, the hitting feeble (.234) and the fielding shoddy (11 errors).
PHIL 47-20 PITT 38-28 NY 36-37 ST.L 31-38 CHI 30-39 MONT 23-41
The surging Braves won seven of nine games, one of them Andy Messersmith's fifth successive complete-game victory. To help Atlanta pitchers who can't go the route, the Braves acquired Reliever Mike Marshall from Los Angeles in exchange for Lee Lacy and Elias Sosa. Marshall was having a mediocre year—eight saves, a 4-3 record and a 4.43 ERA—but prior to his arrival the entire Atlanta staff had only 10 saves. Marshall promptly saved a win over San Diego for Roger Moret, but the next day was charged with a loss when he surrendered a two-run homer to the Padres' Jerry Turner. Rowland Office had his hitting streak stopped at 29 games by Montreal's Don Stanhouse.
Sixth-place San Francisco (6-2) had five wins in a row. First Baseman Darrell Evans, who was hitting .173 when he was acquired by the Giants two weeks ago, pounded out two homers, a triple and three doubles and drove in eight runs.
San Diego (4-5) started out with three straight wins, then dropped four in a row, including a 7-6, 8-7 doubleheader loss to the Giants during which the Padres outhit San Francisco 31 to 17. Randy Jones won his 13th game with a four-hitter, but later was unable to pick up his 14th, despite holding a seventh-inning 7-1 lead over the Braves. Jones did tie Christy Mathewson's National League record of 68 consecutive innings without a walk before issuing a pass to the Giants' Marc Hill.
The Padres' three wins moved them briefly in front of Los Angeles (2-5), giving San Diego President Buzzie Bavasi, who used to work for the Dodgers, "one of my biggest thrills in baseball." Bavasi's excitement was short-lived as the Dodgers scored a two-game sweep over Houston (3-4) and moved back into second.
Cincinnati (3-4) was hobbled with injuries to Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan and had George Foster on the sick list, but swept a two-game series from the Dodgers to keep LA at bay. When ex-Red farmhand Joaquin Andujar two-hit his former teammates for Houston earlier in the year, Manager Sparky Anderson, predicting that it would not happen again, said, "Every dog has his day." Last week Andujar shut out the Reds 3-0.
CIN 43-28 LA 39-33 SD 37-34 ATL 33-38 HOUS 32-39 SF 30-44
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MICKEY RIVERS: The Yankees' speedy center-fielder hit .500, won one game with a home run and another by beating out a high chop with the bases loaded, twice had four hits in a game and raised his season's batting average to .324.