"Every time I catch we draw 50,000 people," is how Bruce Kimm explains the record-breaking crowds in Detroit (3-4). Of course, Kimm cannot keep a straight face since he seldom plays unless the man everybody really comes to see, rookie sensation Mark Fidrych, is on the mound. Their partnership began in the minor leagues and last week Kimm repaid Fidrych for some of that reflected glory by socking his first major league home run. There were 51,822 screaming fans in Tiger Stadium at the time and Kimm's homer helped The Bird win his 14th game of the season. The last rookie to win 20 was Bob Grim of the Yankees in 1954.
A barrage of 10 homers in six games gave New York (3-3) the league lead of 95 in that department. Oscar Gamble had three, Graig Nettles and Roy White two apiece and Shortstop Fred Stanley unloaded his first round-tripper since Sept. 8, 1973.
The Red Sox (4-4) staggered home from a road-trip closer to last place than first and Outfielder Jim Rice's performance showed what a difference a year can make. Rice stranded eight runners in one game and went 11 games without an RBI. Back home in Fenway Park, Boston took a 2-1 thriller from Oakland in the ninth when Butch Hobson drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly. Luis Tiant outdueled Mike Torrez and Rollie Fingers to earn his 14th victory and Manager Don Zimmer said, "If we hadn't won that one, we probably never would have won another."
August 29, 1976
Baltimore had only a so-so week (4-3) although it was usually well ahead after three innings. Leading Chicago 6-2 after three in one game, the Orioles finished with 10 runs and 22 hits and still lost, 11-10.
Utility Infielder Jack Heidemann and Centerfielder Gorman Thomas, both hitting in the low .200s, won games for Milwaukee (4-3), Heidemann with a two-run single against the A's and Thomas with a three-run homer against Kansas City.
A wave of nostalgia must have swept over ex-slugger Boog Powell of Cleveland (4-4), who socked his fifth home run in the last 11 games, giving him seven for the year.
NY 72-47 BALT 62-57 CLEV 59-62 DET 58-63 BOST 57-63 MIL 53-64
The Oakland A's (2-4) lost control of their tempers as they fell 9½ games behind Kansas City and saw their chances for a sixth consecutive division title all but disappear. The frustration even affected Designated Hitter Billy Williams, usually a mild-mannered soul, who flew off the handle at a pair of strike calls by Plate Umpire Bill Kunkel. When Williams was slow returning to the batter's box, Kunkel signaled Pitcher Danny Frisella to throw the ball and. in accordance with baseball rules, Kunkel then called Williams out on strikes. In the ensuing argument he tossed Williams out of a game for the first time in his 17-year career. Undaunted, A's Owner Charlie Finley proclaimed, "Put a big sign in the clubhouse that reads 'Kansas City Is Gonna Choke.' "
Sorry Charlie, but the Royals (5-2) look as unflappable as the other three division leaders. Pitchers Andy Hassler and Marty Pattin, whose combined records are 9-17, each won twice. Hassler's best effort was a two-hit shutout against Milwaukee, while Pattin needed only 70 pitches to dispose of Cleveland, 6-1. George Brett, a .341 hitter, found a new way to help his club with a game-winning, 10th-inning steal of home, against the Indians. Said Brett, "People think I can't run because I wear my uniform funny."
Most of the excitement in Chicago's 4-4 week was put there by Owner Bill Veeck, whose half-price Musical Instrument Night attracted a fan with an 18-foot kazoo and another who brought a piano to the park. Veeck gave away 5,000 kazoos and Henry Mazur of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra directed the fans in a spirited rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Veeck immediately submitted the attendance figure—10,636—to the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest band.
Minnesota's relief ace Bill Campbell finished all five of the Twins' victories and now has 16 saves to go with his 12-3 record. Minnesota (5-3) announced that it may play some exhibition games in New Orleans next year. Considering that the Twins have played 30-19 ball during the day this year as opposed to a 31-43 mark at night, perhaps they should work out an arrangement with the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.
Bert Blyleven stopped a six-game losing streak for Texas (2-6) with a three-hit shutout of Cleveland, and Gaylord Perry beat his old mates the next day with a seven-hitter.
That strange whizzing sound heard last week over Detroit was no UFO. It was Nolan Ryan's fastball, which he used to strike out 17 Tigers during an 11-inning 5-4 victory for California (3-3). Afterward, Ryan said his arm, operated on last September, was finally sound. "There is no pain whatsoever and the velocity is as good as ever." No Tiger batter has called up Ryan to disagree.
KC 74-47 OAK 65-57 MINN 61-62 TEX 58-64 CHI 53-69 CAL 53-70
The Dodgers (6-0) are trying to create a race where there doesn't appear to be one. Three come-from-behind victories over the Mets and some superb pitching by Don Sutton, who had a perfect game against Pittsburgh for 7‚Öî innings, increased Los Angeles' winning streak to six and gave Cincinnati something to think about.
The Reds (3-4) won two one-run games and lost four others as Pete Rose bunted his way out of a 1-for-31 slump for his 2,700th major league hit.
San Diego (2-3) took third place even though Randy Jones failed to win his 20th game and saw his record "sag" to 19-8.
"A lot of people have asked why the Astros won and lost in streaks this year," said Houston Manager Bill Virdon after a 2-5 week in which he was rehired for next year. "Our winning streaks have been mainly against second-line teams, the losing ones against the division leaders." As if to disprove Virdon, rookie Pitcher Dan Larson went out and beat the Phillies 8-3, getting three hits himself and knocking in four runs.
Carl Morton won twice to keep Atlanta (4-3) comfortably ahead of the Giants (4-2). Bobby Murcer was San Francisco's hottest hitter. He had nine RBIs and stroked three home runs, one of which was the first home run off Montreal Reliever Dale Murray in 247‚Öì innings over a three-year period.
CIN 79-45 LA 68-54 SD 60-65 HOUS 60-66 ATL 57-67 SF 54-71
The Phillies (4-2) began to reap the first real rewards of their stunning season in a 7-1 victory over Houston. Steve Carlton, the 1972 Cy Young Award winner, improved his record to 15-4; last season the 6'4" lefty was 15-14. Third Baseman Mike Schmidt ripped his 32nd home run to tie the Mets' Dave Kingman for the major league lead. Jay Johnstone (see box) took over the National League lead in hitting, and Philadelphia has now drawn 2,009,930, the most in the history of the franchise.
Another tall lefthander is making waves in the East. Six foot, seven inch John Candelaria of Pittsburgh (4-3) shut out the Giants 1-0 to run his record to 12-4 and his undefeated streak to eight games.
Montreal (0-5) lost its seventh straight game and looked worse than that. Particularly Outfielder Warren Cromartie, whose accomplishments included: misplaying a line drive that started a five-run Phillie rally; rounding third base after a teammate's base hit, slipping and being tagged out; and swinging at an intentional-walk pitch and flying out.
Lou Brock of St. Louis (3-3) is hot on the trail of Ty Cobb's alltime stolen-base record. He swiped five in two games to give him 43 for the year, only one behind league leader Frank Taveras and 40 short of Cobb. The Brock family also produced a piece of history for which there are no records: Lou banged out five hits against San Diego on the same night that cousin Dale Brock had five hits for the Cards' farm team in Johnson City, Tenn.
Chicago (2-3) Pitcher Ray Burris' six-game winning streak and Bill Madlock's 17-game hitting streak were stopped in the same game by the Reds.
Jerry Koosman, now 16-7, was responsible for both New York (2-3) victories, including an 11 strikeout, 1-0 shutout of Cincinnati. John Milner is the only Met to hit a home run in more than two weeks.
PHIL 79-41 PITT 66-55 NY 62-61 CHI 56-68 ST.L 52-66 MONT 41-75
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JAY JOHNSTONE: The Philadelphia outfielder had a pair of four-hit games, 11 RBIs and is hitting .348. Platooned at times, he probably will not come to the plate often enough to qualify for the batting title.