If nothing else, the first full week of play proved you couldn't tell the players without a score-card. Expansion, free agentry, heavy trading and an influx of rookies resulted in unfamiliar lineups. Newcomers excelled for Oakland (5-2), Pablo Torrealba notching two saves and a win, Dave Giusti two saves and Doug Bair a victory. All nine A's homers were hit by freshly acquired players, including two each by Dick Allen and Wayne Gross.
Seattle fans chanted "Roop, Roop, Roop" to urge on Centerfielder Ruppert Jones, 22, who responded with three home runs. Also drawing cheers was Steve Braun, who singled in the 13th inning to finish off his former Minnesota teammates 3-2.
Two free-agent signees bolstered Chicago (4-1), Steve Stone pitching a three-hitter to stop Toronto 3-2 and Royle Stillman driving in the decisive scores with a two-run single as the White Sox came from five runs back to overhaul the Blue Jays 7-5.
April 24, 1977
Minnesota split eight games, with all the victories going to new arms. Geoff Zahn, who had been released by the Cubs, had two wins. Other victors were Paul Thormodsgard (7-1 over the A's) and Ron Schueler (3-2 over the Mariners).
Former Yankee Doyle Alexander and Paul Lindblad, late of the A's, combined for a 3-2 win by Texas (2-1) over Baltimore.
Kansas City (2-3) got early dividends from a trade with Milwaukee, Darrell Porter batting .471 and Jim Colborn (with relief from Larry Gura) beating Detroit 5-0.
The Angels (3-4), who averaged two homers a week last season, walloped 11, with Bobby Bonds and Don Baylor socking three apiece. But one thing that has not changed for California is Nolan Ryan's pitching. He beat Seattle 7-0 with his fifth career one-hitter.
TEX 4-1 OAK 7-2 CHI 5-2 KC 4-3 CAL 5-6 MINN 4-5 SEA 4-7
"Milwaukee is ready for a baseball explosion," said Alex Grammas, manager of the Brewers (4-1). Two homers by Sixto Lezcano clipped the Yankees 2-1, and Cecil Cooper's two-run blast in the ninth, followed by Sal Bando's triple and Steve Brye's single, overcame New York again 4-3. Jim Slaton whitewashed Baltimore 5-0.
In the eighth inning of a game at Fenway Park, the Indians (2-2) scored 13 times and the Red Sox six, breaking by two the modern record for most runs in one inning by two teams. Although the final score was 19-9 in Cleveland's favor, no home runs were hit. Boston (1-3) became the last team in the majors to win its first game, zapping the Indians 8-4 behind Luis Tiant.
New York's high-salaried stars did not shine. Reggie Jackson was picked off base in a crucial spot, made a costly error and became embroiled in a controversy with Manager Billy Martin about whether Jackson should have told the press about his ailing arm. Don Gullett lost twice, the team had only two homers and the Yankees' solitary win in five tries was by a 5-3 score in Kansas City.
Baltimore (1-2) scored merely three runs, one on a hit by Rick Dempsey that gave Jim Palmer a 1-0 win over Milwaukee.
Detroit (3-4) beat Kansas City 8-5 on a three-run homer in the ninth by Rusty Staub and downed Toronto 6-1 as Dave Roberts gave up only four hits. But the Tigers had their share of unsettling events, too. After 13 seasons as a big favorite with the Tigers, Willie Horton was traded to the Rangers for Pitcher Steve Foucault; Detroit twice made five errors in a game; relief ace John Hiller lost twice in his birthplace, Toronto; and rookie phenom Dave Rozema committed a run-scoring balk when his hand struck his knee and dislodged the ball.
MIL 5-2 CLEV 3-2 TOR 5-4 DET 3-6 NY 2-5 BALT 1-4 BOS 1-4
"This is a multidimensional club," said Reggie Smith of Los Angeles (4-2). "It's a smart team, and it has speed and power." Eight homers (three by Smith) and eight steals (six by Davey Lopes) helped substantiate two of those claims, as the Dodgers outslugged the Braves 14-10 and Burt Hooton defeated the Giants 5-0.
San Francisco (3-3) got power from its new M&M combination, Willie McCovey and Bill Madlock, who hit two home runs apiece.
Houston (3-3) played five straight one-run games, winning three of them from Cincinnati. In the last of these victories, the Astros went ahead 7-6 in the 10th when Jose Cruz doubled and Willie Crawford singled.
New Braves led Atlanta (4-2) to a pair of 4-3 wins over Houston, Jeff Burroughs hammering a two-run homer in his first Atlanta Stadium at-bat and Gary Matthews driving in the clinching run in the seventh inning the next day. Dick Ruthven picked up that win and also stopped the Astros 6-0.
San Diego (3-3) beat Cincinnati twice, 12-4 as Bob Shirley struck out 11 in his major league debut and 5-4 as Dave Roberts drove in the winning run in the ninth. "The Padres are forcing things, stealing bases, doing things we do to win," said Joe Morgan of the Reds (1-5), who fell into the cellar. The Reds suffered four one-run losses. Morgan, though, was at his best, socking his second and third homers off lefties, against whom he had only three all last season.
LA 6-2 HOUS 5-3 ATL 4-4 SD 4-5 SF 3-5 CIN 3-6
The Cardinals (3-3) did not waltz into first place, they got there with the help of pregame pas d'action exercises. Said Lou Brock of the 15-minute dancelike warmups St. Louis has been using since the start of spring training, "We never went into a season in better shape." Then, after rookie Reliever John Urrea halted a Pirate uprising in his first big-league outing, he improvised a dance of his own, jumping up and down and war-whooping in the dugout. Urrea went on to save that game and another four days later.
Wearing black armbands in honor of owner Philip K. Wrigley, who died last week, the Cubs (4-1) climbed to second place. On Easter Sunday Ivan DeJesus hit his first homer in 91 major league games, a three-run drive that beat the Mets 5-2.
Manager Joe Frazier of New York (2-4) bemoaned his "leaky" infield, which failed to flag down grounders, botched up relays and lost balls in the sun. But he could not fault Tom Seaver, who stopped St. Louis 4-0.
Pittsburgh (4-1) got back-to-back shutouts from Bruce Kison, who defeated Montreal 3-0 with a two-hitter, and Jim Rooker, who disposed of St. Louis 7-0 on three hits. In their other wins, the Pirates got game-winning hits from Rennie Stennett.
Construction and confusion prevailed as Montreal (2-3) opened at uncompleted Olympic Stadium. Early-arriving fans were unable to enter the park for nearly an hour because no one could find the keys to unlock the gates. Eventually, 57,592 got in and, together with construction workers who peered through scaffolding, saw the Expos lose to the Phillies 7-2. However, Montreal took two other games against Philadelphia. Tony Perez had four RBIs in one of the wins.
"Baseball is a game of inches. The Bull just happened to put 3,800 [sic] inches together" was how Tug McGraw of the Phillies (1-4) summed up a 450-foot homer by Greg Luzinski that helped spoil Montreal's home opener.
ST. L 5-3 CHI 4-3 PITT 4-3 NY 4-4 MONT 3-3 PHIL 1-5
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MITCHELL PAGE: Oakland's 25-year-old rookie outfielder, already dubbed "The Rage" by A's rooters, batted .424 and got one triple, two steals, three homers, four doubles, eight runs, 15 RBIs and a $10,000 raise.