Last year Detroit gave us The Bird. This year it's The Rose. After rookie Dave Rozema shut out the Red Sox 8-0 for his first victory, he celebrated by handing out long-stemmed roses to his teammates and the press.
Even before that no one was about to accuse Rozema (pronounced rose-ma) of being a shrinking violet. Like The Bird, he rushes to the mound, giggles a bit and shakes a lot of hands when he is happy. After his win he also placed the last ball in his locker. "It's still hot," he said. On Rozema's first day in the Tiger system, he reported wearing white shoes, a yellow glove and shoulder-length blond hair. The organization made him dye his shoes gray and get a haircut, while his minor league mates swiped his glove. But no one is monkeying with Rozema's style. In the shutout he allowed four hits and no walks—in 21 innings he has walked just three men. Unfortunately, the Tigers won only one other game last week, and lost three.
Toronto (2-3) held New York to a .500 week by taking two of four in Yankee Stadium. Doug Ault went 8 for 14 and Otto Velez 9 for 15 in the series, while rookie Jerry Garvin won his third straight 8-3 and Dave Lemanczyk won 5-1 on four hits. Milwaukee (3-2) stayed in first, but Manager Alex Grammas posted storm warnings as his hot pitchers began to show signs of wilting. "We can't make our pitchers throw shutouts every time out," he said. "I'm going to have five or six guys out early and get them some extra hitting. We're just not popping the ball."
May 1, 1977
Boston (3-3) was put up for sale by the estate of Tom Yawkey, but the Red Sox certainly weren't helping the deal on the field. They could do no better than split series with Detroit and Cleveland, and George Scott continued to hit at around .200. "The Good Man above controls everything," said Scott. "When He is ready to make George Scott hit his 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs, He will." So far Scott has had no homers and only two RBIs.
Cleveland (1-5) pulled Outfielder Johnny Grubb off the injured list, which made sense: the Indians need all the help they can get. To make room for Grubb the club optioned Outfielder Charlie Spikes to Toledo and planned to move Buddy Bell from left to third. But the real problem was pitching. The Indians' staff had no complete games and had allowed 35 runs.
The only joyful cries in the division came from Baltimore, winner of all five of its games. Jim Palmer hurled his second straight shutout, a 5-0 three-hit masterpiece against Texas, and Ross Grimsley stopped the Rangers 6-1 on six hits. Then Rudy May beat Cleveland 4-3 as Al Bumbry, Doug DeCinces and rookie Eddie Murray all homered. The best was still to come. When Cleveland scored three times in the 10th to go ahead 5-2, the Associated Press began to move a story about a Tribe victory. The AP forgot about Brooks Robinson. After the Orioles scored one run and put two men on in their half of the 10th, the 39-year-old player-coach appeared as a pinch hitter and homered to win the game 6-5. "It's a tough job going in as a pinch hitter," said Robinson, "but I'll always feel like a kid when I put this uniform on." Said Manager Earl Weaver: "It brought tears to my eyes, that's what it did. The man has been so good for baseball. He's such a great person. That has to affect you. I think I might have to revise my list of alltime thrills." Next night the Birds blasted their ex-mate, millionaire Indian Wayne Garland, 7-2 on nine hits.
MIL 8-4 BALT 6-4 TOR 7-7 NY 5-8 CLEV 4-7 BOS 4-7 DET 5-9
The White Sox (3-2) moved into first place on good pitching and unaccustomed power. Chicago beat Oakland's Vida Blue 8-2 with four homers, including two by Richie Zisk. "It was strength against strength, just like in the National League. He's a power pitcher, and I got some good ones to hit," said ex-Pirate Zisk. Eric Soderholm then rocked Nolan Ryan for two singles and a homer, scoring or driving in all the runs as Chicago beat California 3-2. White Sox Pitchers Ken Brett, Chris Knapp and Fransisco Barrios each got his second win during the week.
Oakland (2-3) clung to second but began fearing for the future. "The pitchers in this league are seeing us for the first time," said rookie Shortstop Rob Picciolo. "We may not do so well the second time around." Actually, the A's veterans are the source of most current concern, most notably the win-less Blue. Vida even burned the 2-year-old cap he has been insisting on wearing despite its tattered condition. "That's it. I don't want to hear any more about the damned thing. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Happier was Rich McKinney, who had quit his job as a truck driver when summoned to the Oakland camp three weeks into spring training. McKinney hit his third homer, helping Mike Torrez get his third win. Then a strong six-inning performance by Jim Umbarger gave some credence to owner Charlie Finley's view that he has the strongest staff in the division.
California (2-3) had a game postponed when the lights went out in Anaheim Stadium, but there was no power failure in Joe Rudi's bat. He drove in seven runs and led the majors with 22. The pitching outlook was not so bright, although Wayne Simpson beat Milwaukee 7-4 for his first major league win since 1975.
Larry Gura had a win and two saves as Kansas City took four of six, but hardly anyone on the club was satisfied. "I've never seen a game that bad," said Manager Whitey Herzog after the Royals dropped a 3-2 decision to Minnesota and botched five scoring opportunities. Pitcher Paul Splittorff accused Twins Coach Tony Oliva of signaling the location of the K.C. catcher's glove to Minnesota hitters. "Splittorff shouldn't have said anything," Herzog said. "The best way to stop that stuff is to have the catcher hold his target outside and then knock down the batter." If anything, it was the Twins (5-2) who were knocking them down. They scored 39 runs for the week and played almost flawlessly in the rubber game of the Royal series, executing five double plays and winning 3-2 on homers by Larry Hisle, Danny Ford and Craig Kusick.
No one could say Seattle (2-4) wasn't entertaining. Danny Kaye's Mariners pulled off the season's first triple play against Kansas City when First Baseman Danny Meyer threw to the plate to get John Mayberry, who had tried to score from third on a double-play grounder. There also have been 24 homers in 12 games played in Seattle's Kingdome—and little wonder. Seattle Sportswriter J. Michael Kenyon discovered that the power alleys, listed as 375 feet from home, are just 357 feet away.
Bert Blyleven and Gaylord Perry each lost twice as Texas went 3-4. The bright spots were a three-run homer by Toby Harrah—his third ninth-inning blast of the year—to beat Seattle 3-1 and Willie Horton's clout to stop Minnesota 1-0.
CHI 8-4 OAK 9-5 KC 8-5 MINN 9-7 TEX 7-6 CAL 7-9 SEA 6-11
The last-place Phillies (3-2) had at least one money player in rookie Randy Lerch. "If you get out of this jam, I'll buy you dinner tonight," Shortstop Larry Bowa told Lerch, who had two runners on in the seventh inning of a game with Chicago. Lerch held on to stop the Cubs 3-1, though he owed his first big-league win in part to Reliever Ron Reed (two scoreless innings) and Outfielder Jerry Martin's game-ending catch of a Jerry Morales blast. Later, Bowa stuck a $20 bill in Lerch's pocket. In a subsequent 7-5 win over the Cubs, Bowa homered and sprinted around the bases. "It's obvious you don't have any idea how to do the home-run trot," said slugger Greg Luzinski. But Bowa does know how to inspire rookies: Lerch ended the week by beating St. Louis 11-1. This time his only reward was satisfaction.
Despite that setback, the Cardinals (4-2) remained in first with Ted Simmons (11 for 23) and Keith Hernandez (14 RBIs) leading the way. Simmons attributed his fast start to his svelte new figure; he's down from 217 pounds to 203. Meanwhile, Hernandez, who had a single, triple and homer for five RBIs in one game, is citing arm-and-wrist-strengthening exercises for his potent hitting. Then there is Eric Rasmussen, who beat New York 4-2 for his first win and offered his new name as reason for his success. Né Harry Rasmussen, he paid $100 over the off-season and had his name legally changed. After the win, a reporter said, "Nice game, Harry." Rasmussen snapped, "Don't call me Harry."
Al Hrabosky performed his mad act—walking off the mound and talking to himself—after New York's Dave Kingman homered off him to cut a St. Louis lead to 3-2. Then Hrabosky and Ed Kranepool played cat-and-mouse, the pitcher moving off the rubber, the hitter stepping out of the batter's box—before Kranepool became one of Hrabosky's three strikeout victims in the inning. If straitlaced Manager Vern Rapp was annoyed by Reliever Hrabosky's behavior, he could console himself with the thought that starter John Denny became the first four-game winner of the year.
Pittsburgh broke even for the week, 3-3, but barely. Rich Gossage contributed greatly to two one-run wins over the Mets (2-4) with clutch work, fanning Roy Staiger and Tom Seaver in one critical situation and Kingman in the other. The Pirates came from behind to win both games in the ninth inning. After Dave Parker had knocked Seaver out in the eighth with a two-run, one-handed homer—earlier in the inning Omar Moreno had scored on a single to snap Seaver's shutout string at 25‚Öì innings—Ed Ott singled home Phil Garner in the top half of the ninth to take the first game 4-3. The following day Omar Moreno tripled and scored on Al Oliver's single to break a 5-5 deadlock after eight innings. "When I'm hitting good," said Oliver, a .171 hitter going into the game, I hit them off anybody." Earlier in the week Seaver beat the Cubs 6-0 with his fifth career one-hitter. That and a 5-2 decision over St. Louis, were the only games in which the Met bats hit when they had to.
Montreal fans were both happy and plentiful. The Expos took one from Philadelphia, two of three from Pittsburgh and one of two from San Francisco, playing before crowds in Olympic Stadium that have averaged 21,000 for the year. Gary Carter had a three-homer day against the Pirates and Ellis Valentine hit his fourth of the year, prompting fans to hang out "Valentown" signs in right field. Light-hitting rookie Outfielder Andre Dawson won two extra-inning games, singling in the 14th against Pittsburgh and in the 10th against the Giants. Even more surprsing was Manager Dick Williams' decision to let Warren Cromartie, a lefthander, hit against left-handed Pirate Reliever Terry Forster. Cromartie responded with a three-run double. Going 8 for 17 against lefties, Cromartie proclaimed, "Every time I get up to face a lefthander, I'm hitting for every lefthander who's ever been taken out. That's a big misconception, that lefties can't hit lefties. I hate that more than anything in baseball." Chicago (1-3) just hated baseball.
ST. L 9-5 MONT 7-5 PITT 7-6 CHI 5-6 NY 6-8 PHIL 4-7
Los Angeles raced on outslugging the champion Cincinnati Reds 7-3 and 3-1 in a 4-1 week as Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Davey Lopes homered. Most destructive was Cey, the new cleanup hitter, who was batting .412. Cey had three homers, each contributing to a win, and the Dodgers began calling themselves the Blue Wrecking Crew. In the accompanying war of words. Reds Manager Sparky Anderson suggested that the Dodgers lacked a late-season finishing punch. Dodger Pitcher Don Sutton, commenting on his win in the 3-1 game, said, "I felt like Carmen Basilio waltzing past Muhammad Ali." Finally, Anderson got in a counter. Asked if he would make any lineup changes, he answered, "I'm not Billy Martin." He was worried enough, though, to call his last-place Reds (1-3 for the week) into a rare team meeting.
Atlanta Pitcher Dick Ruthven stopped San Diego 4-1 for his third win and said, "Somebody rang a bell. The games suddenly started to count." Euphoric Atlanta counted four wins, only two defeats. Little-used Craig Robinson singled with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth to give the Braves a 6-5 win and stop the Dodgers' win streak at eight. Atlanta Pitcher Mike Marshall, who is being offered as trade bait, failed to show up for a game late in the week. The night before, Marshall had heaved a ball into the outfield when he was yanked in the seventh inning of a game with the Dodgers and, minutes later, Marshall tossed a bat out of the dugout. But the unhappiest people at Atlanta Stadium were the umpires who stalked off the field during a 5-4 win over Houston. They were upset when fans booed a video replay of a controversial call. They returned when the Braves agreed not to show close plays.
Houston lost all six of its games including a doubleheader disaster to San Diego on Jacket Night. Strait was the kind of jacket Manager Bill Virdon was being measured for as he watched his pitchers give up 14 walks, throw a wild pitch and hit one batsman. The crusher was the second game, in which No. 1 draft pick Floyd Bannister was staked to a 6-0 lead, then got wild as his teammates got careless. The Astros lost 11-8.
San Francisco won three of five as Ed Halicki, John Montefusco and Jim Barr became two-game winners. Even so, Montefusco refused to go on a postgame radio show with announcer Lon Simmons. According to Giant wives and girlfriends, Simmons, a noted humorist, had been "getting down" on the players. Simmons' remarks about Halicki, Montefusco and Pitcher Randy Moffitt were deemed unfunny by The Count.
San Diego's 4-3 week was highlighted by a 12-6, 14-hit rout of Atlanta. Gene Tenace contributed two homers, and Doug Rader and George Hendrick one apiece. And Padre pitching was potent. Bob Shirley, a 22-year-old rookie, beat Houston 4-2, causing Catcher Tenace to say, "He's a better pitcher than Vida Blue." Added Pitching Coach Roger Craig, "He's the most impressive young pitcher I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of them." In addition, Rollie Fingers has three saves, a 2-0 record and a 1.38 earned run average, Reliever Dave Tomlin hasn't allowed a run in eight games and rookie Vic Bernal earned his first major league win with four shutout innings against the hapless Astros.
LA 10-3 ATL 8-6 SD 8-8 SF 6-7 HOUS 5-9 CIN 4-9
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RICK CAMP: Atlanta's 23-year-old rookie reliever had two saves and a win. In 8‚Öì innings this season, he has allowed no runs and just six hits. Of the 25 men he has retired, 15 have grounded out and four have struck out.