While the Mets' rooters mourned the loss of Tom Seaver (page 22), Yankee fans lamented their team's inclination to be more explosive off the field than on. For most of the week, the Yankees (2-4) behaved. Then came Round Forty-Six of the ruckus between Manager Billy (I'd Rather Fight Than Switch) Martin and Rightfielder Reggie (Candy Bar) Jackson during a 10-4 loss in Boston. Precipitating this latest misadventure was a bloop checked-swing double by Jim Rice that fell in front of Jackson, who, Martin felt, did not hustle after the ball. So Martin sent Paul Blair out to replace Jackson. As soon as Jackson reached the New York dugout, he and Martin exchanged purple words, angry shouts and bitter accusations. While network TV cameras focused on the incident, the two lunged for each other. Only the intervention of several players and coaches averted the Yankee version of Armageddon.
Teammate Lou Piniella had his own problems. After failing to beat out a grounder to deep short in one game, Piniella, who never has been compared to Mickey Rivers as a speedster, broke a light fixture near the dugout. Piniella was ejected from another game for allegedly throwing his bat in the direction of home-plate Umpire Bill Deegan. He was supposed to begin a three-day suspension the next day, but this season, players can appeal suspensions. Piniella did, and his suspension was delayed pending a hearing. He made the most of his reprieve. With New York trailing Kansas City 2-0 in the fifth, he singled, went to second on Blair's single, then—running like Rivers—galloped to third on a fly ball to left and pranced home after another fly. The Yankees went on to win 4-2 behind the four-hit pitching of Don Gullett. Another lefthander, rookie Ron Guidry, outdid Gullett, allowing only three hits in a 7-0 win over the Royals. For Guidry, who on four occasions had been knocked out in the ninth inning, it was his first complete game. He said he overcame his late-inning jitters by "making believe the ninth inning was the seventh."
Life among the Indians (2-4) was also tumultuous. Manager Frank Robinson was fired; Third Baseman Buddy Bell left the club for a day because of "personal reasons"; and In-fielder Larvell Blanks put on the most versatile clubhouse rampage of the season. Replacing Robinson was bullpen Coach Jeff Torborg, who signed a contract through the 1978 season. Bell returned to the team and had two hits as Dennis Eckersley struggled to a 5-4 win over Detroit. As for Blanks, he limbered up his throwing arm by angrily tossing his gear around the clubhouse for no known reason, and then he demonstrated a strong leg by booting a stool into a pot of brewing coffee. Andre Thornton vented his frustration in a more constructive manner, improving his .162 pregame batting average by singling in one run, slugging a two-run homer and finishing off Detroit 8-5 with a three-run homer in the 12th. Pat Kelly of Baltimore (4-2) settled an 8-5 contest with a three-run homer in the 11th against Milwaukee. Rudy May became a 20-game winner for the Orioles. Exactly one year after being acquired from the Yankees, May (9-5) won his 20th game as an Oriole, blanking the Brewers 6-0. Jim Palmer held off Toronto 4-2 for his 182nd career win, the most ever for an Oriole pitcher.
June 26, 1977
That setback was part of an all-losing week for the Blue Jays (0-6), who produced a total of only 10 runs. Although the cellar-dwelling Blue Jays kept losing, they also kept drawing large crowds at home. For their first 27 home dates they have attracted 626,111 fans—an average of 23,189—second in the league only to the Red Sox.
In today's parlance, homers are "taters." That being the case, the Red Sox (6-1) must lead the world in mashed taters. They started slowly, hitting nary a home run in their first three games. In a Fenway Park rarity, Boston got a pair of complete-game victories while sweeping a doubleheader from Texas, Reggie Cleveland prevailing 3-2 and Luis Tiant tossing a three-hitter while winning 2-0. Next came a 5-4 squeaker over the White Sox as Reliever Bill Campbell registered his fifth triumph when Carlton Fisk singled with the bases full in the bottom of the 10th. From there on the Red Sox resorted to power—16 homers in four games, one short of the Twins' 1963 record. George Scott conked two home runs and Bernie Carbo another as Chicago fell 7-1. Scott and Rice homered in a 7-3 loss to the White Sox. In two games against the Yankees, Boston out-homered New York 11-0, winning 9-4 and 10-4 to supplant the Yankees in first place. There were six homers in Game One, Scott hitting his 16th of the season and Fisk, who batted .423 for the week, unloading his 12th and 13th. In Game Two, Scott hit his fifth tater of the week, and Carbo and Carl Yastrzemski both cleared the fences twice. During the week, Yaz had 11 RBIs, Scott eight, and Rice hit .481. If they keep up their home-run pace (90 in 61 games), the Red Sox will finish with 255; the alltime high is 240 by the '61 Yankees. The redoubtable Campbell rendered the Yankees helpless in those two wins, pitching 6‚Öî innings of runless relief and chalking up his second and third saves of the week and 13th and 14th of the season.
Three pitchers who were not in the starting rotation in April hurled impressive victories for Detroit (3-3). Longtime Reliever John Hiller struck out 12 Blue Jays, giving him 62 whiffs in 60 innings, as the Tigers won 7-2. Fernando Arroyo, who also began the season in the bullpen, followed with a 9-0, five-hit conquest of Toronto. Then it was Mark Fidrych's turn. The Bird, whose left knee was operated on in April, submitted to tonsorial surgery by having his curly locks trimmed to moderate length. Said Fidrych. "My hair was too long. I couldn't see over to first." He then made short work of the Blue Jays, using just 81 pitches in a 4-1 victory.
Nifty pitching also bolstered Milwaukee (3-3). Jerry Augustine stopped the Royals 4-0, and Gary Beare, Sam Hinds and Bill Castro held the Angels to just one hit—a first-inning double by Joe Rudi—in a 4-2 triumph.
BOS 36-25 BALT 35-27 NY 36-28 MIL 31-34 CLEV 26-31 DET 27-33 TOR 23-37
Triples. There are fewer of them than any other kind of base hit. Although they are overshadowed by home runs, they are, in fact, harder to get, because not only must the ball be hit deep, but the batter must also be fast afoot. Minnesota's (3-3) Rod Carew, five times a batting champion, is specializing this season in slamming triples; he had three more last week and now has 13, almost twice as many as the majors' runner-up, Al Cowens of Kansas City, who has seven. In a 6-1 defeat of New York, Carew tripled and drove in two runs. In the Twins' 3-2 and 7-6 wins over the Angels, Carew scored in each game after hitting a triple. Carew's triple in the 3-2 contest was a routine double that he turned into a triple with his speed. He knew the field was wet and it would take two good throws to get him. "Carew's unparalleled alertness won the game," Manager Gene Mauch said. Carew has led the league in triples only once: in 1973, when he hit 11. Last year he had 12. The major league season record is 36, set by John Owen (Chief) Wilson of the Pirates in 1912. Before home runs became popular and fences were moved in, triples were commonplace. As for Carew, he says that what he wants to win more than anything else this season is the Gold Glove for first basemen. "If I win one," he said, "it would mean more to me than another silver bat [for a batting title]."
The Royals (3-3) have urged George Brett, the 1976 batting champion with a .333 average, to increase his home-run production. Last season he hit seven. Last week Brett slugged his third of the season, but he had only one other hit and his average plummeted to .277. Reliever Steve Mingori hurled 6‚Öî innings of scoreless ball and lengthened his streak of runless innings to 24‚Öì. A steal of home by Fred Patek enabled the Royals to squeeze past the division-leading Twins 2-1. But the biggest steal of the week was perpetrated inside the Royals' clubhouse in Milwaukee, where thieves helped themselves to 50 uniform tops, about 20 gloves, 10 pairs of spikes and an ample supply of caps and jackets. With most of the Royals decked out in Brewer uniforms for the next game, Kansas City wound up losing 4-0.
"I don't think you trade your best pitcher to a guy who's climbing up the tree behind you with an ax," said Chicago Outfielder Richie Zisk after Lefthander Ken Brett was sent to California for three obscure players. Still, the White Sox (3-2) kept winning; Ken Kravec and Lerrin LaGrow struck out 13 A's in a 2-0 victory.
Brett did not win for California (3-3), but Reliever Dyar Miller, acquired from Baltimore in exchange for Dick Drago, gave up only one run in 6‚Öì innings and won two games. Miller beat the Twins 12-9 and 7-5. In another late deal, the Angels obtained Righthander Gary Nolan from Cincinnati. With Bobby Grich in traction because of a bad back, slick-fielding journeyman Mario Guerrero took over at shortstop for the Angels and batted .481.
Rollie Fingers and Paul Lindblad, Oakland's bullpen aces the past few seasons, are long gone, but the A's still have a fine relief corps: Pablo Torrealba (1.38 ERA), Bob (Spacey) Lacey (1.67) and Dave Giusti (2.16). But neither the relievers nor the bonuses that Owner Charlie Finley offered his players for exceptional performances helped the A's as they lost three of five.
Seattle (5-2) twice produced ninth-inning rallies to avoid 1-0 losses to Texas. The Mariners won 2-1 on RBI hits by Jose Baez and Steve Braun, and ended Bert Blyleven's string of 25 scoreless innings by scoring once in the ninth and five times in the 10th for a 6-1 decision. Dick Pole registered two wins, including a 5-2 triumph over Toronto, the Mariners' first victory over their fellow expansionists.
Texas (4-4) won twice on four-hit shutouts over Cleveland. Blyleven stymied the Indians 3-0; then Mike Marshall, Adrian Devine and Darold Knowles combined for a 6-0 verdict.
MINN 36-27 CHI 33-27 TEX 30-29 CAL 30-30 KC 30-31 OAK 28-32 SEA 29-39
The Reds went wild on the base paths and on the trading market. With Joe Morgan batting .474, Johnny Bench .462, Ken Griffey .452, Pete Rose .419, Cesar Geronimo .360 and George Foster .345, Cincinnati won seven straight. Three weeks after they were 13½ games behind the Dodgers, the Reds suddenly were only 6½ out of first. Reliever Pedro Borbon, who had been winless, won three times in four days. Borbon was a 7-6 winner when Ed Armbrister scored from third on a grounder in the last of the ninth, a 5-4 victor when Dan Driessen homered in the ninth, an 8-7 winner on an RBI single by Pete Rose in the 10th. The Reds were down to their last out in that game, but Foster sent the game into extra innings with a home run. Half of Foster's 10 hits were homers, raising his total to 18, and he had 14 RBIs, giving him 54. In his last 23 games Foster has slugged 13 homers and driven in 32 runs. Despite adding Tom Seaver, Cincinnati may have weakened its pitching staff during the June 15 trading activity. Gary Nolan was sent to California for Infielder Craig Hendrickson and a player to be named later; unsigned Rawley Eastwick went to St. Louis in exchange for minor league Pitcher Doug Capilla; Mike Caldwell was dealt to Milwaukee in return for two minor leaguers; and Pat Zachry wound up in New York as part of the Seaver deal. To bolster their bullpen, the Reds acquired 40-year-old Joe Hoerner from their Indianapolis farm.
When the Padres (3-4) received a call from the Mets suggesting a trade—"would you take Dave Kingman for Bobby Valentine and Paul Siebert?"—they made the deal, even though San Diego has no convenient place to play Kingman. He was not pleased when he learned that Manager Alvin Dark planned to install him at third base. "I've never felt comfortable at third base, and I haven't played there since '73," Kingman said. Rollie Fingers tied a Padre mark by picking up his 16th save, and rookie Outfielder Gene Richards stole four bases in five tries, giving him 20 in 23 attempts and putting him among the league leaders. But Randy Jones, last year's Cy Young Award winner, was still bothered by arm trouble and was expected to miss at least a couple of starts.
"I want Steve Garvey to go for the home run," Manager Tom Lasorda of Los Angeles (4-2) said during spring training. Going for the home run, Garvey hit four to increase his total to 14, one more than he hit all last year. Ron Cey's first homer in two weeks, his 15th of the season, helped Tommy John defeat Chicago 2-1. In that game John got 19 groundouts and five double plays. Rick Rhoden (9-3) mowed down the Pirates 10-1.
Atlanta (2-4) continued to stumble on the road, stretching its away losing streak to eight games; in all, the Braves are 6-24 for their travels. Rookie Don Collins came on in relief against New York with the bases full and none out in the ninth and preserved an 8-5 win by inducing the first batter he faced to hit into a double play and striking out the next. Jeff Burroughs had four home runs, including a three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth that stunned Philadelphia 5-3, to give him 18 for the season.
San Francisco (4-2) also used the long ball to shock Pittsburgh, Jack Clark tying the score in the ninth with his second pinch homer of the year, and Gary Thomasson winning it 7-5 with a two-run clout in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Cesar Cedeno of Houston (3-4), who began the season with a seven-year batting average of .294, is hitting only .190. Despite an 0-for-3 game against the Mets, Cedeno helped the Astros win 4-3 by driving in the deciding run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly. Floyd Bannister also beat New York 7-1, and Joaquin Andujar (8-3), with relief help from Joe Niekro, blanked Montreal 5-0.
LA 42-22 CIN 34-27 SF 29-35 SD 30-38 HOUS 27-38 ATL 23-42
In a week's competition against the West, the East won only 16 of 39 games. Montreal and Pittsburgh (both 2-5) were the biggest losers. In four games with the Expos, the Reds batted .361 and scored 36 runs. But Santo Alcala and Jackie Brown muffled the Astros, Alcala winning 3-2 and Brown 2-0. The Pirates took a doubleheader from the Padres 6-1 and 7-4, then lost five in a row despite three homers by Bill Robinson.
The Phillies walloped 12 homers, four by Mike Schmidt and three by Greg Luzinski, each raising his total to 15. Jay Johnstone's two-out, two-run single in the ninth tied the Braves 5-5, and Ollie Brown's three-run homer in the 12th won the game 8-5. Philadelphia traded Pitcher Tommy Underwood to St. Louis for Outfielder Bake McBride.
Home runs continued to plague the Cardinals (2-4), who gave up six and hit only two; so far this season they have yielded 56 and hit a league low of 40. Ted Simmons' eighth homer, plus five innings of hitless relief work by rookie John Urrea, carried the Cardinals to a 9-6 win over the Giants.
New York (4-3) and Chicago (4-2) were the only winning teams in the East. Two Met wins came in Atlanta, where Jerry Koosman prevailed 7-1 and Catcher John Stearns' RBI groundout in the eighth overcame the Braves 6-5. Rick Reuschel (9-2) of the Cubs silenced the Padres 2-0, and Bruce Sutter continued to baffle hitters with his forkball, a pitch that breaks sharply downward as it reaches the plate. Sutter notched two victories, including a 7-3 win in Los Angeles when Manny Trillo, who batted .522, snapped a 3-3 tie in the ninth with a two-run triple. In that win, Sutter fanned five of the last six Dodgers he faced. One of them, Lee Lacy, said to the home-plate umpire, "Will you please check the ball? I've never seen anything like it."
CHI 39-21 ST.L 34-28 PITT 32-27 PHIL 33-38 MONT 26-34 NY 27-36
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOE RUDI: California's superb leftfielder went on the offense, raising his home-run output to 13 by twice hitting two in a game, increasing his RBIs to 53 by driving across 11 runs, batting .462 and scoring 10 times.