"Winning teams make things go right, right from the start," said Joe Morgan, who right from the start put the National League in command of the 48th All-Star Game by leading off the first inning with a home run. The National Leaguers kept making things go their way. Before that inning was over, Dave Parker had singled and, with a well-calculated slide to the outside of the plate, eluded Catcher Carlton Fisk as he scored on George Foster's double. Foster scored moments later, ambling home ahead of Greg Luzinski's homer.
Jim Palmer, who had pitched eight shutout innings during his past three All-Star Games, then yielded his third home run of the night to Steve Garvey in the third to put the NL up 5-0. When American League Manager Billy Martin yanked him after that blast, Palmer said, "What took you so long?"
It took the American Leaguers until the sixth to score. Don Sutton, the game's MVP, gave up just one hit in the first three innings and Gary Lavelle one during the next two. Then along came the pitcher who is fast becoming the AL's favorite: Tom Seaver. During the pregame introductions, the Yankee Stadium crowd of 56,683 had saved its biggest ovation for Seaver, who was in New York for the first time since being traded to Cincinnati. When Seaver took to the mound, though, it was AL batters who wanted to cheer. Richie Zisk drove in two runs against him in the sixth and Willie Randolph another in the seventh. At that point, over the last 23 innings in three All-Star Games, the AL had scored seven runs—all against Seaver.
July 31, 1977
With their lead trimmed to 5-3, the National Leaguers got busy, scoring twice in the eighth on Dave Winfield's single. A two-run homer in the ninth by George Scott of the AL made the final score 7-5. It was the sixth consecutive victory for the NL and the 14th in 15 games, increasing its advantage in the series to 29-18-1.
Assorted reasons were given for this continuation of NL superiority. Sutton felt that having an AL umpire, Bill Kunkel, behind the plate helped him. "Some of my high fastballs would have been balls in the National League," Sutton said. Billy Martin had promised to "manage like this is the seventh game of the World Series," but got little chance to do so. Three pitchers he had banked on—Frank Tanana, Mark Fidrych and Vida Blue—missed the game because of arm troubles. And Nolan Ryan, who was upset because he was not chosen originally, declined Martin's belated invitation and instead went to the beach.
Said Scott: "The fans voted bad. We didn't have our best players on the field at the start. The fans robbed us of our artillery. We had 90 taters on the pine." Translated, that was George's way of saying the AL bench was stocked with sluggers, including Scott himself (25 homers), Jim Rice (23), Larry Hisle (21) and Graig Nettles (20).
During a personal seven-game losing streak, Mark Lemongello of Houston (2-2) admitted he was so upset that he "even thought of suicide, but I figured if I tried I'd probably miss." Lemongello was alive and well last week, and got his first win since May 13 by beating Cincinnati 3-1 with relief help from Joe Niekro. Five days later Lemongello went the distance for the first time to stop St. Louis 4-2.
Also delighted to be a winner again was John Montefusco of the Giants (1-3), who missed 63 days because of a bum ankle. Another returnee, Tim Foli, helped the Count beat the Phillies 6-2 by hitting two homers. Foli had been out for a month with three cracked ribs.
For Rollie Fingers of San Diego (2-2) it was a profitable week both on and off the field. On the mound he earned his seventh win and 21st save. During the All-Star break, Fingers went to Las Vegas, where, he said, he won $4,000 playing blackjack.
Despite losing three of four games, Los Angeles gained on Cincinnati (0-4). Doug Rau (11-1) defeated the Padres 4-3, but then the Dodger offense fizzled. The Reds sagged because their pitchers blew leads in three games.
Atlanta (2-2) finally beat San Francisco 11-10, after dissipating an 8-2 lead, when Willie Montanez singled in the bottom of the ninth inning.
LA 59-36 CIN 48-44 HOUS 44-52 SF 44-53 SD 42-56 ATL 35-59
Revenge, slick fielding, blisters, hair and baseball's latest Me and Paul combination figured prominently as the race for the top tightened. Second Baseman Rennie Stennett, who felt snubbed when Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson did not select him for the All-Star squad, excelled as Pittsburgh (4-1) swept three games from the Reds. Stennett fielded spectacularly and had six hits in 12 at bats against Cincy as he raised his batting average to .333. Dave Parker brought his average up to a league-leading .338 by going 8 for 14 against the Reds, and Bill Robinson was 6 for 14 to lift his to .312. In an 8-7 win over the Reds, it was Robinson who tied the score with a triple in the 10th and won it with a single in the 12th.
Shortstop Larry Bowa helped preserve a 4-2 Philadelphia win over Chicago by turning two "sure" Cub hits into outs in the last two innings. Steve Carlton won his 13th game, Reliever Tug McGraw saved two victories and the Phillies (3-1) overcame a 6-0 deficit to overhaul the Giants 9-6.
Montreal's oft maligned pitchers baffled Dodger batters as the Expos (4-0) swept a series from them for the first time in their history. Steve Rogers and Jackie Brown developed blisters on their index fingers but hung on for 4-0 and 2-1 wins, both on four-hitters. Montreal's superlative outfielders also showed their skills, Warren Cromartie and Del Unser homering in the 2-1 victory and Ellis Valentine robbing Reggie Smith of a home run with a leaping catch above the eight-foot fence in right field in that game. Stan Bahnsen and Joe Kerrigan then teamed up to limit the Dodgers to seven hits in a 6-4 Expo triumph.
Board Chairman August A. Busch Jr. of St. Louis (2-2) lifted Manager Vern Rapp's ban on facial hair for the Cardinals to accommodate Reliever Al Hrabosky, who had grumbled since having to shave his Fu Manchu and beard. But Busch supported Rapp by signing him to a contract through next season and told Hrabosky, "You said...you can only get batters out by being psyched up with your mustache and beard. Then go ahead and grow it. But, boy, are you going to look like a fool if you don't get batters out." Despite having only stubble when he pitched for the first time after that, Hrabosky was at his demonic best, holding Houston hitless for 2‚Öì innings as the Cardinals won 4-3.
Rick Reuschel (13-3) of Chicago (2-2) silenced Atlanta 1-0. A day earlier, Rick's brother Paul was a 4-3 winner in relief over the Braves. Although the Cubs clung to first place, they were sure to miss Reliever Bruce Sutter, who was sidelined by a hemorrhaging shoulder muscle.
Jerry Koosman of New York (2-3) muffled Pittsburgh 9-3 and Jon Matlack blanked San Diego 5-0. Supplying much of the Mets' paltry offense was rookie Steve Henderson (.300 hitting and eight RBIs).
CHI 53-36 PHIL 54-39 PITT 53-42 ST.L 49-46 MONT 45-47 NY 38-56
"I guarantee things will change," said Rico Carty, certain that the Indians (3-2) would improve after the All-Star interlude. Carty did some changing himself by hitting a two-run homer that gave the Indians a 9-8 win in Boston, a game that began with the first four Cleveland batters hitting for the cycle against, oddly, Reggie Cleveland. Duane Kuiper led off with a single, Buddy Bell tripled, Larvell Blanks doubled and Andre Thornton homered.
Boston (2-3) split four games with Cleveland, Luis Tiant winning 11-4 with the help of Butch Hobson's 19th homer, and Rick Wise prevailing 3-0. Those victories moved the Red Sox into first place ahead of the punch-less Orioles. Baltimore scored only three runs while losing all three of its outings.
Even though Don Money and Robin Yount were already hurt, and Sixto Lezcano suffered a broken hand, Milwaukee (3-2) split four games in New York. Bill Castro picked up his eighth win as the Brewers stymied the Yankees 5-4 in 10 innings.
That defeat was part of another depressing week for the Yankees (2-3), who had led 4-0 in the ninth but blew it by committing five mistakes in the final two innings. Billy Martin admitted his managerial job was in jeopardy, saying, "I believe I have something to worry about." For a change, though, he did not have to worry about Catfish Hunter, who stopped the Brewers 7-0.
Toronto won only once in four tries. The Blue Jays' victory came when Jesse Jefferson muzzled the Tigers 3-2 with a five-hitter.
With Mark Fidrych of Detroit (2-3) out with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, Dave Rozema did his best to fill the Bird's role. This he did by stopping the Royals 5-4 and by then munching on a watermelon during a post-game TV interview in which he accidentally spit a seed on the announcer.
BOS 53-40 BALT 53-41 NY 52-44 CLEV 43-49 MIL 43-51 DET 42-52 TOR 34-60
"Take that and that and that, Charlie Finley. I'm haunting him now. Finley never gave me a chance." Doing the speaking—and the haunting—was Glenn Abbott of Seattle (3-1), who used to pitch for Finley's A's. Abbott beat Oakland for the third time this season 4-3 to lift the Mariners out of the cellar and past the A's. (Since May 11, Seattle has been 34-31.) Also plaguing his former team was Dave Collins, whose two-run homer brought an 8-7 win over California (page 16). Seldom-used Larry Cox gave the Mariners a lift, too. Cox, primarily a bullpen catcher, had seven hits in 17 at bats for the week.
Getting the utmost from their Stone and Wood pitching combination, the White Sox (3-0) built their lead to three games. Steve Stone (10-7) stopped Boston 3-2 with the aid of Jim Spencer's 14th homer, and Wilbur Wood won his fourth game in a row, beating Toronto 10-3 as Lamar Johnson drove in five runs. Nifty relief work in both games earned Lerrin LaGrow his 16th and 17th saves.
John Mayberry and Al Cowens of second-place Kansas City (3-1) slugged their 15th homers as Paul Splittorff beat Detroit 8-1. After the Tigers rallied for two runs in the 10th inning the next day, Cowens settled matters 5-4 in the 12th with another homer.
Superb pitching enabled Texas (2-1) to take a pair of games in Baltimore. Bert Blyleven struck out 14 Orioles and yielded four hits as he won the first one 5-1. Baltimore's Pat Kelly, who fanned three times, said of Blyleven: "His pitches bit like Jaws and had the same effect—fatal." Gaylord Perry struck out nine Orioles and gave up four hits in nine innings the next day before removing himself from a scoreless duel with Jim Palmer. Two innings later Palmer departed, having struck out nine batters. The game's only run was scored in the 13th inning when rookie Bump Wills doubled and came in on Mike Hargrove's single.
Although Rod Carew's average slipped to .386, Larry Hisle and Lyman Bostock kept Minnesota (4-1) going. Hisle walloped his 21st and 22nd homers. Bostock, who apologized publicly for critical remarks he had made about Minnesota fans, started a home stand by driving in two runs as Dave Goltz held off California 3-2. In the next two games, Bostock further ingratiated himself to Twins' rooters by slamming home runs.
Answering accusations that he ducked out of the All-Star Game, Vida Blue of Oakland (1-4) said, "I was on medication four days. My arm was inflamed." Against Seattle, Blue went 8‚Öî innings and earned his ninth win, 5-3. Despite the 10-for-17 hitting of Mitchell Page, the A's bottomed out.
CHI 56-36 KC 53-39 MINN 52-43 TEX 48-44 CAL 43-48 SEA 43-55 OAK 40-53
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LARRY HISLE: "He's baseball's MVP," said Angel Pitcher Nolan Ryan after the Twin outfielder beat him 3-2 with an RBI bunt single. Hisle also batted .389, hit two homers and raised his league-leading RBI total to 84.