During the break for the All-Star Game, Pittsburgh Pitcher Jerry Reuss "slept late, sat on the porch, heard the crickets chirp, stuck my feet in the Atlantic Ocean and washed away the first half of the season." Reuss had to wash away a lot, particularly his 4-10 record. Clearly cleansed, Reuss recorded his second straight post-vacation, complete-game victory by downing the Braves 6-3. Relievers Kent Tekulve and Rich Gossage also helped the Pirates (6-1) advance to within a game of first place. Tekulve did not allow an earned run in 5‚Öî innings and won twice, improving his record to 9-1. His first win came when the Bucs scored twice in the bottom of the 13th on singles by Rennie Stennett, Ed Ott and Omar Moreno and a bases-loaded walk to Jim Fregosi to beat the Braves 7-6. Tekulve's second triumph was a 3-2 decision over Houston, Stennett singling across the clinching run in the 11th. Gossage registered his 17th save, preserving John Candelaria's 11th victory by containing Houston 3-2. Then, after the Pirates scored five runs in the top of the eighth, Gossage blanked the Braves for two innings to secure a 10-6 win. Bill Robinson walloped his second grand slam in three days during the five-run uprising. In all, Robinson had four homers and drove in 13 runs.
Looking scruffy is Al Hrabosky's way of cleaning up his act. St. Louis (7-1) owner Gussie Busch gave Hrabosky permission to regrow the mustache and beard that new Manager Vern Rapp had ordered shaved off last spring. The hirsute Hrabosky looked in a mirror and said, "I felt like cutting my throat before. Now I see something ugly. That's good." Better still for the Cardinals were Hrabosky's third win and his eighth save, the former coming when the Cardinals rallied past the Braves 5-3, the latter when they scored four times in the eighth to overhaul the Reds 4-1. Eric Rasmussen and John Urrea got 3-0 wins over the Reds and the Braves, respectively. Rasmussen, who paid $150 during the off-season to have his first name legally changed from Harry to Eric, continued his mastery over the Reds by throttling them 10-3 with the aid of a grand slam by Keith Hernandez. In wrapping up a 7-1 home stand, St. Louis had a six-game winning streak, its longest in more than two years. That spurt gave the Cardinals a 37-18 record at Busch Stadium.
Chicago (4-5) had to scramble, scrape and scratch to stay in first place. Rick Reuschel (15-3) won twice, baffling the Reds 3-0 and beating them in relief two days later. In that game Cincinnati led 6-0 in the first, 10-7 in the third, 14-10 in the eighth and 15-14 in the 12th—only to lose 16-15 in the 13th. Reuschel began the decisive rally with a single, sprinted to third on a single by Steve Ontiveros and scored on a single by Dave Rosello. Reuschel was the 13th and last pitcher used in the four-hour-50-minute marathon. Two major league records were equaled as the teams slugged five home runs in the first inning and 11 altogether. The Cubs hit six, including two each by George Mitterwald and Bill Buckner. All told, Chicago had 24 hits, Cincinnati 19.
August 7, 1977
Also doing some robust hitting were the normally anemic Mets (4-2), who pounded out 30 hits while knocking off the Giants 8-3 and 7-4. A home run by Felix Millan, the first given up by Giant Reliever Gary Lavelle in 114 innings over the past two seasons, was instrumental in the second win. Rookie Steve Henderson continued to hit well, batting .435. Craig Swan gave up just three hits as the Mets defeated the Dodgers 1-0, and Jerry Koosman, aided by Skip Lockwood's 16th save, downed the Padres 4-1.
Playing it safe, the Expos (3-6) learned, was not all that safe. To provide their starting pitchers with ample rest, the Expos had them travel in advance of the team. However, all three—Wayne Twitchell, Don Stanhouse and Steve Rogers—came up losers. Routine bunts also caused trouble for the Expos; they botched five in a row. One attempt was turned into a double play even though the prospective bunter, Pitcher Stan Bahnsen, did not make contact with the ball. When Bahnsen took a pitch instead of bunting, Wayne Garrett was thrown out going to third base and Pete Mackanin was doubled up after getting a late start for second.
Troubled, too, were the Phillies (4-4). Returning from the West Coast, they were not greeted at the airport by the usual chartered bus and had to shuttle to the Veterans Stadium parking lot aboard an air-freight truck that Steve Carlton labeled Noah's Ark. It was well past 3 a.m. before most of the Phillies got to bed. That night they forgot to cover bases and muffed fly balls, and Pitcher Randy Lerch took a full windup that allowed Willie McCovey to steal second during San Francisco's 7-0 romp. But the next day the well-rested Phillies drubbed the Giants 9-3 as Carlton won his 14th game. Greg Luzinski hit his third homer of the week and 24th of the season in that contest. During the week, Luzinski had 10 RBIs, giving him 25 in 17 games. Jim Lonborg stopped the Dodgers 5-1 on two hits, and Garry Maddox' 12th-inning triple beat the Padres 6-4.
CHI 59-41 PITT 59-43 PHIL 58-43 ST. L 56-47 MONT 48-53 NY 42-58
The Astros and Giants won doubleheaders; the Reds achieved individual goals but were being called the Big Dead Machine; the Padres got a rare complete game; and the Braves were happy to be home. But only the Dodgers (6-2) had a winning week. Dramatic home runs propelled Los Angeles to a pair of wins. Davey Lopes, given a life after Met Rightfielder Bruce Boisclair dropped his foul fly, beat New York with a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. And Pinch Hitter Lee Lacy hit a two-out, two-on homer in the eighth to lift the Dodgers over the Phillies 7-5. Tommy John (11-4) beat Philadelphia 2-1, Doug Rau (12-2) stopped Montreal 4-1, Reliever Mike Garman saved three games, and suddenly the Dodgers had a 14-game lead over second-place Cincinnati.
Pete Rose of the Reds (2-7) set a career switch-hitting record when he rapped out his 2,881st hit, one more than the late Frankie Frisch, and Johnny Bench joined Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Gabby Hartnett as the only catchers to drive home 1,000 runs. But the Reds were shut out twice and once again suffered from deplorable pitching; Cincinnati hurlers gave up 36 runs and 53 hits in one four-game stretch. A 6-2 win in Chicago ended the Reds' eight-game losing streak, their longest since 1966.
Dave Freisleben's 4-3 win over Montreal was only the second complete game of the year by a San Diego pitcher and the first in 74 games, a big league record to forget. George Hendrick hit three home runs, drove in 11 runs and batted .438. Rookie Third Baseman Tucker Ashford's two-run homer in the ninth gave the Padres (3-5) a 7-5 win over the Expos. But San Diego lost a 5-2, 15-inning game to Montreal. The Padres had 13 hits (six by rookie Gene Richards), eight walks and eight stolen bases, but stranded 18 runners.
Eight Astro doubles in one game, three by rookie Terry Puhl (a Puhl hitter?), tied a club record and led to an 11-3 win over Chicago. Houston (4-4) won three other games from the Cubs, with Joe Niekro leaving his usual bullpen seat to pick up two of them as a starter, 6-4 and 1-0. His first victory came in a doubleheader sweep, the Astros taking the opener 10-6.
On the same day that Joe Niekro won 1-0, brother Phil celebrated Atlanta's return home by downing Pittsburgh 5-3. Phil picked three Pirates off base in that game, and in the sixth inning struck out four batters, one of whom reached base after a third-strike knuckler eluded Catcher Biff Pocoroba. While on the road, the Braves (1-6) lost seven of eight, and their away record is a baseball-worst 11-40. At home the Braves are 25-25.
San Francisco began the week by sweeping a doubleheader from Montreal, 3-0 and 5-4. After that, the Giants lost four of five.
LA 65-38 CIN 50-51 HOU 48-56 SF 47-57 SD 45-61 ATL 36-65
As Kansas City Manager Whitey Herzog boarded the Royals' bus after the team's second straight loss in Chicago, a White Sox fan shouted, "Tomorrow you'll be a believer." Replied Herzog, "I believe tonight." What made Herzog a believer was a rally that carried the Sox from a 3-0 sixth-inning deficit to a 6-4 win and a 5½-game lead over the Royals. The Sox (5-1) made other believers, too, by hitting 11 home runs, batting .336 and coming from behind for all their wins. In Boston they trailed 7-3 after seven, but won 8-7 as Jim Spencer hit a three-run homer in the eighth and Brian Downing cleared Fenway Park's Green Monster in the ninth. Leading the assault were Richie Zisk (.400, nine RBIs), Eric Soderholm (four homers), Jorge Orta (.417) and Ralph Garr (.400).
Reliever Doug Bird hiked his record to 8-1 with a pair of 5-4 wins over Cleveland, K.C.'s only successes in five games. Bird's first victory came when Bob Heise bunted home the tying run in the ninth and scored the winner in the 11th on a single by George Brett, who batted .458 during the week.
Three extra-inning wins buoyed the Twins (6-2). Lyman Bostock homered in the 12th to beat Oakland 10—9; Larry Hisle singled in the 11th to knock off the A's 2-1 as Dave Goltz won his 12th game; and Roy Smalley homered in the 14th to finish off Cleveland 4-3. Mike Cubbage, who had hit only one home run all season, swatted three in three games. And Reliever Tom Johnson yielded just one run in 10‚Öì innings while notching his 10th and 11th saves and 11th and 12th wins.
Bert Blyleven and Gaylord Perry tossed back-to-back shutouts for Texas (5-1), beating Toronto 14-0 and 3-0, respectively. Jim Sundberg's homer in the bottom of the 12th overhauled the Tigers 6-5.
Don Baylor of California (4-4) seems to have emerged from his season-long hitting slump, thanks to tips from former Cleveland Manager Frank Robinson, now the Angels' batting coach. "I moved him closer to the plate, forward in the box, had him spread his legs a bit, lowered his hands and tried to get him to keep his weight back," says Robinson. Remembering all that, Baylor hit .333 in 14 games, and last week had four homers and 13 RBIs. Two of Baylor's home runs helped Nolan Ryan beat Seattle 7-2.
Mitchell Page of Oakland (2-6) stole his 25th base in a row, tying Baylor's league record. But the A's continued to struggle, although Vida Blue beat California's Frank Tanana 2-1 when Larry Murray missed a squeeze-bunt sign and hit a two-run triple.
John Montague of Seattle (2-6) equaled Steve Busby's league record by retiring 33 consecutive batters in two games during the past two weeks. A walk to Minnesota's Craig Kusick ended Montague's feat eight batters short of the major league record 41 retired by San Francisco's Jim Barr in 1972, and his hitless streak was ended at 13‚Öì innings when Dave Skaggs of the Orioles singled. Dan Meyer drove in five runs as the Mariners outlasted the Twins 9-7.
CHI 61-37 KC 55-42 MINN 58-45 TEX 53-45 CAL 47-52 SEA 45-61 OAK 42-59
Squandering big leads had become a trademark of Boston pitchers until three rookies—Don Aase, Mike Paxton and Bob Stanley—came to the rescue. Aase (pronounced AH-see), fresh up from the Red Sox' farm club in Pawtucket, R.I., beat the Brewers 4-3 in his major league debut. "Aase's fastball was overpowering," said Catcher Carlton Fisk. Aase struck out 11, the most by any Red Sox pitcher all season. Paxton stopped Milwaukee 12-0 on four singles, and Stanley, relieving Luis Tiant after he had been hit on the hand by a line drive, hurled 2‚Öì scoreless innings to complete a 3-0 victory over Nolan Ryan and the Angels. Before the rookies took command, Boston pitchers had been shelled for 26 runs in three games. Also helping the Red Sox (4-3) stay in hot pursuit of the Orioles (page 16) was Jim Rice, who hit his 25th, 26th and 27th home runs to take the league lead from teammate George Scott. Rice drove in nine runs and had 12 hits in 27 at bats to raise his average to .319, the third highest in the league.
Rookie pitchers also gave Detroit (4-2) a lift. Bob Sykes, 22, stopped Toronto 6-2 on a two-hitter to move the Tigers into fifth place. Dave Rozema, 21, gave up four homers but beat Texas 13-6 for his 10th win. Sinkerballer Fernando Arroyo, 25, beat Chicago 3-1, holding the White Sox to eight hits and getting 17 ground-ball outs as Detroit climbed to fourth place. On the negative side, Mark Fidrych was placed on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
There was much speculation that Manager Billy Martin would be replaced at any moment, but Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner said, "You can bet he will have his job in October." Graig Nettles slugged his 23rd and 24th home runs for New York (5-1), and Dick Tidrow saved Don Gullett's ninth and 10th victories.
Grousing about anything and everything has become S.O.P. these days, but Milwaukee's Don Money, who holds major league fielding records as both a second and third baseman, did not utter a whimper when Manager Alex Grammas asked him to shift to left field so newcomer Lenn Sakata could be installed at second base. Money helped the Brewers (3-5) rebound from four one-run losses in a row by hitting his 15th homer in a 14-5 rout of the Red Sox. He also hit his 16th as Milwaukee trimmed the Blue Jays 7-3, and drove in two runs in a 3-2 win over Toronto.
Cleveland and Toronto were both 0-6. Jim Norris became the first Indian to steal a base in 36 games, but the offense was still lackluster. Even more futile were the Blue Jays, who hit .204 and were outscored 41-10.
BALT 59-43 BOS 57-43 NY 57-45 DET 46-54 MIL 46-56 CLEV 43-55 TOR 34-66
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JIM BARR: After going five weeks without a victory, the San Francisco righthander hurled two straight shutouts, stopping the Montreal Expos 3-0 on four hits and beating Philadelphia 7-0 to improve his record to 10-7.