In his first four times up against St. Louis on Saturday, Greg Luzinski of Philadelphia (3-2) kept taking his eyes off the ball. Result: three strikeouts, one groundout. With Larry Bowa on first in the last of the 10th, Phillie Manager Danny Ozark felt he could get Luzinski to "stay with the pitch" by calling for a hit and run. Result: Luzinski eyed the ball, drilling it for a double, and the Phillies won 3-2.
Weary of being called "scrubbinis" or "reserves," the Cardinals' second-liners dubbed themselves the "Main Ingredients." The most prominent MI was Mike Phillips, who while filling in at second base had two RBIs and made two dazzling fielding plays as St. Louis (4-3) squeezed past Pittsburgh 6-5. But the main men were Keith Hernandez, who hit .524 and had eight RBIs, and Bob Forsch, who no-hit the Phillies.
"The idea this year is not to beat ourselves," said Manager Joe Torre as he explained the first step in New York's so-called 'New Era.' " At times, the Mets (3-4) did, indeed, have a new look. Steve Henderson's pinch grand slam decked Montreal 6-5. Then there was a 3-2 win over the Expos in which Outfielder Tom Grieve made a leaping eighth-inning catch that turned what seemed certain to be a bases-loaded triple into a sacrifice fly. Grieve then tied the score with a homer in the ninth, and Lenny Randle won it with a double in the 10th. And Craig Swan polished off Chicago 6-0 on five hits. At other times, though, the "New Era" Mets looked like the Mets of old, botching up fielding plays as they twice beat themselves.
April 24, 1978
Montreal's sterling young outfield was hurting: Warren Cromartie was out with a pulled hamstring, Ellis Valentine had a twisted knee and Andre Dawson had a bruised heel. Nonetheless, Dawson gave the Expos a 4-3 victory over the Mets with an 11th-inning homer. Larry Parrish batted .471 and drove in seven runs for the Expos (3-2), and Ross Grimsley muzzled the Mets 5-0.
Pittsburgh's Lumber Company looked more like the Slumber Company until the final game of the week. During their first seven games of the season, the Pirates (1-5) hit .176. Then they broke loose, bopping the Cubs 13-10 as Bill Robinson drove in six runs.
Dave Kingman slugged his first homer for the Cubs (4-2) as they trimmed the Pirates 4-3 and doubled in the winning run against the Mets as Ray Burris won 4-2. Then, before a crowd of 45,777, the largest ever for a Cub home opener, Chicago edged the Pirates 5-4 on Larry Biittner's homer in the ninth.
PHIL 4-3 NY 5-4 STL 5-4 CHI 4-4 MONT 3-4 PITT 3-5
The back's great reads the message printed on Dodger Outfielder Rick Monday's T shirt. That's his way of making a quick reply to the oft-asked questions about the ailment that hindered Monday last season. When he is unable to flash his T shirt to questioners, Monday merely punches his digital watch, which flashes: YES, FOLKS, THE BACK'S FINE. While Los Angeles was winning three of five games, Monday supplied even more graphic proof of his good health by hitting a homer in his first at bat this year at Dodger Stadium. Also proving they were hale were Tommy John and Ron Cey. John showed that his once damaged left arm is fine and that his sinker is better than ever by getting 23 infield outs as he beat Atlanta 5-1. Cey, who pulled a hamstring in spring training, homered and raised his early-season average to .414.
Before facing Pitcher Tommy Boggs of the Braves (1-3), the Dodgers learned of a scouting report on him that said, in essence, "He can't hold his stuff after five innings." Boggs led 4-2 in the sixth but then, right on schedule, bogged down, giving up a three-run homer to Steve Garvey and losing 7-4. Atlanta outfielder Gary Matthews, who was leading the majors in home runs with four, suffered a shoulder separation while making a diving catch and will be out for six weeks. The only upbeat news for the Braves came when they jolted the Padres 8-7 on a two-out, two-run, bottom-of-the-ninth homer by switch-hitting Darrel Chaney, his 12th in 10 seasons and his first ever as a right handed batter.
Another light-hitting infielder, Rick Auerbach of Cincinnati (4-2), also ended a game dramatically. Auerbach, a .217 career batter, was sent up to bunt in the 13th against the Giants. But when the count ran to 2 and 1, Manager Sparky Anderson figured "they'll give him a fastball" and let Auerbach swing away. In came the fastball and out went a double, which drove in the deciding run in the Reds' 7-6 victory.
After losing to the Reds five times in the first 10 days of the season, the Astros (3-3) finally beat Cincy, 6-1. Houston's Mark Lemongello hurled seven innings of no-hit ball and finished with a three-hitter.
Jack Clark turned on both his power and speed for San Francisco (3-2). Clark's homer helped upend the Reds 3-2, and his speed—he scored all the way from second on a long fly by Terry Whitfield—did in the Padres 3-2. Also excelling were Relievers Gary Lavelle (two wins) and Randy Moffitt (one win, one save). Vida Blue, however, was shelled in his first National League start, losing to Cincinnati 12-3.
George (Silence Is Golden) Hendrick of San Diego (1-3), who was named the Padres' MVP for 1977 by local baseball writers, refused to attend a dinner to accept the award, upholding his policy of not communicating with the press. One Padre who spoke up was Dave Winfield, who is donating $25,000 to buy seats at San Diego games this season for 25,000 underprivileged youngsters. Said Win-field, "Maybe I'm idealistic, but I have a social conscience. If we can help even two kids, it'll be worth it." The two outfielders collaborated to give the Padres a 3-2 win over Atlanta, Winfield dashing home with the go-ahead run in the ninth on Hendrick's double.
CIN 7-2 LA 5-2 SF 4-3 SD 2-4 HOUS 3-6 ATL 1-5
"It's a heckuva thing when you see the tying run at bat for the other team and you can't stop laughing," cracked Kansas City Manager Whitey Herzog. Keeping Herzog in stitches were the glowering Mad Hungarian antics of Al Hrabosky. And the former Cardinal made sure he kept his manager smiling by saving two games. Bringing further joy to Herzog were Steve Busby, who returned to the Royals after an absence of almost two years, and Amos Otis, who came back after a few hours. Busby, once the whiz of the Royal staff, had not pitched a major league game since July 6, 1976 because of shoulder and knee injuries that required surgery. In his comeback effort against the Indians, Busby allowed just two hits before being removed in the sixth with a 3-0 lead. The Royals hung on to win that game 5-4. Otis' comeback occurred after he was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital. He passed a kidney stone there and then went to the ball park, where he slammed a three-run homer that handed the Orioles a 5-2 loss.
About the only one who had a complaint about the first-place Royals (5-0) was ground-keeper George Toma, who said he had to talk to rookie First Baseman Clint Hurdle "about where he spits his tobacco juice. I gotta train him to spit on the dirt outside first, not on the artificial turf. Tobacco juice is one of the hardest things to get out of the turf."
Aglow, too, were the A's (5-1), who got superlative efforts from four former Giants picked up in the Vida Blue deal: Gary Alexander (three game-deciding hits), Dave Heaverlo (two wins and a save in relief), John Johnson (a 1-0 winner over Seattle in his big league debut), and Alan Wirth, who gave up only two earned runs in two starts. Wayne Gross' homer in the seventh toppled California 2-1, and Jeff Newman's ninth-inning blast beat Seattle 4-3. Oakland pitchers, who had a 4.04 ERA last season, hurled 29⅖ consecutive runless innings and thus far have a 1.16 staff ERA. "Last year I took Maalox," Manager Bobby Winkles said. "So far this season I'm able to put chili on my hot dogs."
There was, however, no joy for the Mariners (0-7), whose losing streak reached eight games. Worse, injuries sidelined No. 1 starter Glenn Abbott and bullpen ace Enrique Romo. Summing up his plight, Manager Darrell Johnson said: "All you can do is scream."
Because the Twins had to catch a plane, it was clear that their game in California would have to be suspended after the Angels (4-2) batted in the 11th. But California's Joe Rudi made it an official game in plane-catching time by breaking up a scoreless duel with a homer. The win went to Reliever Dave La-Roche, who also had two saves. Nolan Ryan went the first 10 innings for the Angels and struck out 12 batters.
Superb fielding and eight homers enabled Chicago (2-3) to beat Toronto 9-5 and 5-4. In the first game, Eric Soderholm hit a two-run homer and made four exceptional grabs at third base. The next day Second Baseman Jorge Orta walloped two home runs and ended the game with a deft fielding play.
Four fresh faces gave Minnesota (4-3) a lift. Roger Erickson beat the Angels 8-1. In a 6-5 conquest of the Mariners, Outfielder Willie Norwood doubled in the 11th and scored the winning run on a single by Third Baseman Larry Wolfe. And Outfielder Bombo Rivera scored three times as the Twins whipped Seattle 14-5. In that romp, the Twins got five RBIs from Craig Kusick.
Three former Pirates helped Texas (1-5) defeat New York 5-2. Dock Ellis earned the victory, Richie Zisk homered, and Al Oliver singled, doubled and scored twice. Preserving the triumph with four strong innings of relief was Roger Moret. Two days later, Moret was hospitalized after having gone into a catatonic trance during which he stood rigid in the locker room for almost an hour with a shower clog in his right hand.
KC 5-1 OAK 6-2 CAL 5-3 CHI 4-3 MINN 6-5 TEX 2-5 SEA 2-9
For almost two weeks the Yankees' behavior was exemplary. Even the M&M Boys—Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris—came out of the past to hoist the world championship flag on opening day in the Bronx. Camaraderie and tranquillity prevailed. That was the day Reggie Jackson, who had homered on his last three swings of the 1977 World Series at Yankee Stadium, connected again on his first cut of the home season as New York beat Chicago 4-2. Ed Figueroa then defeated the White Sox 3-2 with the aid of a two-run, in-side-the-park homer by Mickey Rivers. Surrounding that game, though, was 1978's first Crankee Yankee brouhaha, which was touched off when five players were fined for unexcused absences from a benefit lunch the day before.
Jim Rice of Boston (4-1) hit .478 and unloaded three homers, one as Bill Lee stopped Chicago 5-0 and another as Lee beat Texas 12-4. In a 5-4 win over the Rangers, Rice resorted to singles, his first tying the score in the eighth and his next sending in the decisive run in the 10th. With Bill Campbell getting a cortisone shot in his sore arm, the Red Sox relied on Dick Drago for bullpen duty. He responded with a victory and a save.
Milwaukee (3-2) extended its winning string to five games by starting off with three convincing triumphs. The Brewers crunched the Orioles 13-5 as Cecil Cooper slugged a grand-slam homer to give Milwaukee a record-equalling three in three games. Gorman Thomas hit a pair of two-run shots to wipe out the Yankees 9-6. And the next day Moose Haas set a club record by striking out 14 batters while defeating New York 5-3.
Baltimore (2-3) then cooled off the Milwaukee bats. The Orioles, who had lost their first five games, overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Brewers 6-5, and then Jim Palmer showed that his arm no longer is ailing by silencing Milwaukee 7-0 on two hits.
An RBI single by Ron Pruitt in the ninth made Cleveland (1-4) a 5-4 victor over Boston. Andre Thornton stroked a three-run homer in that game and accounted for the only two home runs the Tribe hit all week. Homers haunted the Blue Jays (1-4), who were tagged for 12. Toronto's lone win came in its home opener, a 10-8 struggle against Detroit in which Roy Howell had four hits.
MIL 5-2 DET 5-2 BOS 4-3 NY 3-4 CLEV 2-4 TOR 2-5 BALT 2-5
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BOB FORSCH: The 28-year-old righthander pitched the first no-hit game of the season and the first by a Cardinal since Bob Gibson in 1971. He allowed only two walks as he mowed down Philadelphia 5-0.