"Here's our new theme song," yelled Pitcher Pete Falcone of St. Louis (1-5) as a tune blared forth from the clubhouse stereo. If nothing else, the song—which was about "endless torture"—was appropriate, the Cardinals having lost 11 in a row, their longest such streak since 1916. When the Cards took the field that night against the Expos, the P.A. announcer introduced the club's real theme song, We Can Do It, but someone mistakenly put on the wrong record, The Star-Spangled Banner. Nonetheless, the Redbirds' torture ended, John Denny handcuffing Montreal 2-0 on two hits and Ted Simmons (page 36) driving in both runs. When a player crosses the plate after homering, he usually gets a hand from a teammate, but when Simmons came home after a 360-foot drive against the Cubs, he got the thumb from Umpire Paul Runge. Simmons and Runge had been jawing all evening. And when Simmons tipped his helmet toward home as he circled the bases, Runge felt he was trying to show him up. The Cardinals traded Pitcher Eric Rasmussen to the Padres for Outfielder George Hendrick.
Clutch hits and strong pitching put Chicago (5-0) atop the East. Dave Roberts shut out the Cardinals 6-0, and Rick Reuschel got relief help from Bruce Sutter as he won twice. The Cubs bumped the Phillies out of first place with a 6-4 win in which Greg Gross tripled across two runs with two out in the ninth, and Manny Trillo hit his first homer of the season in the 10th. Winning that game was Sutter, who has not allowed Philadelphia any earned runs during 28⅖ innings and 15 relief appearances dating back to 1976.
On the whole, the Phillies (1-4) were glad they did not play at home. They committed eight errors and needed three runs in the ninth to squirm past Atlanta 6-5.
June 4, 1978
Rudy May of Montreal (4-3) won twice, 4-1 in St. Louis and 15-1 in Pittsburgh. Mike Garman, who was recently acquired from the Dodgers, saved May's first victory with 2⅖ innings of one-hit relief.
Shutout pitching by John Candelaria and Kent Tekulve, plus a grand slam by Rennie Stennett, enabled Pittsburgh (3-4) to beat Montreal 7-0. Candelaria and Tekulve then combined for a 2-1 win over the Expos.
The Mets (4-2) continued to alternate between tenacious and atrocious. They overcame a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Phillies 6-5 on Steve Henderson's double in the 11th and beat the Pirates 3-2 on Lenny Randle's single in the 11th. Then, in their 13th come-from-behind victory of the year, the Mets shook off a 7-3 Astro lead and prevailed 9-7. And while New York was surprising some opponents, it was also surprising itself. When Rightfielder Bruce Boisclair scooped up Stennett's soft single with the bases loaded in the 11th and the Mets ahead of the Pirates 5-4, it was expected that he would throw to the plate in hopes of nailing Frank Taveras, who had been on second. Boisclair threw the ball all right, but not home. Unaware that Taveras had held up until Stennett's hit fell safely, Boisclair stunned Shortstop Tim Foli by chucking the ball to him at second base as the decisive run scored.
CHI 23-17 PHIL 20-19 MONT 22-21 NY 21-24 PITT 19-23 ST.L 15-29
"When you see all those seats filled and hear the crowd cheering, it adds 10 mph to your fastball," said Bob Knepper of the first-place Giants (4-2) after smoking the Dodgers 6-1. On hand to cheer Knepper were 43,646 fans, the most ever for a Candlestick Park night game. They also applauded Willie McCovey, who had five RBIs for the night, giving him two standing ovations after he socked a three-run homer. Other Giants getting big hands were Ed Halicki, who defeated Houston 9-1; Bill Madlock, who capped a three-run ninth with a single that beat the Astros 3-2; and Jack Clark, who batted .478. Vic Harris was given a less enthusiastic reception when he hit for Pitcher John Montefusco in the sixth inning of a scoreless game against the Astros. When Harris, who was one for 33, came to the plate, he was booed by the crowd, which moments later reveled in his two-run single that led to a 2-0 win.
Inching to within half a game of the Giants were the Reds (5-2) as Bill Bonham (6-0) and Tom Seaver (4-4) both won twice. Bonham beat Atlanta 10-0 and San Diego 5-2. Seaver, who trimmed the Padres 1-0 and 3-1, lowered his ERA to 3.95 and moved past Bob Feller and Warren Spahn into seventh place on the alltime strikeout list. Seaver increased his career total to 2,591. Doug Bair gained his sixth and seventh saves and lowered his ERA to 0.62 while preserving Seaver's victories.
Manager Tom Lasorda of Los Angeles (3-3) usually cannot wait to gab with the press, but last week there was a radical change in his open-door policy. Five errors and a 3-2 loss in San Diego irked Lasorda so much that he slammed his clubhouse office door, breaking the lock in the process. When he tried to open the door, Lasorda found he was locked in and had to bang on it to get someone to let him out. Burt Hooton, Terry Forster and Manny Mota helped keep their skipper's ire to a minimum. Hooton and Forster twice teamed to slow down the Giants, beating San Francisco 4-1 and 3-1 on a two-hitter. Forster, a fireballing lefthanded reliever, held the Giants hitless for four innings as he got his seventh and eighth saves. With two on and two out in the seventh inning of his second outing, Forster threw a slider to right-handed-hitting Mike Ivie, who grounded out. Thus far Forster has relied heavily on that pitch against righties, but when they look for it later in the season, he hopes to confound them by using "a sinker away and getting lots of ground balls or strikeouts." Manny Mota did not wait to change. He called home to the Dominican Republic and told his 14-year-old daughter to bring his favorite bat to Los Angeles. It is the bat he used to stroke a ninth-inning double in Game 3 of last year's playoffs against the Phillies. With his prized lumber in hand, Mota, who had been 2 for 7 this season, broke up a 1-1 game against the Padres with a three-run pinch double, and the Dodgers went on to win 8-1.
Even though Terry Puhl of Houston (1-5) batted .423 and extended his hitting streak to 18 games, he scored only twice. One of those runs was particularly valuable. Puhl was on base after a bunt single when Jesus Alou clouted his first homer since 1974, a three-run shot that helped beat the Mets 5-4.
John D'Acquisto of San Diego (3-4), who has always had a lot of stuff but has had difficulty keeping it under control, seemed to be harnessing his talent. In 12 innings he yielded two runs and six walks and struck out 12. That left D'Acquisto with a 1.23 ERA and inspired Gaylord Perry to bring a battery cable to the clubhouse, attach one end to his right arm and the other to D'Acquisto's and say, "Yes, I can feel the flow."
Before facing the Reds, Manager Bobby Cox of Atlanta (3-3) gave his troops a pep talk. Then the inspired Braves went out and lost 10-0. More effective than rhetoric was a homer by Gary Matthews that accounted for Atlanta's first run after 21 scoreless innings and helped stop Houston 6-4.
SF 27-15 CIN 28-17 LA 25-18 HOUS 19-22 SD 19-24 ATL 16-25
Even with Fred Lynn suspended for three games for bumping an umpire and George Scott out with a broken finger, Boston (6-2) swatted 11 home runs and moved into first place. Dwight Evans homered twice and Jim Rice once as Bill Lee (7-1) beat the Tigers 6-3. Luis Tiant baffled Detroit 9-3 and 1-0, winning the second on a home run by Rice, his fourth of the week and 17th of the season. That put Rice two games ahead of Babe Ruth's 60-homer pace of 1927 and three up on Roger Maris' rate when he hit 61 in 1961.
Ron Guidry of New York (5-1) raised his record to 6-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.72 as he muzzled Cleveland 10-1 on five hits and 11 strikeouts. Thurman Munson had eight RBIs, Chris Chambliss hit .435 and Jim Spencer decked Toronto 4-3 with a pinch grand slam.
Tom Murphy of Toronto (2-6), who served up the gopher ball to Spencer, faced him in a similar situation the next day before a New York Saturday crowd of 55,367. The Blue Jays led 4-1 in the ninth when Spencer came up with two men on and Murphy pitching in relief. Once again Spencer gave the ball a long ride, but this time it was caught against the rightfield fence by Bob Bailor. Rick Bosetti, who is drawing raves for his play in centerfield, had two game-winning hits. His triple broke a ninth-inning tie in the 4-1 win in New York and his 12th-inning single made Jesse Jefferson a 2-1 victor over Boston.
There was plenty of classy pitching throughout the league. A rarity was achieved by the Orioles (5-3), whose first three wins of the week were by the progressively lower scores of 3-0, 2-0 and 1-0. Scott McGregor picked up the initial victory with a four-hitter against Cleveland; he was followed by Mike Flanagan, with a two-hitter, and Jim Palmer, with his 47th career shutout. Andres Mora's homer supplied the only run Palmer needed, even though Palmer had phoned Manager Earl Weaver the day he was to pitch and told him that his shoulder ached and he wanted to skip his turn. Weaver disregarded the call and later said, "Palmer pitched most of the game, throwing the ball 84 and 85 miles an hour. In the ninth he was up to 87 and 88. He's always been one of the best finishers around." The string of shutouts ended when McGregor, backed by Larry Harlow and Lee May homers, held off Detroit 2-1. The Orioles beat the Tigers 4-3, Bill Smith's home run in the eighth tying the score and his two-out double in the ninth settling the outcome.
In three successive Milwaukee (4-1) wins, 22-year-old righthander Larry Sorensen tossed a five-hitter to beat California 2-1, Jerry Augustine five-hit Oakland 3-2 and Mike Caldwell defeated the A's 7-1 on six hits.
Most of Detroit's nifty mound work, including a pair of four-hitters, was wasted. Jack Billingham lost 2-0 in Baltimore, and Dave Rozema and Jack Morris pitched in vain while losing 1-0 to Boston. The Tigers (2-6), who began the week with a .294 batting average, the majors' highest, hit .219 as they fell from the division lead to third place. Jason Thompson's homer in the seventh knocked off the Red Sox 2-1.
David Clyde of Cleveland (2-4) beat the Orioles twice, 3-2 with the aid of Dennis Kinney, and 6-2. Rick Wise (2-8) lost 4-3 in Baltimore for his fifth one-run setback.
BOS 30-15 NY 26-15 DET 24-17 MIL 21-20 BALT 20-23 CLEV 19-22 TOR 16-27
And now there's the Mud Squad, a band of Angels who are mired in reserve roles. The Mudders helped California (4-2) pull within half a game of the front-running A's, squad leader Tony Solaita singling to short left in the seventh and scoring squad member Rance Mulliniks all the way from first to edge the Brewers 6-5. Don Baylor slugged his 11th and 12th homers, and Frank Tanana (8-1) breezed past Chicago 6-0.
In a startling move, Bobby Winkles quit as manager of the A's (3-3) while they were in first place. Jack McKeon, whom Winkles had succeeded last June, replaced Winkles, who apparently resigned to escape meddlesome owner Charlie Finley. After losing their first two games under McKeon and dropping out of the lead, the A's won twice and reclaimed first place. Putting them back in front was a 4-3 win in Chicago, in which Mitchell Page slammed his third homer of the week and Jim Essian singled across the clinching run in the 10th. Rookie John Johnson's 8-0 win over the White Sox sliced his ERA to 1.53.
Doug Bird of Kansas City (3-3) almost matched one of Walter Johnson's records, albeit an unenviable one, when he unleashed three wild pitches in one inning, one shy of the Big Train's major league mark. Al Hrabosky gained his seventh save as the Royals, down 5-0, overtook the Mariners 6-5. After Dennis Leonard lost his fifth straight, Manager Whitey Herzog tried to humor his erstwhile ace, telling Leonard there was no plane ticket available for him to get to Minnesota a day early to rest up for his next start. When Herzog suggested, "Maybe you could go by Amtrak," Leonard said, "But I'd get there too late to pitch." To which Herzog replied, "That's the idea."
Al Oliver of Texas (4-3) settled two games with his bat. His three RBIs polished off Seattle 5-4, and his 11th-inning single clipped Minnesota 3-2.
Mike Marshall of Minnesota (3-2) saved two games and was accused by Jim Sundberg of the Rangers, for whom he played last season, of "using sandpaper to cut the ball."
When asked why he continually pawed at the dirt in the batter's box, Ruppert Jones of Seattle (3-5) said, "I'm filling in the holes. I like to stand on top of the ground. Only dead people are under the ground." Jones put some life in the Mariner attack with five doubles.
Adding to the woes of the White Sox (1-6) was the discovery that Claudell Washington, obtained from Texas two weeks ago for Bobby Bonds, still has a bad ankle. Washington was put on the disabled list.
OAK 26-17 CAL 25-17 KC 22-19 TEX 22-20 MINN 17-26 SEA 17-31 CHI 12-28
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WILLIE MONTANEZ: The Met first baseman walloped three homers, batted .476 and drove in 11 runs, two in a 6-5 victory over the Phillies and another pair in a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh as New York climbed to fourth place.