When New York (5-1) beat Kansas City in Game 5 of the playoffs to win the American League pennant last fall, dejected Royal Shortstop Fred Patek sat alone in the dugout, his face buried in his hands, for what seemed an eternity. On Wednesday night Milwaukee Catcher Buck Martinez did the same thing for 15 minutes after the Yankees scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the slumping Brewers 8-7 and oust them from second place. The Yankees scored the winning run when Martinez misplayed Lou Piniella's suicide bunt with two out. Milwaukee (1-6) Manager George Bamberger called it "the worst game I have witnessed in my whole career, and I've been around for 35 years."
Catfish Hunter continued his pitching revival for the Yankees (6-4), shutting out the fifth-place Orioles 3-0 and then beating them again 2-1 in a game ended by rain after 5½ innings. Ron Guidry (16-2) got his fifth shutout of the season as the Yanks beat the Brewers 9-0. Although the Yankees moved from fourth to second in the standings, they gained only half a game on the division-leading Red Sox.
Boston (5-2) maintained its eight-game lead for two reasons: the return of the Red Sox hitters and the superb pitching of Bob Stanley (9-1), who won three games. In a 9-7 victory over Cleveland, Stanley got his seventh win in relief. Jim Rice, who batted .533 and had 10 RBIs, hit his 26th and 27th home runs in that game. Then the Red Sox came from behind three times to defeat the Indians 6-5 in 13 innings, with Stanley picking up his eighth win. Liking what he saw. Manager Don Zimmer decided to give Stanley his first start of the season. He allowed seven, hits in seven innings, won his ninth game, and the Sox swept Milwaukee in a doubleheader, 3-1 and 11-4.
August 20, 1978
Baltimore bats were silent. In four straight losses the Orioles (2-5) scored only four runs. Included in that streak was a 2-0 defeat by Kansas City in which Oriole starter Scott McGregor (11-10) retired the first 20 Royals on 66 pitches and had a perfect game until Hal McRae doubled with two out in the seventh, igniting a four-hit, two-run assault. Then, in a night game interrupted by power failures for an hour and 16 minutes, the Oriole hitters finally came alive as Lee May and Pat Kelly homered to help beat New York 6-4.
Detroit (3-2) moved into a tie for third place with Milwaukee. The Tigers had to place Mark Fidrych on the disabled list for the balance of the season because of tendinitis in his right shoulder but the other Tiger pitchers were doing just fine. Jim Slaton (12-9) pitched his second shutout of the year, defeating the White Sox 8-0; Kip Young (4-1) six-hit Texas and won 5-2; and Jack Billingham (12-5) beat Chicago 7-3.
Cleveland's only victory in a 1-5 week came against the Red Sox, with Rick Wise (9-14) beating his old teammates 5-1 for the third straight time. For Toronto (5-2), it was an ex-Indian, Rico Carty, who provided most of the hitting. His four home runs lifted his season total to 20.
BOS 73-42 NY 65-50 DET 62-51 MIL 62-51 BALT 62-53 CLEV 52-61 TOR 45-70
Kansas City (4-3) is a team of extremes. The Royals were last in the league in home runs (61) and next to last in fielding, but they led in steals (156), doubles (218) and triples (42). And the Royals continued to lead the division, although their edge shrank to a game over surging California (5-2). Hal McRae said he was feeling "hitterish" again. Until Jim Palmer blanked him on Thursday, McRae had hit safely in 24 of 25 games. Whatever McRae had, it must have been contagious. Rookie Clint Hurdle went 4 for 4 in a 10-4 defeat of Chicago, tied a game against Toronto with a two-run home run in the eighth, and singled home the winning run in the 10th as the Royals beat the Blue Jays 9-8. Larry Gura won his 10th, stopping Baltimore 2-0. Since reading Super Food for Super Athletes, Gura has eaten only liver before he pitches.
California got back-to-back victories from Frank Tanana (15-7) and Nolan Ryan (6-10) for the first time in four weeks. Despite yielding five runs to Oakland in seven innings, Tanana won 16-5. Ryan beat Seattle 3-1 and struck out 10 to regain the league strikeout lead (184) from New York's Ron Guidry. In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader in Seattle, Dave LaRoche (9-5) won in relief, 7-5, as Danny Goodwin, a onetime No. 1 draft choice who was called up from El Paso to be the Angels' designated hitter, singled in the 10th to drive home the deciding runs after he had tied the game in the ninth with a home run.
Four wins and four losses kept Oakland in its place—third. Rick Langford (6-7) won his fifth in a row, beating Minnesota 2-0 on a three-hit shutout. Earlier, the 26-year-old righthander pitched a five-hit, 4-3 win over Seattle. Matt Keough (7-9), who has been 1 and 5 since the All-Star break, gave up five runs in 1⅖ innings in the 16-5 loss to the Angels. "If I don't get going right away, I'm gone," said Keough, who has bursitis in his right knee. Keough was referring to owner Charlie Finley's decision to send Wayne Gross and Dwayne Murphy to the minors. But Dell Alston—who told the owner, "If you want a pinch-runner, get someone from the AAU, I want to play"—arrived from Vancouver and batted in the winning run in a 4-3 decision over Seattle. Mike Edwards became the first second baseman since 1899 to make two unassisted double plays in one game.
Jon Matlack (10-9) won twice for Texas (4-1), beating Cleveland 3-2 and 8-2. Al Oliver began the week a fraction more than one point behind Rod Carew for the league batting lead, but despite extending his hitting streak to 18 games, he fell seven points back of Carew—.334 to .327.
Minnesota (3-4) Manager Gene Mauch was hospitalized for three games with an infected right foot, but he missed only one of the Twins' victories—a 10-2 wipeout of Seattle (3-5). The Mariners' .364 percentage is the worst in the major leagues.
Age made no difference in Chicago (2-5). Wilbur Wood, 36, and Britt Burns, 19, both lost 7-3, Wood to Toronto, Burns to Detroit.
KC 63-50 CAL 65-54 OAK 61-58 TEX 55-57 MINN 49-65 CHI 47-67 SEA 43-75
It was an unsettling week for Philadelphia (6-3) both on the field and in the clubhouse. Following a doubleheader loss to last-place St. Louis, Manager Danny Ozark held a closed-door team meeting and threatened his players with fines if they continued to commit bonehead plays and failed to hustle. In his six years as a major league manager, Ozark had never before issued such an ultimatum. Reacting to Ozark's threats, the Phillies won four in a row and gained 2½ games on second-place Chicago (3-4). While things were looking up on the field, back in the clubhouse Larry Bowa allegedly hit a writer who had written a story critical of the shortstop. After the incident, Bowa went 8 for 16, including three doubles and a triple, had four RBIs, and scored five runs.
The bumbling Pirates (1-7) lost five games to the Phillies and dropped from third to fourth place, 11½ games behind Philadelphia. Following a 3-1 loss to the Phillies' Dick Ruthven, Pittsburgh pitchers yielded 29 hits and 25 runs while losing to Philadelphia by scores of 15-4 and 10-1. Willie Stargell, who batted .318 and had seven RBIs, also struck out six times to break Mickey Mantle's major league career strikeout record of 1,710. With 63 strikeouts so far this season, Stargell, a 17-year veteran, has a good chance of adding to his own major league record for 100-plus strikeout years. He's going for No. 13.
The second-place Cubs were still not hitting, and one pitcher in particular is paying the price. Dennis Lamp (5-12) started twice and lost twice to Montreal even though he allowed only three runs, losing 2-1 and 1-0. Lamp, a 25-year-old rookie, has been on the wrong end of a shutout five times this season. Of the season-long starters, only Rick Reuschel (10-10) is pitching .500 for Chicago.
In Montreal (4-2), five Expo starters held opponents to one run or less, logging a combined ERA of 1.40. Steve Rogers (13-7), who leads the league with a 2.35 ERA, beat the Cubs 2-1 as the Expos slipped into third place ahead of the Pirates. The Expos also set some individual records: Ross Grimsley (14-8) became the first Montreal lefthander ever to win 14 games, with a 1-0 shutout of Chicago; Andre Dawson became the first Expo to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season; and Ellis Valentine tied a club fielding record with his 20th assist.
New York (1-4) Manager Joe Torre was looking for pitchers. Nino Espinosa was sick, Pat Zachry was on the disabled list, and everyone else was throwing marshmallows. When Torre saw Warren Spahn in Coopers-town, he told the 57-year-old lefthander, "Stay in shape, I may need you." St. Louis (6-1) beat the Mets three times—including a one-hitter by John Denny and Roy Thomas—and took three of four from Philadelphia.
PHIL 63-50 CHI 58-56 MONT 56-61 PITT 51-61 NY 48-68 ST.L 47-69
The Dodgers, Giants and Reds all had the division lead at one time or another. Los Angeles (6-1) took over first place on Friday by beating San Francisco 4-3 for its seventh straight win as Giant reliever Randy Moffitt walked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The Los Angeles pitching staff, which now leads the league with a 3.14 ERA, had four complete games in seven starts: Burt Hooton (12-8) four-hit the Giants 5-1; Tommy John (13-9) held the Padres to six hits and won 3-1; Don Sutton (12-9) also allowed six hits in beating San Diego 3-2; and Doug Rau (11-7) shut out the Padres 3-0, allowing them only one hit after the third inning. Bob Welch (4-0), a 21-year-old rookie who launched the Dodgers' winning streak by stopping their six-game losing skid, defeated 16-game winner Vida Blue and the Giants 12-2, giving up only five hits in eight innings and lowering his ERA to 1.80. The Dodger hitters were equally impressive, contributing 10 home runs. Reggie Smith hit three, giving him 23 for the year, and batted .375 with nine RBIs.
After relinquishing the division lead for the first time in more than two months, San Francisco (2-4) climbed back into a tie for first with the Dodgers by beating them 3-2. Bill Madlock's 12th home run broke a 2-2 tie, and Bob Knepper (12-9) pitched his 12th complete game. Blue's 12-2 setback two nights earlier was his first loss since June 5, ending his 10-game winning streak.
Cincinnati (3-4) was briefly in first place early in the week after beating San Diego 3-1, as Doug Bair got his 21st save. The Reds' bullpen now has 37 saves and a 24-12 record. However, ace starter Tom Seaver lost twice and his record dropped to 11-11. In a 5-3 loss to Atlanta, Seaver "did everything wrong that I could possibly do," and the Reds fell out of first after a one-day stay. When he lost to San Diego 4-2, Seaver found something else to do wrong—commit two errors. Seaver is now 3-7 since his no-hitter on June 16.
For San Diego (2-5), the pitching held up but the hitting went sour. Before beating Cincinnati 15-3, Padre pitchers had given up only 12 runs in four games, but lost all four nonetheless. On Saturday, Gaylord Perry (13-5), with relief help from Bob Shirley and Rollie Fingers (27th save), got a little help from the Padre batters as he beat the Reds 4-2.
Pitching saved Atlanta (4-2). Rookie Larry McWilliams, 5-0 since the All-Star break, beat Houston (2-3) twice, and Gene Garber, who came over from Philadelphia in exchange for Dick Ruthven on June 20, recorded his 17th, 18th and 19th saves of the year. In 6½ weeks Garber has saved more games (16) than any Atlanta reliever in five years.
SF 68-49 LA 68-49 CIN 67-49 SD 59-58 ATL 54-61 HOUS 53-61
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
AL COWENS: The Royals' rightfielder hit .414 and drove in 11 runs, four of them with his first career grand slam. Since returning to the lineup on July 25 after missing a month with a knee injury, Cowens has batted .369.