Despite Pittsburgh's 6-0 week, Philadelphia (5-1) remained in front. For one thing, the Phillies' bats were back. Greg Luzinski went 12 for 27, Jerry Martin 7 for 19, Garry Maddox 6 for 18 and Bake McBride 7 for 19. In fact. Manager Danny Ozark was hard-pressed to give each of the four outfielders enough playing time. Said Martin of Ozark's attempts to shuffle his outfielders, "It's like those Godawful equations in college algebra." Then there were the inevitable Phillie phlourishes. Jim Kaat got his 260th career win with help—of a sort—from Reliever Ron Reed. Ozark brought in Reed with two men on to get the final two outs. Dave Winfield promptly clouted a Reed pitch 420 feet to dead center, where Martin caught the ball with his back to the wall. "Great managing," said Ozark. And Catcher Barry Foote, hitting .196, homered to beat the Giants 4-3. "Please," said Ozark, "don't ever ask me to explain the game of baseball."
Montreal lost five of eight and two starting pitchers. Both Steve Rogers (13-10) and Hal Dues (5-6) need elbow surgery. The week wasn't a total loss because the Expos executed a hit-and-run with a man on third. With Chris Speier charging in, Dave Cash swung at a 2 and 1 pitch. He rifled it past Giant Third Baseman Darrell Evans and the run scored.
Chicago, New York and St. Louis, each 2-4, also had bright spots. The Cubs scored in every inning to beat Houston 14-11, as Bill Buckner had three hits and four RBIs. Lee Mazzilli's four hits helped the Mets beat San Francisco 10-4. And Bob Forsch of the Cardinals ended a nine-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Houston. Thanks to some timely advice from his brother Ken, a pitcher for the Astros. Forsch avoided breaking the Cardinal record for consecutive losses. Bob Forsch said, "I taught Ken some things about throwing the curveball a few years ago, and we went out for dinner. He gave me a refresher course."
September 10, 1978
PHIL 72-60 PITT 69-64 CHI 67-66 MONT 63-73 ST.L 58-77 NY 54-81
It was an unprecedented week in Cincinnati (3-3): Pete Rose was benched. Sparky Anderson was criticized by one of his players and a game at Riverfront Stadium was rained out. In typical double-speak, Anderson referred to Rose's benching as a "rest." In fact. Rose was set down for two games after going 6 for 42. And as the Reds fell seven games out of first, Anderson was put down by Johnny Bench, who told the Dayton Daily News that the skipper was "intimidated...withdrawn from it all...too low-key...too nice, perhaps in awe of us. It's time many of us got a good chewing." And the Reds, who ordinarily hold down their fans for hours waiting for the artificial turf to dry instead of calling home games, finally relented after rain delays totaling three hours and 31 minutes and canceled a game with Pittsburgh. It was the first loss of a date in Riverfront Stadium's eight-year history.
His recent skirmishes with Don Sutton aside, Steve Garvey is still king in Los Angeles (5-2). Garvey singled home the winning run against Montreal, scored it against New York, hit a sacrifice fly to beat the Mets and was given two standing ovations by a routine crowd of 49,818 at Dodger Stadium. San Francisco lost ground to the Dodgers by dividing two-game series with Montreal, New York and Philadelphia. Vida Blue failed for the fifth time to win his 17th game, but the Giants went ahead and signed him to a six-year contract anyway.
San Diego (2-5) relinquished any claim to a shot at the divisional title by ending a 3-7 home stand, its worst of the year. Manager Roger Craig fined Jerry Turner for getting picked off first and Oscar Gamble for suiting up late. The good news was home attendance—a record 1,459,848 after 68 dates—and Dave Winfield's avoiding his annual late-season swoon by going 11 for 27 with five RBIs.
Houston (2-3) was bitter and Atlanta (3-4) was dazed. After his teammates made two errors on one play. Astro Pitcher Mark Lemongello flipped his glove in the air, tripped going into the dugout, bruising a leg, and limped back and forth waving his arms in disgust. He cooled off when the Astros took him off the hook by scoring seven ninth-inning runs to beat the Cubs 8-5. When the Braves lost their seventh straight, 14-3 to St. Louis, long-suffering Pitcher Phil Niekro—15 seasons with the club—said, "Year after year I keep thinking things are going to break for us. But when I walk back from the dugout to the clubhouse after a game, I still see the same look on the ballplayers' faces. Everyone's in a daze, looking for the same answer. I know that we are not a last-place team."
LA 81-55 SF 78-57 CIN 74-61 SD 70-67 HOUS 63-71 ATL 59-76
Two kids fresh off the farm helped give Baltimore a 7-2 week. Sammy Stewart, 23, set a major league record for a pitcher making his first big league start by fanning seven White Sox in a row in a 9-3 win. The Orioles promptly took Jim Palmer's name off his locker and posted it above Stewart's cubicle. "Just a locker-room joke," explained Stewart. Then Dave Ford, 21, beat Chicago 1-0 with relief help from Tippy Martinez.
Nonetheless, Manager Earl Weaver wasn't thinking pennant. Instead he suggested that New York's four-week-old newspaper strike was helping the Yankees' chances. "Probably the same words are being said and the same things are being done," Weaver said, "but people aren't reading about it, and the Yankees aren't either." Indeed, they looked star-touched. Ron Guidry won his 19th game, even though Ken Singleton's bat slipped out of his hands and struck Guidry on the ankle. The X rays were negative. And Paul Blair's 19th hit of the season, a 400-foot single, gave him his 13th RBI; it beat the Angels 4-3 in 11 innings.
Boston (4-3) fans and writers, often indistinguishable, were panicking. "I'm worried," wrote Leigh Montville in The Boston Globe. The Red Sox did have injuries—Dwight Evans was beaned and Bill Campbell, Mike Torrez, Carl Yastrzemski and Jerry Remy had sore arms—but the worrying seemed premature. Butch Hobson, nursing five injuries, was the hero of two games, and George Scott came out of a protracted slump to hit a grand slam in another.
The Red Sox had another reason to celebrate. Dennis Eckersley had won his 16th game and ninth straight at Fenway the same day runner Dave McGillivray arrived in the Boston area after a 3,452-mile transcontinental run. Proceeds from both the game and the run went to the Jimmy Fund for children's cancer research.
It was party time in Detroit (3-3), where the 1968 World Series champions had a reunion. Pitcher John Hiller, one of the four remaining active players from that team, got little sleep but pitched 2⅖ innings of relief the day after the reunion to save a 4-2 win over the Brewers. Of the old champions, Hiller said, "Five or six of the guys will probably try out for pitcher now that they've seen what I get away with." Other causes for celebration were Jack Billingham's 15th win and a $110,000 contract for 1979, and Ron LeFlore's hitting streak, which reached 23 games. It was easy to overlook the Tigers' fall to fifth.
Toronto's (2-5) Bob Bailor struck out for only the 18th time in 545 at-bats to lead the league in that category. For Milwaukee (4-3), pitching was everything; the staff gave up just seven runs in the wins and 21 in the defeats. The Brewers set a team record, with their 77th victory. Cleveland (2-4) was shut out three times in a row.
BOS 84-50 NY 78-55 MIL 77-58 BALT 76-60 DET 74-60 CLEV 58-76 TOR 55-82
Disabled since July 30 with a hairline fracture of his left wrist, Ron Jackson of California (2-3) returned in style. He socked a two-run homer to tie Toronto 3-3 and then knotted the game again at 4-4 with a two-out single in the eighth, before the Angels finally won 6-4. California thereby moved to within one game of Kansas City, and Jackson crowed, "Papa Jack is back."
The Royals (4-2) were desperate. Manager Whitey Herzog added sore-armed Steve Busby to the staff, admitting, "We're shooting dice with him." Centerfielder Amos Otis gambled on Kurt Bevacqua of the Rangers. After diving and trapping Bevacqua's single, Otis lay on the ground and lured Bevacqua into trying for second. Whereupon Otis sprang to his feet and threw him out. "We deked Dirty Kurt," said Otis. Herzog also pulled off a neat trick by berating his players for not stealing more. Hal McRae, Al Cowens and Otis responded by swiping a base apiece off Texas' Jim Sundberg, the league's best defensive catcher.
Undaunted, Texas (2-3) Manager Billy Hunter claimed, "Kansas City is worried about us. We're the team they fear." Showing nothing but mouth, the Rangers lost their seventh game in 11 meetings with lowly Toronto.
It was an equally tough week for Enrique Romo of Seattle (1-4). He blew chances to get his 11th save and 11th win, thanks in part to errors by First Baseman Danny Meyer. Then Romo was welcomed to New York by several toughs, who punched him and sprayed him with Mace.
The A's (2-3) were battling among themselves, just as the Oakland clubs of yore did. Manager Jack McKeon addressed the team and spoke of a growing cancer on the club. Feeling McKeon's words were meant for him, Pitcher Bob Lacey accused the manager of keeping him in a game when he was plainly off form. "Jack left me in to get roasted," Lacey claimed. "He's got a personal thing against me because of all the things I've said against him." Several players said Reliever Elias Sosa was protecting his tired arm in order to preserve his statistics (8-2, 2.60 ERA) for free-agent bargaining. Sosa himself said he had been waiting at the phone all week hoping owner Charlie Finley would sell him to a contender. "I am going on the free-agent market," he admitted. In addition to bickering, the A's showed traces of their old championship form, beating Boston twice at Fenway.
The White Sox (2-6) couldn't win for winning. Owner Bill Veeck pitched Chicago suburbanite Ross Baumgarten on a Sunday to beef up attendance. Baumgarten shut out Cleveland 6-0—but only 13,008 fans watched him. Minnesota won three of five, with part-time players Glenn Adams, who had a homer and a key single, and Rich Chiles, who clouted a home run, getting the big hits in the victories.
KC 72-61 CAL 72-63 TEX 66-66 OAK 64-72 MINN 59-76 CHI 56-79 SEA 50-83
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DARRELL PORTER: The Kansas City catcher was 9 for 21, with four homers, seven runs and nine runs batted in. In a 12-0 victory over the White Sox, Porter went 4 for 4, homered, scored twice and drove in four runs.