The Boston (2-1) catching situation grew critical. Kept from playing defense because of an elbow ailment, Carlton Fisk decided to try pinch hitting. "The first swing, I felt like someone had shot me," he said after striking out. He was put on the 15-day disabled list. With Bob Montgomery and Mike O'Berry also injured. Manager Don Zimmer was forced to use rookie Gary Allenson, whose throwing he had belittled during spring training. "When I put him in during the 11th inning, I was praying Dick Drago wouldn't walk anybody," Zimmer said early in the week, "if someone had gotten on, he would've tried to steal." But when Zimmer used Allenson for eight innings of a 12-10 win over Milwaukee, Allenson allowed only one stolen base. "He'll be all right," Zimmer backtracked. Meanwhile the Sox won two games by unexpected means: Jim Dwyer's bases-loaded single, the first pinch RBI by a Sox since 1977, clinched the 12-10 game; and in a one-out, bases-loaded situation against Cleveland, Zimmer, in an unorthodox maneuver, had everyone running when Jack Brohamer grounded to second. With no chance for a double play, the Indians had to make the play to first and let the winning run score.
Milwaukee won three of five as George Bamberger agreed to manage through the 1980 season. Mike Caldwell shut out Boston 3-0 before 54,392 fans on a 38° opening day. and nine Brewers combined for 12 homers during the week. After a Milwaukee club-record six home runs helped edge Baltimore 11-10, Oriole (1-5) Manager Earl Weaver said, "They can hit, that's all there is to it."
Toronto (4-1) was in surprisingly good form. Catcher Rick Cerone already has two-thirds of his 1978 homer total of three, and slugger John Mayberry has no homers, but a .458 batting average. New York went 4-2 as Tommy John beat Milwaukee 2-1 in his American League debut and then shut out Baltimore 5-0 by inducing 18 ground-ball outs.
April 23, 1979
The Indians had no home runs, no complete games and no wins in four tries, but there was plenty of talk about the possible dismissal of Manager Jeff Torborg. Relievers took all of the losses for Detroit (1-3).
MIL 5-2 BOS 3-2 TOR 4-3 NY 4-4 BALT 3-5 DET 1-4 CLEV 1-5
At first the A's (1-6) played as if they were dizzy. They lost three of four to lowly Seattle (3-4), committing 13 errors, two passed balls and one wild pitch. Then, it developed, two of the A's were dizzy: Mickey Klutts and Mario Guerrero, who were knocked silly when they were hit on the head by batted balls they should have caught. The Mariners, who blew two rundown plays, looked a bit dizzy themselves.
Minnesota's Jerry Koosman was shell-shocked—not by the opposition but by the Twins (4-2), who supported the former Met with 11 hits in his American League debut, an 8-1 victory over the Angels. Averaging nearly eight runs a game, California won its five other outings. Bobby Grich homered three times, Don Baylor ran his hitting streak to seven games, and Carney Lansford batted .429 to help Nolan Ryan, Chris Knapp and Don Aase to complete-game victories. Even better was Texas (5-0), which remained baseball's only unbeaten team, despite the unavailability of ace Jon Matlack, who was placed on the disabled list. Al Oliver homered twice into a 38-mph wind, and Reliever Sparky Lyle allowed no hits in his first four appearances.
The White Sox (2-3) were whipped 10-2 by Toronto in their home opener, prompting embarrassed owner Bill Veeck to offer all 41,073 fans free admission to the next game. Only 2,220 of them returned to watch the Sox lose again, 9-7. Kansas City dropped three of five, despite Fred Patek's second 4-for-4 game of the season.
TEX 6-0 MINN 6-2 CAL 6-3 KC 4-3 SEA 5-5 CHI 2-5 OAK 1-8
It must have been rain-drops falling from the Phillies' eyes. Philadelphia had taken a 3-2 lead in the top half of the sixth inning at St. Louis when the game was stopped because of rain. A rule passed at last December's owners' meetings would have had the game continued from that point on a later date. But because the owners had not bothered to inform the players about the change until Feb. 5 and because Marvin Miller, the head of the Players Association, had not polled all the teams to get the required players' approval of the new rule, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn determined that the old rainout regulations applied. Thus, the game reverted back to the end of the fifth, when the score was tied 2-2, and will have to be replayed in its entirety on June 29. The new rule will go into effect next year, said Kuhn, again neglecting to consult the players.
Noting that there had been 10 postponements and one shortened game in the first 11 days of the season, the Phillies led the cries for a schedule change. "Either send all the teams from the East out West for the first month of the season, or start the season two weeks later and end it two weeks earlier," said Pete Rose. "Dome it," said Manager Danny Ozark, referring to Philly's Veterans Stadium. Using his own dome, Ozark moved Rose from first to third in the batting order. Rose responded with two doubles and a single as the Phils beat Pittsburgh 7-3.
In another game the Pirates twice walked new fourth-place hitter Greg Luzinski to get at Mike Schmidt. Each time, Schmidt drove in a run. He ended the day with a homer that beat the Pirates 5-4. With three postponements and an off day, the Phillies played only three times—and won twice.
The Pirates were able to celebrate a little during a 3-3 week as Willie Stargell passed Honus Wagner and set a club record with his 870th extra-base hit. Unfortunately, Stargell then injured his hip and was sidelined.
Montreal's starters—led by Ross Grimsley, who whipped Chicago 2-0—had a 1.80 ERA for the week. The Expo (4-1) bullpen—led by Elias Sosa, who had a win and a save—had a 1.38 ERA. Leading a strong attack was Andre Dawson, who hit .400.
Diverting attention from his team's two rainouts, three off days and two shutout losses, Chicago Manager Herman Franks displayed a marked-up ball Grimsley had used. "It's a different ball than Don Sutton uses," said Franks. "Sutton makes a cut right across Chub Feeney's name. You can't cut a ball like this with your fingernail. It looks more like sandpaper." Answered Montreal skipper Dick Williams, "You call that ball Bruce Sutter uses a forkball?"
After New York's opener was rained out, the rescheduled inaugural attracted just 10,406 fans, who saw the Mets (1-2) lose 3-2 in 14 innings to Montreal when Kelvin Chapman missed a suicide-squeeze-bunt attempt.
Because of a St. Louis (3-3) protest, Pirate Dave Parker has abandoned his face mask lest it injure somebody. And Lou Brock announced that he will abandon the Cardinals, retiring at the end of the season. With 2,904 hits to date, he is expected to fall short of 3,000 for his career. The 39-year-old Brock was philosophical about that, but the same could not be said of his juvenile teammates. Disturbed because their plane from St. Louis to Pittsburgh was late, they ripped out phones, broke several chairs and a glass door and destroyed a sign at the airport.
MONT 5-1 NY 3-2 PITT 4-4 ST.L 3-3 PHIL 2-3 CHI 0-4
Houston's (3-3) J. R. Richard set a major league record of 13 wild pitches and walked four, but he also struck out 13 while beating the Dodgers 2-1. After his extraordinary 156-pitch performance, Richard said, "I told the team doctor he should make a lot of money after a game like this. Everyone who saw me pitch probably developed an ulcer."
No less extraordinary was Dodger Shortstop Bill Russell, who caught a pop-up, collided with Centerfielder Derrel Thomas and still had the presence of mind to get up and hold a runner at second. "An automatic reaction," said Russell of the play that helped the Dodgers (3-4) beat the Astros 2-1. Newly acquired Jerry Reuss threw four strong innings and rookie Rick Sutcliffe pitched five, as the battered Los Angeles bullpen provided unexpected relief.
When the Giants (4-2) opened their season on Candlestick Park's new natural turf, Vida Blue gave 56,196 fans a natural high by beating San Diego 4-2. Later Blue threw his third complete-game victory in three starts, defeating Houston 2-1. No wonder Giant fans were chanting, "Blue! Blue! Blue!" The Padres (2-4) were blue, blue, blue. Gene Richards and Ozzie Smith, their No. 1 and No. 2 hitters, failed to get a hit in the same inning for the first eight games of the season, prompting Dave Winfield, who batted .455, to remark sadly, "My average doesn't matter if we don't win."
For a change, all was quiet in Cincinnati (4-2)—except the Reds' bats. George Foster (.435, 10 RBIs) and Davey Concepcion (.438) clubbed grand slams, Dan Driessen hit .396 and Ken Griffey, batting in Pete Rose's old leadoff position, went 9 for 28 and started five games with hits.
After a 1-5 start, their worst since moving to Atlanta, the Braves (3-4) ripped L.A. 10-2 with a 14-hit attack, errorless fielding and a four-hitter by Larry McWilliams.
SF 7-2 HOUS 5-3 LA 5-5 CIN 4-5 ATL 3-6 SD 3-6
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOHN MILNER: Substituting for the injured Willie Stargell, the 29-year-old Pirate first baseman went 7 for 10, with two home runs and seven runs batted in, to spark three Pittsburgh wins. He is hitting .643 for the season.