Even when they messed up, the Twins (6-1) could do no wrong. Heading for second base after homering against Detroit, Glenn Adams suddenly turned toward the dugout. He had lost the ball in the terrible lighting of Metropolitan Stadium and assumed Tiger Centerfielder Ron LeFlore had made the catch. Fortunately, eagle-eyed First-Base Coach Karl Kuehl saw the ball clear the fence and stopped Adams before he left the base path. Adams then completed his tour of the bases. The homer beat Detroit 7-6.
The Mariners (1-5) also needed better vision. After benching Tom Paciorek against Boston Pitcher Dennis Eckersley, Seattle Manager Darrell Johnson explained, "I had a vision when I went to sleep last night. I saw Paciorek batting against Eckersley, and I didn't like what I saw." He couldn't have liked what he saw in the waking world, either—as Paciorek's replacement, John Hale, struck out three times.
Oakland (3-3) had pleasanter dreams. The A's played like contenders in beating Boston and New York in three of five games. In one of those victories, a 7-5 triumph over the Yankees, Reliever Bob Lacey indulged in a little wish fulfillment by spiking the ball after getting the last out. "I've dreamed about catching a long pass from Kenny Stabler," said Lacey, "and spiking the ball on the Coliseum's natural turf. I've even dreamed of Curt Gowdy sitting in the booth describing the action."
Several Angels (2-3) had heavenly weeks. Don Baylor beat New York 2-1 with a bases-loaded single to finish April with a league-record 28 runs batted in. Nolan Ryan outdueled New York's Ron Guidry 1-0. The game's only run was provided by players who each started the evening with a .000 average. Catcher Terry Humphrey, who had been to bat only once before, singled in the third inning, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Second Baseman Jim Anderson, who had been 0 for 1 as well.
Texas (4-3) traded unhappy Shortstop Bert Campaneris to California for Infielder Dave Chalk, but that didn't eliminate all the Rangers' headaches. Though the Rangers took two of three from Kansas City (3-3), Ferguson Jenkins was riled about being removed from a game with a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning. Texas eventually beat the Royals 8-7. And neither Texas nor Chicago (2-3) was pleased about playing a game in cold Comiskey Park. "The umpires' supervisor [Dick Butler] was here, sitting up in the press box," said Texas Manager Pat Corrales, "and he told the umpires not to call it off." That was just one of many complaints about the substitute umps. The Kansas City players and coaches sent letters to several baseball executives, urging them to settle the regular umpires' job action. "It is ridiculous to go out every day under these circumstances," they wrote.
The Royals got all the relief they could ask for on the field—6⅖ innings from rejuvenated Steve Busby, who allowed just three hits and two unearned runs; and 5⅖ scoreless innings from Al Hrabosky, who won one game and saved another. The good news in Texas was 1⅖ innings of painless, if poor—five hits, six runs—pitching by Jon Matlack, who is coming off elbow surgery. And Eric Soder-holm of the White Sox, volunteering to bat cleanup, helped win a game 7-6 over Texas with four RBIs.
MINN 17-8 CAL 16-10 TEX 14-10 KC 14-11 CHI 11-13 OAK 10-16 SEA 8-19
While New York (2-4) sputtered, Baltimore (5-0) streaked. All the Orioles lacked was a decent wordsmith. When Doug DeCinces was placed on the 21-day disabled list and Jim Palmer left a game in the first inning, both with back ailments, the word went around that the Orioles would have to "back" into a division title. Maybe not, since Palmer recovered to knock off California 9-1 with ninth-inning relief help from Tim Stoddard. And after Ken Singleton hit his seventh and eighth homers, someone suggested that he change his name to—heh, heh—Homerton. The Orioles have averaged 11.8 hits over their last 11 games, and Rich Dauer was .538 for the week, with eight runs and four RBIs; Lee May clubbed his 10th grand slam, most among active American Leaguers; and Stoddard struck out seven Mariners in a 2‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬®-inning relief appearance.
Bobby Bonds of the Indians (2-4) became the second major-leaguer to hit 300 home runs and steal 300 bases when he homered in a 6-1 loss to Milwaukee. (Willie Mays was the first.) With his 300 homers Bonds has 413 steals. Mays finished up with 660 home runs and 338 stolen bases.
Milwaukee (5-3) placed Infielder Don Money on the 21-day disabled list with a pulled hamstring muscle, but the Brewers more than balanced out the loss of his strong bat with tight pitching. The Brewers, whose staff leads the league with a 3.18 ERA, finished the week with a club-record six straight complete games. The most satisfying was recuperating Moose Haas' 6-1 win over Cleveland, his first victory since April 12, 1978. Gorman Thomas (four homers and 10 RBIs) and Ben Oglivie (four homers and seven RBIs) paced the hitters.
Detroit (2-3) Pitcher Mark Fidrych, sidelined most of the last two seasons with tendinitis in his pitching arm, made his 1979 debut, threw 50 pitches and left after four innings with a 6-2 lead over Minnesota. Fidrych couldn't get his breaking pitches down but threw without pain. Designated Hitter Rusty Staub ended a holdout by going 6 for 11 with five doubles. He, too, was feeling no pain. "Spring training's for pitchers and rookies," he said.
Boston (4-2) opened a 17-game home stand with an opportunity to widen its division lead, and blasted Seattle 5-3 and 11-4 as Fred Lynn, the league home-run leader, got his 10th of the season and George Scott and Dwight Evans broke out of slumps. The pitching was equally sharp, particularly during free-agent signee Steve Renko's first two wins for Boston and Dick Drago's third victory and third save.
Toronto (2-6) pitchers have walked 117 batters in 27 games. At this rate, they will walk 1,002 in 1979, easily surpassing the major league record of 812 set by the 1949 Yankees. The most embarrassing passes of the week were issued by Tom Underwood, who walked two men with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and turned a 4-3 lead over Milwaukee into a 5-4 loss. The Blue Jays resurrected ex-Pirate Bob Robertson, a batting hero of the 1971 World Series, who had averaged just 133 at bats the last five seasons. Robertson promptly homered, to give Toronto a 5-3 victory over the Brewers.
BOS 16-8 BALT 17-9 MIL 16-11 NY 12-13 DET 9-11 CLEV 7-17 TOR 8-19
As San Francisco (4-2) ended April with an eight-game losing streak, Outfielder Bill North created a slogan: "Hooray, hooray, it's the first of May." Bob Knepper celebrated May Day by throwing a five-hit, 7-0 shutout at Philadelphia, and his teammates followed with 7-5, 4-3 and 6-4 wins over New York. The Giants, particularly two of their leading pitchers, Vida Blue and Knepper, were finally performing up to their reputations. Said Blue, "I've been using my fastball to set up my curve, which is the opposite of the way it should be." Said Knepper, "We decided, by God, let's go after 'em. So I threw 100 fast-balls out of 118 pitches." May fever spread through the club, gripping light hitters Johnny LeMaster, who homered, and Roger Metzger, who tripled.
On May Day the Padres (3-3) wanted nothing more than to settle down. They had played 16 of their first 23 games on the road, and almost everything had gone wrong. Even the guy inside their mascot, the fabled KGB Chicken, had been canned over a contract dispute. But Gaylord Perry sent the Padres home on a happy note, beating New York 10-5 for his 270th major league victory. On the same day, Atlanta (1-4) Pitcher Phil Niekro beat Pittsburgh 5-2 for his 200th. That may have left Niekro's kid brother feeling like just another guy named Joe. Nonetheless, Houston's Joe Niekro set down St. Louis 4-1 on only 89 pitches. The win kept the division-leading Astros (2-5) 3½ games ahead of Cincinnati. Then the Reds took two straight, edging Houston 6-5 on George Foster's 10th-inning single and 6-2 on two RBIs apiece by Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan. If their lead was shrinking, at least the Astros were comporting themselves in the manner of modern champions. Making Yankee-style headlines. Outfielder Cesar Cedeno and Pitcher Joaquin Andujar had a shoving match. Manager Bill Virdon, late of New York, didn't fine them.
Los Angeles (2-5) Manager Tom Lasorda was fighting panic. Juggling his pitching staff, he made a starter out of Rick Sutcliffe and returned Bob Welch to the bullpen. Sutcliffe, 22, beat the Phillies 5-2, and the clubhouse mood changed perceptibly. "This is the high point of my career," said Sutcliffe, "no doubt about it. It'll probably hit me when I wake up tomorrow, and I'll spend about $10 buying every newspaper I can. That should fill my scrapbook."
HOUS 16-10 CIN 14-11 SF 13-14 SD 12-15 LA 11-17 ATL 8-16
It was every kid's dream. Called up from the minors to replace Manny Trillo, who had suffered a broken left forearm, journeyman Second Baseman Ramon Aviles delivered a two-run ninth-inning single to help Philadelphia (4-2) beat Los Angeles 5-2. As the Phillies took two of three from L.A., Shortstop Larry Bowa heated up the rivalry by claiming that Dodger Pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who had broken Trillo's forearm with a pitch, had deliberately thrown at him.
There was drama all over the division. Chicago (4-1) was down to its last out and trailed Atlanta 5-0. The Braves' ace reliever, Gene Garber, was pitching. Then Tim Blackwell stroked a two-run single, Larry Biittner singled in another run and Bobby Murcer won the game 6-5 with a three-run homer.
In St. Louis, Cardinal fans began leaving the park when Houston rallied for three 11 thinning scores to lead 6-3. The departees missed seeing Cardinal pinch hitter Roger Freed hit a grand slam that sent everyone else home happy. Said the popular Freed, "This is the biggest, most pleasant experience anyone can have in the game." No less heartwarming were three three-hit games by 39-year-old Lou Brock, who increased his career hit total to 2,923. Mostly, though, the Cardinals (3-4) seemed to have stage fright. They couldn't sacrifice, score men from third or even think. With his team trailing Pittsburgh 6-5 in the ninth, Manager Ken Boyer allowed Pitcher Tom Bruno to hit for himself. Bruno fouled out, and the Cards folded. Boyer's explanation—that he was flat out of pitchers—ignored the presence of well-rested John Denny. Boyer and Trainer Gene Gieselmann said Denny's cold prevented him from pitching. Denny disagreed. Not even the much-heralded Busch Basch—a promotion complete with helium-filled balloons, NASCAR drivers racing in dune buggies and disco contests—fully satisfied the 50,983 fans who showed up. It rained, and the Cardinals lost 6-5 to Houston.
It was a routine week for New York (2-5), which used 25 pitchers in seven games, but there were surprises aplenty in Montreal (4-2) and Pittsburgh (3-2). A preseason dark horse, the Expos remained in first. Warren Cromartie extended his hitting streak to a team-record 19 games before he was stopped by the Padres; Ellis Valentine returned from a four-game suspension and homered to help beat the Giants 7-5; and Gary Carter, with four homers and 12 RBIs, ran his hitting string to 10 games. Until the Padres' Randy Jones and Rollie Fingers set them down 10-2, the Expos had built up a seven-game winning streak. They are 7-0 against lefthanded starters and 11-1 at home. Pittsburgh, which was supposed to be a strong contender, had its first winning week, but starting pitchers Bert Blyleven (0-2) and Don Robinson (2-2) and Reliever Kent Tekulve (1-4 and no saves) continued their slumps. In a reminder of better days, Bruce Kison, a long-relief hero in the 1971 World Series, was called on in the first inning and threw 7‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® strong innings to beat Houston 10-5.
MONT 16-7 PHIL 16-7 CHI 11-10 ST. L 12-12 PITT 9-13 NY 8-14
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JIM SLATON: The Milwaukee righthander threw two complete-game victories—beating Cleveland 8-0 on two hits and Toronto 6-1 on eight—to lower his earned run average to 1.66, best among the league's starters.