George C. Scott, formerly of the Red Sox, has taken his act to Kansas City (4-3) and is performing with a virtuosity his cinema namesake would applaud. Since joining the Royals on June 13, Scott has had 15 hits in 39 at bats, and last week he augmented his robust batting by displaying some seldom-used talents. During a 13-4 drubbing of the Angels, Scott not only had four hits and drove in two runs but he also laid down a sacrifice bunt and stole a base. Scott did some more gamboling on the base paths during a 9-2 win over the A's, dashing from first to second after a fly ball to center and then zipping all the way home on a subsequent fly to left. All of which helped the Royals climb from fourth place to second.
Despite bumbling around, Texas (4-3) also gained on first-place California. The Rangers played like butchers in a 6-5 loss to the A's. Buddy Bell was tagged out after not touching home plate and Outfielder Johnny Grubb misplayed a line drive into an inside-the-park homer. Otherwise, hot hitting by Oscar Gamble (.682 and nine RBIs) and tight pitching perked up the Rangers. John Henry Johnson, a 22-year-old lefty picked up a week earlier from the A's, struck out 10 Angels in five innings before his left leg tightened. Jim Kern replaced Johnson and locked up the 2-1 win with his 10th save.
Injury-plagued California (2-5) owed both its victories to a pair of ailing players. Nolan Ryan, a doubtful starter almost until game time because of pain in the right calf muscle he had already pulled twice this season, came within five outs of a record fifth no-hitter before Gamble singled in the eighth. Ryan wound up with 10 strikeouts, his 15th career two-hitter and a 5-0 win. Brian Downing, moving from behind the plate to DH because of a sore shoulder, homered in a 5-4 squeaker over the Rangers. Over the last 16 games he has hit .441 and upped his average to .353. Downing, who entered the season with a six-year average of .246, attributes his sudden prowess to a protein powder he takes to "reduce fatigue" and to a backyard batting cage and pitching machine. "I usually take about 150 swings before I come to the park," he said of his at-home workouts. Another key performer in the wins over Texas was Shortstop Bert Campaneris, who was motivated by disparaging comments made about him by Ranger Executive Vice-President Eddie Robinson after Texas traded Campaneris to the Angels on May 4. Campaneris had four hits in seven at bats in the two games, and he tied a team record with three steals in one of them.
July 1, 1979
Visions of fifth place spurred on Seattle (5-2), which took three of four in Chicago and pulled within three games of the White Sox. For the first time since he was in the minors in 1977, the Mariners' Mike Parrott pitched a complete game, beating Chicago 5-1. Five days later Parrott again went the route to beat Milwaukee 8-3. Before the 24-year-old righthander moved into the rotation on May 15, Seattle was 10-26; since then Parrott has been 6-2 and the Mariners 21-16.
One night Manager Don Kessinger of Chicago (2-5) had difficulty assembling a lineup because so many players—seven, to be exact—were hurt. But Ken Kravec was healthy enough to sidetrack Boston 6-1.
Minnesota (2-4) ended a five-game losing streak with a 5-3 triumph in Chicago, where Ron Jackson drove in three runs. The Twins then beat the White Sox 6-1, getting seven sacrifices, one short of the major league record.
Oakland (3-4) did equal a big league record—for triple plays in one season—by pulling off its second and third. One came against the Royals when Third Baseman Wayne Gross gloved a grounder, tagged the oncoming runner and threw to second for a forceout. The runner coming from first, George Scott, prevented Second Baseman Mike Edwards from relaying to first base, but Umpire John Shulock ruled interference on the hard-sliding Scott, thus turning the DP into a TP. Another umpire's ruling, this one by Bill Kunkel, led to the A's other triple play, against Texas. Because Gross seemingly trapped a pop bunt, two Ranger runners began speeding around the bases. Oops, they failed to see that Kunkel had ruled that Gross had caught the bunt on the fly. Meanwhile, in trying to double up the Texan who had too hastily left second base, Gross heaved the ball into centerfield, where Tony Armas picked it up. Armas fired to Shortstop Dave Chalk to double the runner off second. Chalk then pegged the ball to Armas—that's right, the centerfielder covering first—for out No. 3. Score it 5-8-6-8. Oakland also hit 14 homers, three by Armas.
CAL 42-31 KC 38-33 TEX 37-33 MINN 34-32 CHI 32-37 SEA 31-42 OAK 22-50
It took some doing, but Baltimore (7-0) at long last persuaded hometown fans to come out to the park en masse. The Orioles enticed them with some dramatic wins on the road, overcoming a 4-1 deficit to beat the Twins 8-5, rallying past the Indians 8-7 and wiping out a 3-0 Cleveland lead with three homers to win 5-3. Then, to the delight of a welcome-home crowd of 35,456, the Birds erased a ninth-inning 5-3 Detroit lead and beat the Tigers 6-5 when Ken Singleton homered and Doug DeCinces added a two-out, two-run shot. An even larger gathering—45,814—saw Baltimore sweep a doubleheader from the Tigers the next day—8-6 on Eddie Murray's three-run homer in the ninth and 6-5 when John Lowenstein reached base on an error in the eighth inning, stole second and scored on Terry Crowley's pinch single. The Oriole bullpen gave up just two runs in 24⅖ innings. Tippy Martinez faced 19 men in relief, gave up only one walk and won twice. Coming out of the bullpen, Sammy Stewart had a win and a save, and Don Stanhouse and Tim Stoddard each had one victory.
Home runs and .433 hitting by Rick Burleson carried Boston (5-2). Six Red Sox homers buried Detroit 13-3, and Jim Rice's 15th helped Dennis Eckersley beat the Tigers 3-2. Four more shots, including two by Rice, were hit in a 12-1 romp over Toronto, which also succumbed 4-3 the next day when Bob Watson homered in the 11th.
Five consecutive wins helped third-place Milwaukee (5-1) to pull ahead of New York (4-3). Gorman Thomas led the Brewer assault with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Catcher Charlie Moore hit .545 to take over the major league batting lead at .370. And Paul Molitor's surprise bunt single, which came with a runner on third and two out in the seventh of a tie game, drove in the winning run as the Brewers trimmed the Twins 3-2.
Steve Kemp had 12 RBIs and Ron LeFlore batted .448 and stole six bases, but Detroit (2-6) fell to sixth place. Winless Cleveland (0-6) squandered leads in three games and wasted 10 RBIs by Bobby Bonds. Conversely, Toronto (3-4) rallied for all of its wins. Luis Gomez, playing third base for the injured Roy Howell, batted .414 and had six two-hit games.
BALT 47-22 BOS 43-25 MIL 40-31 NY 38-33 CLEV 32-36 DET 31-35 TOR 23-50
Montreal (5-1) Manager Dick Williams excused his players from batting practice on Father's Day. Among the grateful was Tony Perez, who said, "I got another hour of sleep and felt rested." Perez was rested enough to hit two of Montreal's five home runs that day during a 19-3 thrashing of Houston. The four dads in the Expo lineup went 9 for 13, scored nine runs and drove in seven. The Expos later beat Philadelphia for the eighth straight time this season as Steve Rogers silenced the Phillies 3-0 on one hit, a single by Dave Rader with two out in the eighth.
St. Louis (2-3) fell 4½ games behind Montreal but was encouraged by the debut of John Fulgham, who had a complete-game 7-2 win over the Padres. That ended a six-game losing streak for the Cardinals and gave them their first victory in San Diego in 14 games—or since June 17, 1976. Ted Simmons batted .476 and beat the Mets 4-2 with two homers and a double; since 1971, Simmons has hit .342 against New York.
Pittsburgh (4-1) concluded its most successful trip to California since 1974 with a 5-3 record and moved into third. Ed Whit-son and Kent Tekulve combined on a two-hitter to beat Los Angeles 5-1, and Phil Garner had five hits in a 9-4 win in San Francisco.
"The mood in this clubhouse is a lot worse than at the Carter-Brezhnev talks," said Pete Rose of Philadelphia (2-4), referring to the bickering among his teammates and the chair that flew around the locker room. General Manager Paul Owens tried to straighten things out with a 20-minute clubhouse speech. Owens expressed dissatisfaction with his lethargic players and insisted that Manager Danny Ozark wasn't to blame for the slump in which Philadelphia has lost 23 of 34 games since May 18. Then the Phillies began a vital series in Montreal by losing twice.
Mike Krukow and Reliever Bruce Sutter teamed up as Chicago (3-2) started the week with an 8-5 win over San Diego and later collaborated on a 4-3 victory in Pittsburgh. Sutter picked up a third save in between—he has 17—and Dave Kingman hit his 23rd, 24th and 25th home runs.
New York (0-4) twice lost by one run and twice by two runs. Even when the Mets didn't lose, they missed chances to win—first when a 1-1 game in Atlanta was suspended after eight innings, and later when rain washed out their fourth-inning 1-0 lead in St. Louis.
MONT 39-24 ST.L 34-28 PITT 34-29 PHIL 35-33 CHI 32-31 NY 25-37
In the age of the 'tater, Houston (5-1) remains an enigma. The Astros ping the ball rather than sting it—they're last in the majors with 28 homers, and their .252 batting average is ninth in the National League—but they nonetheless have opened a 5½-game lead, the biggest by any divisional leader in either league, over the second-place Reds. And Houston is finally luring large crowds to the Astrodome. As usual, the Astros made themselves at home in their Dome, winning all five of their games there by a total of six runs. Houston is 22-8 in one-run games and has a 16-1 record in such affairs in the Astrodome. The Astros opened last week's home stand with a three-game sweep of New York. Craig Reynolds won the first game 3-2 with a single in the 18th inning. Joaquin Andujar then muffled the Mets 3-1 on two hits, and the Astros took the finale 5-4 with the aid of an inside-the-park home run by Dennis Walling. Reliever Joe Sambito, who didn't allow a run in three outings, spanning 8⅖ innings, won that game and saved the next one, a 2-1 verdict over San Diego in which Joe Niekro became the first 11-game winner in the majors. Sambito has held the opposition scoreless in his last 17 appearances and has cut his ERA from 3.38 to 1.20. Walling, whose pinch hit in the seventh inning drove home the winning run in the 2-1 game, came through again the next night, singling home the tying run in the ninth and then scoring the winning run on Alan Ashby's pinch hit. A total of 72,385 fans watched the two wins over San Diego.
The only other teams in the West with winning records were the third-place Giants (3-2) and the last-place Braves (4-2). Keeping San Francisco rolling were Bill North, who batted .476 and stole four bases, and Bill Madlock, who apparently settled his differences with Manager Joe Altobelli. Madlock had been benched for three games after calling one of Altobelli's team meetings "a waste of time." A half-hour chat between Madlock and Altobelli cleared the air, and then Madlock went 4 for 8 during two wins over the Reds. Atlanta's Phil Niekro evened his record at 9-9 by beating Philadelphia 10-4 and Los Angeles 7-3, the seventh time in 10 tries the Braves have defeated the struggling (2-4) Dodgers (page 18).
For the Reds (1-5), the week was a bummer. Longtime favorite Joe Morgan was booed as he struggled through an 0-for-20 slump, and good-luck charm Mike LaCoss lost 3-2 in Montreal. Cincinnati had won all 13 of LaCoss' previous starts, and he had gotten credit for the victory in eight of them. Only a 3-2 win over the Expos by Bill Bonham, his first triumph in nearly five weeks, kept the Reds from being total losers.
Two players acquired on the June 15 trading deadline—former Indian Paul Dade and Jay Johnstone, late of the Yankees—buoyed lowly San Diego (2-4). Dade hit .417, and Johnstone, who made two dazzling catches in centerfield, batted .353. Gaylord Perry lowered his ERA to 2.51 and raised his record to 7-5 by beating St. Louis 3-1.
HOUS 43-29 CIN 36-33 SF 35-35 LA 32-40 SD 32-41 ATL 26-43
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GARY MATTHEWS: The Atlanta outfielder batted .478, scored 11 times, drove in 11 runs and had 11 hits, including five homers (he now has 16 for the year), four doubles and a triple. All of which helped raise his average to .316.