While Chicago (3-2) and Philadelphia (4-3) were having a rematch at Wrigley Field, Montreal (4-3) quietly surged to a 6½-game lead, mainly because it swept three of four games from struggling St. Louis (2-6). Two wins were noteworthy. One came like lightning when, on the second pitch of a 2-2 game suspended in the 11th inning last May, Warren Cromartie clubbed a home run. Pitcher Ross Grimsley clinched the other game, 5-3, by squibbling a two-run single off the end of his bat past Pitcher John Denny. For Grimsley, the hit was his sixth in his last 13 at bats and the victory his fourth straight, boosting his record to 8-4, best on the Expo staff. Right-fielder Ellis Valentine chose to sit out seven consecutive games because of soreness in his buttocks, an ailment for which teammates displayed minute sympathy. Quipped one, "Whatever he's got is contagious, because he's giving everyone a pain there."
St. Louis tumbled from second place to fifth, and things got doubly grim when it was learned that Ted Simmons, batting .321 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs, had broken a wrist-bone when hit by a foul tip and will miss six weeks. One bright note was Silvio Martinez who fanned seven batters, walked none and set down 21 Expos in a row in a 5-0 one-hitter. Martinez had a no-hitter until Duffy Dyer lined a pitch over the head of First Baseman Keith Hernandez and into rightfield with two out in the eighth. "I hit it where no one happened to be," Dyer said. "That's smart hitting."
A torrent of home runs and a nifty five-hit shutout win over Pittsburgh by Rick Reuschel helped catapult the Cubs into fourth place, half a game out of second. Pitcher Mike Krukow cracked his first big league homer to help rout the Phillies 11-4; streaking Dave Kingman rapped out home runs No. 26 and 27; and Mike Vail, platooning in rightfield now that Bobby Murcer has been traded to the Yankees, unloaded a grand slam against the Mets. But the swattingest Cubbie of all was Centerfielder Jerry Martin, who hit shots out of the park in four consecutive games.
July 8, 1979
The Pirates (3-5), whose spirits had been sent soaring by their first successful West Coast trip in five years, returned home—and lost three of four. Dave Parker had six hits in 30 at bats, Willie Stargell did little but nurse a bruised hip, and Ed Ott, who homered in a 12-9 loss to New York, had just one other hit in 15 trips to the plate. But Bill Robinson did smash three home runs—he now has 18—and two of them led to victories, 2-1 over New York and 6-5 over Montreal. Better yet, the Pirates shellacked San Francisco off the field, trading for Pitcher Dave Roberts and In-fielder Bill Madlock, the 28-year-old two-time batting champ whose career .325 average is unsurpassed in the league. The Giants received two minor-leaguers and Pitcher Ed Whitson, who was 3-2 and had a 4.34 ERA upon arrival and was promptly ripped for two runs and a loss in his San Francisco debut. "For our two guys," complained Third Baseman Darrell Evans, "they should've got a 20-game winner."
The Mets (5-2) flashed un-cellarlike brilliance as Pete Falcone defeated Pittsburgh 4-0 for his first complete game since May 1977 and Andy Hassler, acquired recently from Boston, got his first National League victory, 6-2 over the Cards. Even more luminous were John Stearns (11 hits in 31 at bats), Joel Youngblood (11 for 29) and Lee Mazzilli, who bashed out eight hits in 20 at bats to lift his average to .337. In beating the Cubs 9-8, New York exploded for six runs in the top of the 11th and then barely hung on as Chicago scored five. The 11-run 11th broke a 93-year-old league record.
MONT 43-27 PITT 37-34 PHIL 39-36 CHI 35-33 ST.L 36-34 NY 30-39
Escorted by two highway-patrol officers on motorcycles, an armored truck bearing a rather large Styrofoam egg rolled across rightfield at San Diego Stadium toward the infield. The convoy stopped, and half a dozen Padres gingerly lifted the egg and rolled it to third base. Suddenly the egg hatched, and out popped none other than Ted Giannoulas, formerly the KGB Chicken but this time attired in a somewhat different ornithological costume. Giannoulas, who lost his right to wear the chicken getup after a legal battle with his former employers at radio station KGB, was given a standing ovation by 47,022 fans. The players laid another egg that night, losing to Houston 4-1, but San Diego (3-5) still moved into fourth place ahead of the slumping Dodgers by taking two of three from Atlanta. John D'Acquisto made a grand entrance himself, relieving starter Eric Rasmussen in the second inning and going 7⅖ innings in a 6-5 win over the Braves. Phil Niekro's bases-loaded walk to Kurt Bevacqua in the bottom of the ninth had given the Padres a 2-1 victory the day before.
"These are the Braves?" asked Tommy Lasorda. "I thought they were the '27 Yankees." The Los Angeles manager had a point, considering that the Braves (5-3) beat the Dodgers (1-6) three times. Rick Matula defeated the National League champs twice, pitching his first complete game in a 4-2 win and later getting credit for a 5-2 victory. By the end of the week only one game separated last-place Atlanta from Los Angeles, which suffered through a four-night spell in which it scored only rive runs. The lone Dodger victory, 4-3 over San Diego, came on Joe Ferguson's two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Houston (6-2), the youngest team in the league, increased its division lead to 6½ games with the help of 36-year-old Player-Coach Jesus Alou. Batting only .053, Alou was sent in to pinch-hit in the eighth inning against the Reds with the score tied 5-5 and lined a game-winning double. Joaquin Andujar went the distance twice against the Padres, winning by identical 4-1 scores, and J. R. Richard and Randy Niemann also had complete-game victories.
The Reds (5-3) were buoyed by the hitting of George Foster, who had four homers and batted .367, and the pitching of Tom Seaver, who went 7⅖ innings in a 2-1 win over Houston and all the way in a two-hit victory over the Giants. "Seaver was painting out there," said San Francisco's Bill North. "A little Da Vinci. A little Michelangelo." Color the Giant (3-4) injury-riddled pitching staff blue. To brighten things up, they not only traded unhappy Bill Madlock to the Pirates for three pitchers, but also got Pedro Borbon from the Reds for Outfielder Heity Cruz. Borbon's parting words to the Reds were, "I'm going to call my voodoo out and put it on Cincinnati." Sure enough, the Giants beat the Reds 6-4 on a pair of bloop hits and a bad-hop single, and Borbon got credit for the win.
HOUS 49-31 CIN 41-36 SF 38-39 SD 35-46 LA 33-46 ATL 31-46
With California (2-4) at bat and trailing Texas (7-0) by 12 runs in the fourth inning, the phone rang in the Angel dugout and trainer Rich Smith answered it. "Somebody's going down," mumbled a voice, apparently from the Ranger dugout. An inning earlier. Ranger First Baseman Pat Putnam had been beaned. Now to the plate stepped California's Dan Ford and—whoosh!—the first pitch from Ferguson Jenkins sailed behind Ford's head. "The hitters do the job," said Jenkins after Texas had won 14-4. "If you don't protect your own guys, they'll quit on you." By winning all their games, against California and Oakland, the Rangers shot from third place to first. Reliever Jim Kern whiffed seven batters and yielded no runs in 7‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings to earn three saves and his 10th win, while lowering his league-leading ERA to 1.46. "First place right now isn't a big deal," Kern philosophized. "It's like getting ready to kiss before even talking to the girl."
Meanwhile, the other three contenders hung tough. For California that 14-4 defeat stretched its losing streak to seven games, a skid that obliterated a comfortable five-game division lead and dropped the Angels to second place. But they recovered by whipping Kansas City (4-2) twice, the first time on an 11th-inning RBI single by Brian Downing, a .351 hitter.
Until then, the third-place Royals had won six straight—including an uplifting 5-2 triumph over California in which Dennis Leonard, making his first start since suffering an inflamed elbow on May 24, pitched a three-hitter. Minnesota (5-2) stranded 15 base runners, five shy of the major league record, in a 6-5 loss to Milwaukee, but the Twins maintained the pace, thanks in good part to Roy Smalley's torrid hitting and a four-game sweep of Chicago in which Jerry Koosman snapped a personal six-game losing streak and got two seven-hit victories.
Reliever Shane Rawley of Seattle (3-3) figured in all three Mariner victories, earning two saves and a win by allowing no runs during his 4‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings. But in celebrating at a pub following a 3-2 defeat of the Brewers, Rawley tried to break up a brawl in which his father and brother had been set upon by a gang of youths, threw a punch and fractured a bone in his pitching hand. He will be out for six to eight weeks. Meanwhile, Third Baseman Dan Meyer hit safely in every game, stretching his hitting streak to 21 games, matching the league's longest this season.
Oakland (0-7) squandered leads in four games, but Ross Baumgarten and Steve Trout teamed up to beat Seattle 2-1 and prevent an equally humiliating week for Chicago (1-6).
TEX 44-33 CAL 44-35 KC 42-35 MINN 39-34 CHI 33-43 SEA 34-45 OAK 22-57
In New York (3-3) Reggie Jackson, who had been sidelined 27 days with leg problems, rejoined the lineup at what appeared to be a perfect moment for him. The setting was perfect, too—Yankee Stadium, a sellout crowd and Boston in the other dugout. "Reggie is melodramatic." said owner George Steinbrenner. "He's a great player, and we need him." (If so, George, how come you purchased Cub Rightfielder Bobby Murcer, a former Yankee and a career .280 hitter?) Alas, in the lineup as the DH, Jackson whiffed four times and went 0 for 6 as the Sox won 3-2 in 13 innings. The next night Reggie went hitless in four tries. Boston won 3-2 again and New York plummeted to 12 games behind division-leading Baltimore.
The Red Sox (4-2) got an unexpected boost from rookie Joel Finch, recently called up from Pawtucket, who handcuffed Detroit 3-1, but Boston nonetheless lost ground to the Orioles (6-2). Baltimore's week was unusual only in that it lost two games. Steve Stone and Reliever Don Stanhouse combined to beat Cleveland 3-2 on three hits and five nights later teamed up again to defeat Toronto 4-0 on four hits. In between, Stanhouse earned a save for Mike Flanagan in a 4-3 triumph over the Indians, and Jim Palmer, who missed 19 days with tendinitis and had not won since May 29, returned and beat Cleveland on a four-hitter. Beamed Manager Earl Weaver. "Looks like the master is finally back at work."
Milwaukee, its bullpen thinner than 3.2 beer, twice squandered two-run leads in the ninth inning before winning both times in extra innings and then blew a 6-0 advantage over Minnesota. On that occasion the Brewers went on to lose 8-7. But Milwaukee still won four of six games to keep pace with the Red Sox. Ben Oglivie batted .364 and hit three home runs, and lefthander Bill Castro, a sparingly used reliever who may now be getting lots more work, got his first two wins of the season, over Seattle and Minnesota.
Sparky Anderson landed hard on his Tigers. Having earlier banned mustaches and blue jeans on the road, Anderson ruled out high stirrups on players' socks and ordered that pants be hitched higher. Looking like the 1975 Reds or the 1936 Yankees, the Tigers went out and won four of six. Champ Summers batted .538 and had seven RBIs and, in two victories over Boston, went 6 for 7 and blasted three home runs.
In Cleveland (2-5), the Indians broke a 10-game losing streak by thrashing Baltimore 6-3 on Ron Hassey's single and double that drove home three runs, and Manager Jeff Torborg kept his job—but barely. Torborg was all but canned when the man the front office wanted to bring in, former Yankee Manager Bob Lemon, turned down the post. Tom Underwood bamboozled New York 3-1 on three hits, but otherwise Toronto (1-6) came up empty.
BALT 53-24 BOS 47-27 MIL 44-33 NY 41-36 DET 35-37 CLEV 34-41 TOR 24-56
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ROY SMALLEY: Erupting from a 2-for-20 slump, the Minnesota shortstop banged out 15 hits—eight for extra bases—in 27 at bats to lift his league-leading average to .373. He also scored nine runs and had 12 RBIs.