When the Cubs (5-2) lost 8-2 to San Francisco, the Chicago Sun-Times ran the headline: CUBS SURRENDER MEEKLY TO GIANTS. The Cubs were not amused. After beating the Giants 6-5 on a seventh-inning homer, Bill Buckner refused to speak with the press, silently pointing to a sign above his locker that read NO PRESS ALLOWED AFTER AUG. 15. WE ALL DIED YESTERDAY. Actually, the Cubs were very much alive. They went on to pound the Giants 14-4, prompting the Sun-Times to print a revisionist headline: GIANTS SURRENDER MEEKLY TO CUBS. Whereupon the Cubs began speaking to reporters.
There was plenty to talk about: Bruce Sutter's three saves, which lifted his major league-leading total to 30; Steve Dillard's 11-game hitting streak and .365 average; and the five wins that were fashioned with rallies after the sixth inning.
Pittsburgh (4-2) was making plenty of noise, too. "There's no chance anyone can catch Pittsburgh," said San Diego Manager Roger Craig after the Pirates beat the Padres 5-4 for their sixth straight win and the 17th in their last 23 games. "They get the key hits and make the key outs. They're making their own luck." Four different starters got wins—Bert Blyleven, Jim Bibby, John Candelaria and Bruce Kison—and Catcher Ed Ott had a .556 week. Pittsburgh was so impressive it won praise even when it lost. The Dodgers' Jerry Reuss, a former Pirate, beat the Bucs 5-1 and then said, "They're the best team in the league. That's not taking anything away from Houston, but who would you rather pitch to, Houston or Pittsburgh?"
Righthanders would rather pitch to Montreal (3-2). In losses to Astro righthanders J. R. Richard and Joaquin Andujar, the Expos had only nine hits and two runs. In fact, Montreal failed to score more than three runs in any game but still escaped with a winning week because Dan Schatzeder and Scott Sanderson two-hit the Astros, David Palmer six-hit the Braves, and Steve Rogers five-hit Atlanta.
When St. Louis (3-4) rookie John Fulgham was knocked out by an errant throw in pre-game practice, Trainer Gene Gieselmann revived him and said, "Now go out and throw a no-hitter." As literal-minded as any rookie, Fulgham tried to comply, pitching a perfect game for 5‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings and beating the Giants 3-0 on two hits.
Speaking at a Cincinnati baseball luncheon, Danny Ozark, Philadelphia's beleaguered manager, asked for written questions from the audience. "I wish you'd write these on white paper," Ozark said. "Anytime I see a pink slip, I think I'm fired." Ozark's outlook improved considerably after Nino Espinosa beat the Reds 3-2 on five hits, Randy Lerch defeated the Astros 5-2 on seven, and Greg Gross tripled to edge the Astros 1-0. The Mets (3-2) beat the Braves 18-5, 6-3 and 6-3, to take a 7-1 edge in the clubs' season's series and prove themselves the better of the league's two last-place teams.
PITT 70-51 MONT 66-51 CHI 65-54 ST.L 62-58 PHIL 63-59 NY 50-68
With George Foster and Joe Morgan slumping, and Ken Griffey lost for the season, Cincinnati Manager John McNamara had to go into his famous juggling act. McNamara batted Hector Cruz fourth and Dave Collins third, and they helped Tom Seaver win his ninth straight, 9-2 over San Diego. Then the Reds (4-2) won three of five one-run games against New York and Philadelphia as Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo delivered game-winning hits in the ninth and eighth innings, respectively, and Vic Correll got another gamer in the 10th. Cincinnati has won 17 of its last 24.
Houston is hurting. The Astros (2-4) have batted .286 since the All-Star break, compared with a season-long .255, but they have won only 16 of their last 30. The ultimate in frustration came against Philadelphia: the Astros pounded out 10 hits but left seven men on base and lost 1-0. Earlier, Houston had ended an embarrassing streak of 25 games when Pitcher Joaquin Andujar hit an inside-the-park home run to beat Montreal 2-1. It was the first homer by an Astro in the Dome since July 15.
The bottom dropped out for San Diego, which lost six of seven and fell into fifth. But that wasn't the worst of it. Owner Ray Kroc put his foot in his mouth again when he expressed interest in potential free agents Joe Morgan and Graig Nettles of the Yankees. The indiscretion brought an accusation of tampering from New York owner George Steinbrenner. After a meek apology, Kroc disqualified his team from bidding for either player and pledged to spend up to $10 million rebuilding his team.
San Francisco lost four of six and any pretense of harmony. Outfielder Bill North implied that his teammates were losers, Pitcher Ed Halicki complained that he should be starting instead of relieving, and several writers covering the club strongly suggested that Manager Joe Altobelli should be fired. The Giants fell into fourth behind Los Angeles (5-1), which has won 21 of 29. The latest Dodger heroes were a local boy, Babo Castillo, who made good by winning one game and saving another; veteran Burt Hooton, who two-hit the Cardinals 9-0 with his new one-finger curve; and Gary Thomasson, who took advantage of a rare chance to play in the outfield by homering three times.
The only Atlanta (1-5) hero was Phil Niekro, who threw his 200th career complete game and beat Houston 3-2.
HOUS 70-53 CIN 68-56 LA 57-65 SF 57-66 SD 53-71 ATL 47-76
Rob Wilfong's three-run homer, the first by a Twin in 10 games, gave Minnesota a 5-2 win over New York. Wilfong's loud bat—he hit .417 for the week—was a lonesome one. Roy Smalley has hit .200 since the All-Star break, and Ron Jackson has not had a game-winning RBI all season. All of this might be disastrous for another pennant contender, except that Minnesota plays in baseball's weakest division. The Twins (3-4) have a .500 record since the break, but they have nonetheless gained two games on first-place California. Typifying Minnesota's good luck last week was a pair of wins by Jerry Koosman, who beat the A's 1-0 and the Yankees 5-2 while yielding 10 hits in each game. For the first time in his career Koosman is giving up more hits (200) than innings pitched (192), but his record is 15-10.
The Angels (2-4) began gearing up for September. Nolan Ryan pitched for the first time since injuring his elbow on July 25 and beat the Blue Jays 7-5. Two other ailing pitchers, Chris Knapp and Frank Tanana, are expected to be available soon. Another likely September threat is Kansas City (3-4), whose rookie pitcher, Craig Chamberlain, beat Detroit and Baltimore by 7-1 scores in his first major league starts.
Texas lost six of seven, but drew its harshest criticism for needlessly acquiring a lefthanded first baseman, Willie Montanez, from the Mets. "Can Montanez pitch?" snapped Outfielder Richie Zisk, referring to the three first basemen already on the Texas roster and the pitching staffs 3.98 ERA. Added ex-Ranger Oscar Gamble, now of the Yanks, "If they'd just get a team and let them play, they'd be better off. They have a lot of talent, enough to win the division for sure. But they ought to let the guys get to know each other for three or four years. They ought to let the talent gel."
After defeating the Orioles 7-0, Chicago rookie Steve (Rainbow) Trout was so happy he leaped into the arms of Catcher Milt May. Chicago (3-5) got its other two wins from another rookie, Ross Baumgarten, who beat Toronto and Boston and kept his composure. Lamar Johnson extended his hitting streak to 19 games.
Rick Langford of Oakland (3-3) defeated the Indians 4-1 on three hits in his fifth straight complete game. Seattle star Bruce Bochte was wondering again if his teammates would fold in the stretch. When he expressed similar feelings in 1978, Manager Darrell Johnson called him a "big mouth." This time—as the Mariners lost five of six for the week and eight of their last 10—Johnson seemed to agree with Bochte as he called a team meeting to discuss the club's poor play. If Seattle eventually does fold, of course, hardly anyone will notice.
CAL 68-55 MINN 64-57 KC 63-59 TEX 61-62 CHI 54-68 SEA 50-73 OAK 38-85
On the surface, all was well in Boston (5-1). The Red Sox have baseball's two hottest players in Dennis Eckersley, who beat Minnesota 12-1 to win his eighth straight start, and Fred Lynn, whose hitting figured in all five victories. But storm clouds were gathering over Back Bay. Catcher Carlton Fisk reinjured his right elbow, sidelining himself indefinitely, and the staff earned run average, excluding Eckersley, has been 4.83 since the All-Star break. With second basemen Jerry Remy and Jack Brohamer both injured, the Red Sox hurriedly acquired Ted Sizemore from the Cubs, and he promptly provided some welcome sunshine, going 3 for 3 and spearheading an 8-2 win over the White Sox in his debut.
The Orioles (3-3) collected only 19 hits in their first five games but twice beat Chicago 2-1 in the 12th inning. One victory came on Al Bumbry's single, the other as the result of a play called "32 trap," in which base runner Doug DeCinces deliberately allowed himself to be spotted wandering between first and second while Eddie Murray was at third. When White Sox Pitcher Guy Hoffman turned, to pick off DeCinces, Murray raced home to score. Even so, Manager Earl Weaver was displeased. "We could use a visit from Dr. Long Ball," he said. The next day the doctor delivered 14 hits—five for extra bases—and the Orioles whipped Kansas City 9-2.
Even as reports surfaced that the concrete was deteriorating in Yankee Stadium, New York (4-2) was abuilding. Bobby Murcer slugged three homers; Reggie Jackson, who has never finished a season with a batting average of more than .300, edged up to .306; and Oscar Gamble beat his old Texas teammates by singling twice, homering and throwing out former Yankee Mickey Rivers at the plate.
"We need a new manager," said Pitcher Tom Buskey of the Blue Jays. "Roy Hartsfield doesn't know how to handle a pitching staff." Buskey's timing could not have been worse. The Blue Jays (4-3) had their second winning week of the season as Hartsfield got victories from two rookies he inserted into the pitching rotation. Butch Edge won his major league debut, 4-2 over the A's, and Dave Stieb beat the Angels 6-5.
Resurgent Cleveland (3-3) kept rolling behind leadoff man Mike Hargrove, who batted .409 and homered four times, and Rick Wise (13-7), who shutout Seattle on five hits.
Detroit and Milwaukee each won five of six, though they did it by different means. Led by Pitcher Jack Morris, who won twice, and Jason Thompson, who homered thrice, the Tigers triumphed with relative ease. The Brewers, however, were down to their last out two games in a row against Kansas City before pulling out victories on Ben Oglivie's homer and Gorman Thomas' bases-loaded walk.
BALT 79-41 BOS 75-45 MIL 72-51 NY 65-55 DET 64-58 CLEV 61-61 TOR 39-83
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
FRED LYNN: The Red Sox centerfielder batted .600, homered five times and drove in 13 runs. He leads the American League in hitting (.346) and homers (36) and trails only California's Don Baylor in RBIs (107-104).