The Brewers (3-4) took sole possession of second place, and Manager George Bamberger seemed to temporarily lose possession of his senses. In an 18-8 defeat by Kansas City, Bamberger gave pitching auditions to Third Baseman Sal Bando, Infielder Jim Gantner and Catcher Buck Martinez. There may have been method in his madness, however. Although three regular pitchers allowed 15 runs in three innings, his throw-ins held the Royals to just three runs over the last six. Bando also set an unofficial major league record: by his own admission, he threw "about a dozen" spitballs in his three-inning stint. "The ball was shining when it got to the plate," said Catcher Charlie Moore. While Gorman Thomas was hitting four home runs and Six-to Lezcano three, the Brewer pitching was allowing 49 runs. Even though the effort enabled the Brewers to pass the slumping Red Sox, it dropped them eight games behind the Orioles. Milwaukee announced that slugging Outfielder Larry Hisle, out since May 18, would be reactivated in time for the pennant drive. If there is one.
Baltimore (6-3) kept winning and Earl Weaver kept fighting. After being thrown out of the first game of a doubleheader sweep of Chicago, Weaver filed a protest over what he called a lack of "umpire integrity," a veiled reference to his longtime nemesis, ump Ron Luciano. This did not sit well with League President Lee MacPhail, who was at Comiskey Park at the time. MacPhail suspended Weaver for three games. In the manager's absence, Jim Palmer won his first start since June 27 and Eddie Murray hit three homers and drove in all the runs in a 7-4 victory over Minnesota. Later in the week Mike Flanagan beat the Twins 5-4 for his 19th victory, the most in the majors. Gary Roenicke hit three homers to give him 22 for the season. All but two of them have come against Western Division teams.
Detroit (6-2) won six straight, five of them by one run, before running into the awesome A's, who beat the Tigers twice. Steve Kemp was the hero on three different occasions. In a doubleheader sweep of the Mariners, Kemp slugged three homers, including a game-winner in the 10th inning of the first half of the twin bill and a game-tying shot in the seventh inning of the nightcap. He also had the decisive hit in the sixth inning of a 2-1 victory over California.
September 9, 1979
The Yankees (3-3) picked up George Scott, who had been traded away by Boston and released by Kansas City. Given a third chance, he hit a three-run homer to stake Ron Guidry to his eighth straight victory, 7-5 over the Rangers. The next night against the Royals, the Boomer had three hits, drove in two runs and stole a base in a 7-3 win. But Scott was not the whole Yankee show. Tommy John won his 18th game, and Reggie Jackson hit his 362nd career homer, passing Joe DiMaggio to rank 26th on the alltime list. New York's hopes for the future were raised when Double-A West Haven became the fifth Yankee farm team to win a division title this year.
"We ain't never been in this deep a hole before," said Boston Manager Don Zimmer as the Red Sox (2-4) all but dropped out of the pennant race. Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn and Rick Burleson played while injured, but what hurt the Sox most were their four errors in a 7-3 loss to the White Sox and a two-hit shutout by the Rangers' Doc Medich in Fenway Park. Meanwhile, Yaz moved to within eight hits of 3,000.
The Indians (4-3) received an encouraging relief performance from the most expensive outpatient in baseball history, Wayne Garland, and a six-hitter from Len Barker. The Blue Jays (3-4) beat Oakland 7-0 as rookie Phil Huffman allowed only a sixth-inning single by Jim Essian, and Roy Howell had four hits, including a grand slam homer. Relief Pitcher Tom Buskey extended his scoreless streak to 17 innings before giving up the winning run in a 3-2 loss to Seattle.
BALT 87-46 MIL 81-56 BOS 78-54 NY 72-60 DET 73-63 CLEV 69-67 TOR 43-92
Most players would be overjoyed if they went from a sixth-place club to a pennant contender, but Pitcher John Montague liked Seattle so much that he broke down and cried when the Mariners sold him to first-place California (2-5). "There are worse places to go," he said. "I'm happy...I guess." By week's end Montague had recovered sufficiently to save both of the Angel victories and put them back on top after they had relinquished first place to Kansas City for a day. Third Baseman Carney Lansford homered his first three times up in a 7-4 win over Cleveland. That helped offset a two-day suspension of Rod Carew for bumping Umpire Nick Bremigan.
The Royals (page 26) won five of seven, thanks in part to a four-game stretch in which they scored 13 first-inning runs. Hal McRae batted .419 with nine RBIs, Amos Otis drove in 10 runs and hit .424, and Darrell Porter went 10 for 23 with nine RBIs. In one game, Kansas City spotted the Yankees five runs and came back to win 9-8. "I don't remember a time when all of our hitters were pounding the ball like they've been doing the last week or so," said Coach Steve Boros. "The top six batters in our order have a chance at hitting .300 this year." There was bad news for fans of serious theater, though. Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian, has apparently all but abandoned his act. Hrabosky was all business in a 2‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬®-inning stint against Milwaukee, during which he allowed no runs and no hits and didn't stomp off the mound once.
The White Sox (3-4), who have taken plenty of abuse on the field this season, continued to take abuse about their field. First, Earl Weaver protested playing a doubleheader because the Comiskey Park diamond was damaged by heavy rains and recent rock concerts. Then Red Sox Outfielder Dwight Evans aggravated a hamstring injury and threatened to sue owner Bill Veeck over the field's condition. The next night the umpires ruled the field unplayable, and three nights after that Brewer Manager George Bamberger protested a rain-shortened 4-3 loss to the White Sox because he contended that the grounds crew had not properly maintained the infield. In between gripes, Chet Lemon homered twice in a 6-1 victory over Milwaukee.
The Rangers (3-4) pounded the Yankees 10-2 to break a five-game losing streak; Doc Medich shut out the Red Sox on two hits for his first win since July 31; and Mickey Rivers raced home from first on a single to beat Boston 5-4. Ken Landreaux won two games for the Twins (3-4) with an eighth-inning single and a sixth-inning home run, and Mike Marshall got his 28th and 29th saves. Oakland (4-3) had a rare winning week, beating the Tigers and Blue Jays twice each. Rick Lang-ford defeated Toronto 6-3, striking out 10 and recording his seventh straight complete game, one short of Vida Blue's club record set in 1971.
Pitcher Floyd Bannister's string of 13 consecutive losses on the road was in peril when Seattle (3-5) took a four-hit, 4-0 lead into the ninth at Cleveland. But the Indians scored five runs in the inning, and Bannister's streak was 14 and counting.
CAL 73-63 KC 72-63 MINN 70-64 TEX 65-71 CHI 59-75 SEA 58-79 OAK 45-92
It was bye-bye Danny Ozark after the Phillies (2-4) lost five in a row to fall two games under .500 and move closer to the last-place Mets than they were to the first-place Pirates. "There were a lot of tears in the clubhouse," said Shortstop Larry Bowa. "If this were a fair world, 18 players would have gotten fired." Said Pete Rose, "If Miller Huggins were managing this team, we'd still be struggling in fifth place." Their testimonials came a little too late to save the easygoing Ozark, who was the league's senior manager in service. He had managed the Phils since 1973. The move did wake up the Phillies, at least temporarily. They won their first two games under interim Manager Dallas Green. Mike Schmidt homered in both victories to give him 42 for the year and tie him with Dave Kingman for the league lead, and Doug Bird took advantage of a rare start to beat the Braves 6-2 in a game reduced to 5½ innings by rain.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh (6-1) rolled merrily along the West Coast, as its pitchers allowed only 17 runs and Bruce Kison won twice. In his 9-2 victory over San Diego, Kison hit the third home run of his career, a grand slam. Willie Stargell homered twice in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of San Francisco, and Shortstop Dale Berra added another to celebrate his latest return from the minor leagues.
The Expos, who won four of five, received permission to print playoff and World Series tickets for the first time in their history, but Pittsburgh may prevent Montreal fans from making use of them. The wins came in a variety of ways: on a bases-loaded walk; on a three-run homer by Ellis Valentine; on bases-loaded triples by Valentine and Andre Dawson; and on a pinch-hit single by flu-stricken Rodney Scott. Bill Lee won his 13th game, 5-3 over Houston, but had to leave after the seventh inning with a muscle cramp. He immediately prescribed potassium-rich bananas for himself. "Did you ever see a monkey with a cramp?" he asked.
Ted Simmons accidentally hit Third Base Coach Jack Krol when he threw his bat away in disgust, but not even Krol could blame Simmons and his St. Louis (4-2) teammates for being frustrated. The Cards have 13 more wins than they did at this time last year, but they are only 6½ games closer to first place. Keith Hernandez, who hit .255 in '78, raised his league-leading average to .345 and his RBI total to a career-high 94 with three hits and four runs batted in during a 5-3 defeat of the Padres. With Dave Kingman out of the starting lineup for five days, the Cubs (3-4) went homerless. When Kingman returned, he hit his 42nd, the team's only home run of the week. Bruce Sutter appeared in all the wins and earned his 33rd, 34th and 35th saves to move within two of the league record and three of the major league mark.
The Little League champions from Taiwan were treated to a game at Shea Stadium between the Mets and Braves, but it was clear from the start that the wrong team was sitting in the stands. The Mets (0-6) committed three errors, and the visitors from the East walked out midway through the Braves' 5-4 victory. They missed seeing an uncultural exchange between Third Baseman Richie Hebner and some Mets fans. The crowd jeered Hebner for waving at two ground balls and striking out in the ninth with the tying run in scoring position, and Hebner made a crude gesture in reply.
PITT 80-54 MONT 73-54 CHI 71-61 ST.L 71-61 PHIL 67-67 NY 52-79
The Astros (4-2) fell out of first place for the first time since May 29 but reclaimed it four days later. "It's great to be back on top," said Manager Bill Virdon after J. R. Richard beat the Mets 3-1 on seven hits. "That's the only spot we've gotten used to." Richard earlier had a two-hitter against the Expos, striking out 12 in a 3-0 victory. Houston also received strong pitching from Ken Forsch, who returned to the starting rotation and teamed with Randy Niemann and Joe Sambito to three-hit New York. The Astros need good pitching—they are last in the league in home runs, with 46, only four more than Dave Kingman or Mike Schmidt. The only two Houston had last week were by Richard and another pitcher, Joaquin Andujar. "Our pitchers would be in shock if we got them some runs," said Third Baseman Enos Cabell.
Cincinnati (4-2) ran over the Phillies and took a brief hold on first place. Then the Reds ran into the Expos, who beat them 8-7 and 7-2. In the second loss, Montreal scored seven runs off Tom Seaver in an inning and a third to stop his career-high winning streak at 11 games. Before that defeat, Seaver was 18-9 lifetime against the Expos and 4-0 at Olympic Stadium. But there were some positive notes, too: Mike LaCoss and Tom Hume combined to two-hit Philadelphia 4-2, and Joe Morgan batted .450.
The heart is gone from San Francisco (1-6), or San Fiasco, as one newspaper called the team. Vida Blue, struggling with a 10-12 record and a 5.18 ERA, brandished a clubhouse chair at reporters, and fellow Pitcher John Montefusco walked out on the club after being fined $500 for drinking on the team plane. Blue later said he was joking, and Montefusco sheepishly returned, but the Giants continued to lose. At the beginning of the season, starters Ed Halicki, Bob Knepper, Montefusco and Blue were supposed to give San Francisco the best pitching staff in baseball, but their combined record is 27-33, and less renowned John Curtis and Ed Whitson have been more reliable. Whitson four-hit the Cardinals 3-2 in a game decided by Willie McCovey's pinch single.
Gaylord Perry broke a personal five-game losing streak as San Diego (2-4) beat the Cubs 3-1. The Padres then dropped to within three games of last place with their 26th loss in the last 38 games. Two base-running blunders in the 10th and 14th innings by Rookie Jim Wilhelm cost San Diego an 8-7, 15-inning loss to the Cardinals.
The Dodgers (4-3) got two victories from rookie Rick Sutcliffe and another from 14-year veteran Don Sutton. Sutcliffe's 13th win set a Los Angeles first-year record, and Sutton's 2,506th strikeout moved him ahead of Christy Mathewson and into 14th place on the alltime list. Sutcliffe also had the dubious distinction of being ejected in the ninth inning of a 6-4 win over the Cubs for hitting Scot Thompson. Steve Garvey slugged four home runs and batted .321.
Atlanta (3-2) finally found somebody to beat up on—the Mets. The Braves swept a three-game series in New York 5-1, 6-4 and 5-4 behind the good pitching of Buddy Jay Solomon, Phil Niekro and Rick Matula. Niekro later lost 6-4 to Philadelphia to bring his bulky record to 17-18.
HOUS 77-58 CIN 77-59 LA 63-72 SF 60-76 SD 57-79 ATL 53-81
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
J. R. RICHARD: In pitching two-hit and seven-hit victories, the Houston righthander allowed no earned runs and ran his string of complete games to eight. In his last seven starts, he had 67 strikeouts and an 0.57 ERA.