The crowds at Fenway Park cheered for Yaz' 3,000th hit, but they lit into Manager Don Zimmer and owners Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux. And why not? The team had lost 18 of 25 and had nothing to look forward to except 1980. A second highlight of the week took place in Baltimore. Bob Watson singled, doubled, tripled and homered—in that order—to become the first Red Sox player to hit for the cycle since 1968, when Yaz himself performed the feat. The Sox, who were 3-4, beat the Orioles in that game, but they also lost two to the Birds (3-4), both to Steve Stone, who has won eight of his last 10. Manager Earl Weaver's main worry was the Birds' hitting. "This is the most nerve-racking time of the year," he said. "I keep telling people there is a long way to go." With an 11-game lead, not many people believe him.
Milwaukee (3-3) doesn't. At least, not Pitcher Moose Haas, who said, "To be realistic, we're not going to finish first. So we have to battle it out with Boston now." Some of that battling was done with fists, but with the Angels. For the second straight week Lary Sorensen threw balls at Dan Ford. Ford retaliated by throwing a bat at Sorensen, and players from both benches threw punches at everyone else—except Frank Howard, the Brewers' 6'7", 285-pound first-base coach.
Exactly one year after the Yankees (3-3) moved into first place after trailing the Red Sox by 14 games, they were just two behind Boston but in fourth. The season was lost for the team but not for the players. Ron Guidry struck out 11 Red Sox to win his 11th straight and 17th this year. In an effort to help Ron get to 20, Billy Martin offered him a shot at an easy win by taking over for an injured Don Hood in the second inning with the Yanks leading Detroit 5-0. True to character, Guidry declined in favor of Ron Davis, who, with a 12-2 record and eight saves has a chance to be Rookie of the Year. "It wouldn't be fair," said Guidry. Davis got the win. That was the Tigers' (4-1) only loss. In their previous four games they outscored their opponents 25-6.
September 23, 1979
Bobby Bonds of the Indians (1-4) asked to be relieved of his outfield duties. The boo birds, he said, were getting to him. After conferring with the front office, Bonds found himself as a DH. With the score tied 10-10 in the bottom of the ninth, Bonds stepped to the plate—far from the jeering crowd—and hit a grand slam off Toronto's Tom Buskey, giving the Indians a record eight for the season. The Blue Jays (4-2) scarcely had time to mourn the loss. They beat Baltimore—twice. They hadn't done it once since Aug. 8, 1978, when Tom Underwood got the win. He got another, and rookie Butch Edge followed with a six-hitter the next night. It was only the third winning week for the Jays this year.
BALT 96-50 MIL 86-62 BOS 82-63 NY 80-65 DET 79-69 CLEV 74-73 TOR 48-99
"What it boils down to is, nobody in this division has played championship-caliber baseball," said Manager Gene Mauch after his Twins (4-4) had split a series with the Royals. "Somebody will be champion, yes, but nobody's played championship baseball." Indeed they haven't. At the end of the week the first-place Angels (2-3) had a won-lost percentage of only .547. In the East they would be in fifth place, 16 games out, and in either National League division, they would be third.
It was a frustrating week for Mauch. On Monday in Kansas City, with the score tied 5-5 in the 13th, the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out. But the Royals escaped unscathed, helped by a short-to-home-to-third double play that Manager Whitey Herzog called the most unusual he'd seen in his 30 years in baseball. Had Mauch ever witnessed anything like it? After watching his team lose the game in the 14th, Mauch glumly replied, "I may have—before I started junior high."
The Angels beat the Brewers twice but lost twice to the surprising White Sox (4-2). Nolan Ryan lasted just 14 pitches in an 8-7 loss, giving up five runs on four hits in a third of an inning and Chris Knapp survived only two-thirds of an inning, losing 11-5.
Last month, following several trades with New York clubs, Brad Corbett, owner of the Rangers (4-3), was nicknamed Chuckles the Clown by a local writer. Last week, after former Yankee Mickey Rivers went 5 for 5—two homers and three singles—in a 5-3 win over Minnesota, and Willie Montanez hit his fifth home run of the year, all since leaving the Mets, and a grand slam at that, it was Corbett who was doing the chuckling.
Seattle's Leon Roberts walloped a grand slam, too, as the Mariners (2-4) beat the Royals 7-5. Wayne Gross of Oakland (3-4) left his glasses at home and decided to "hit natural" in Chicago. His pinch grand slam was the A's first since Reggie Jackson hit one in 1970. And Matt Keough, who, after breaking an 18-game losing streak last week, declared himself 1-0, dropped a 5-0 decision to Milwaukee to make it 1-1.
CAL 81-67 KC 78-70 MINN 76-72 TEX 74-75 CHI 64-83 SEA 62-87 OAK 52-97
The bases were loaded in the bottom of the ninth, and Tug McGraw of Philadelphia (4-2) had a shot at a major league record—most grand-slam home runs allowed, season. McGraw had given up four, and now, facing the Mets' Doug Flynn, he could surrender a fifth. Instead, McGraw got Flynn to hit into a routine double play—fly ball to center, runner thrown out at the plate. A TV replay showed that Catcher Bob Boone had juggled the throw, but Umpire Terry Tata called base runner Joel Youngblood out. "Nice catch, nice drop, nice recovery," said McGraw. And of his missed record: "Just goes to show I'm a team man. I'm not one for personal records."
Teammate Pete Rose is. Starting the week 32 hits shy of becoming the first major leaguer to have 10 200-hit seasons, Rose picked up 17, extending his batting streak to a personal season high of 12 games and raising his average from .311 to .327. He also put in his bid for the Danny Ozark/ Dallas Green manager's job—a position that seems to have as many applicants, including Leo Durocher—as Rose has hits. Included among those names supposedly in the hat is that of the Mets' Joe Torre, whose team was 0-5 and has lost 23 of its last 28 games to fall 32½ back.
The Phils bumped the Cubs (2-5) into fifth. And although Chicago's Dave Kingman got his 45th home run to lead Mike Schmidt of the Phils by three, Kong lost a home-run hitting contest with Schmidt, 9-4, at the Vet. In the regular game neither man hit one out.
The questions of the week were: Who is in first place? And how many games back are they? On Wednesday, Montreal was in first by .0002—but because of a statistical anomaly, stood a half game behind Pittsburgh. While everyone was trying to figure that one out, the question became moot. The Expos fell .001 behind the Pirates, half a game out. "It 'seams' we're a team of destiny," the Expos were chanting after winning a game on a fluke single that hit a seam in the artificial turf. But just to make sure, the Expos hold a chapel service every Sunday and have had high attendance. Unfortunately, destiny has conspired to make Montreal rest on the seventh day: three times this year, Sunday doubleheaders have been rained out, and the Expos were faced with five twin bills in the remaining 15 days of the season.
The only bright spot for the 1-4 Cardinals was another win by rookie John Fulgham, his ninth, all of them complete games. Although St. Louis still leads the league in team batting with a .281 average, it has failed to cash in often enough on its hits, stranding 100 more men on base than its opponents.
The Pirates (4-0) continued to swash without buckling. They have won 15 of their last 19 games. After picking up two wins and a save, Reliever Kent Tekulve said, "There's no pressure. It's just fun."
PITT 88-57 MONT 86-56 ST.L 77-67 PHIL 75-72 CHI 74-72 NY 55-89
It promised to be the pitchers' battle of the year: J. R. Richard vs. Tom Seaver; Astros vs. Reds; Smoke vs. Fire; a battle for first place. The teams had juggled their rotations for the confrontation. But the duel lasted only three innings, and neither pitcher made it to the seventh. By the time the dust had settled and Reliever Tom Hume got the last out for a 9-8 Reds' victory, eight pitchers had given up 17 runs on 28 hits. The next night the teams' No. 2 pitchers—Mike LaCoss and Joe Niekro—faced each other. This time nine pitchers gave up 11 runs on 23 hits, with Hume once again getting the final out, for his 15th save. Shell-shocked, the teams headed for the West Coast, the Reds (3-2) in front of the Astros (2-3) by 1½ games.
The Dodgers (4-2) were waiting. They even had 100° weather and the worst smog in a quarter of a century to greet the visiting Reds. While the Reds rubbed their eyes, rookie Rick Sutcliffe smoked baseballs by them—he had a no-hitter for 6‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings—and got his first major league shutout, 2-0, his second win of the week over the Reds. The Giants (2-4) were held to four hits by the Astros' Vern Ruhle, but the next day the Astros lost, the Reds won and their lead was back to 1½ games. The Giants also beat Atlanta (4-2), but lost two to the Braves, as did San Diego (2-4), which fell to within two games of the cellar. Randy Jones and Bob Owchinko got the only wins for the Padres while Gaylord Perry was back home planting his fall corn.
CIN 84-64 HOU 82-65 LA 71-77 SF 65-84 SD 62-87 ATL 59-88
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RICK SUTCLIFFE: The Dodger rookie beat the Reds twice, allowing just one run on five hits in one game and no runs on three hits in the other. He has won seven of his last eight and is the Dodgers' leading winner with 15.