Cardinal relievers have been so inept that their appearances during games in Pittsburgh provoked the stadium organist to play Send in the Clowns. The St. Louis (2-3) bullpen reached its nadir during a subsequent series in Chicago, in which five pitchers were tagged for nine hits and seven runs in four innings before Cub Barry Foote mercifully ended the game with a two-out grand slam in the ninth. During that 16-12 victory for Chicago (3-2), Foote assaulted Cardinal pitchers for four hits—two were homers—and eight RBIs. Also included in the Cubs' 23-hit outburst were five by Ivan DeJesus, who needed just five innings to hit for the cycle.
No one pitched better than Steve Carlton of Philadelphia (2-4), who beat St. Louis on one hit, a second-inning single by Ted Simmons. For Carlton, that was his sixth one-hitter, a modern league record. Mike Schmidt's two homers and six RBIs carried the Phillies past the Mets 14-8. New York (2-4) won the two other games between the teams. After Ray Burris and Neil Allen teamed up for a 3-0 victory, Mark Bomback and three relievers held on for a 3-2 triumph.
Still in first place was Pittsburgh (4-2), which got two complete-game wins from John Candelaria and some hefty hitting from Mike Easier. By homering twice and driving across four runs in a rare start, Easler earned the job as the Pirates' regular leftfielder.
Steve Rogers became the first Montreal pitcher to go the distance when he beat Pittsburgh 3-2. One the Expos (3-3) didn't win was an 8-7 slugfest in Atlanta, where they lost despite three home runs and seven RBIs by Larry Parrish.
PITT 9-5 CHI 7-5 MONT 6-7 PHIL 6-7 ST.L 6-8 NY 5-9
"I released a lot of anxiety on that swing," said Steve Garvey of Los Angeles (7-0) after his three-run homer had decked San Diego 6-3. Garvey and the Dodgers had gotten off to a stumbling start this season, but last week he had eight RBIs as L.A. played flawlessly. The Dodgers slugged eight home runs, one a three-run shot in the 10th by Dusty Baker that beat the Giants 5-2. They also stole 12 bases, six by rookie Rudy Law, who leads the majors with nine. And the pitching was sparkling: Don Sutton and Dave Goltz fashioned shutouts against San Francisco.
Houston (3-3) also had a pair of shutouts, which helped the Astros stay on the heels of division-leading Cincinnati. With late relief help, Nolan Ryan defeated the Reds 8-0 and Joe Niekro trimmed the Mets 6-0. After a 7-4 victory over New York, winner J.R. Richard said, "I'm nine feet tall and I weigh 400 pounds, and people expect me to throw the ball 150 miles an hour." That was Richard's way of trying to say he is merely mortal and that he is 2'4" shorter, 163 pounds lighter and 55 mph slower than he has seemed to be in running up a 3-0 record.
What kept Cincinnati (3-3) in front were two wins in three games against Houston. The Reds took the opener 6-5 behind George Foster's five hits. And they won the rubber game 3-2 in 12 innings when Harry Spilman got a pinch double and Dave Concepcion, who was using a lengthy 36-inch bat to cope with outside pitches, reached out to single across the decisive run.
The Giants often were having trouble merely coping. Case No. 1: with two outs, Pitcher Bob Knepper fielded a grounder and, in trying to start an unneeded double play, threw the ball past Shortstop Johnnie LeMaster. Case No. 2: Rightfielder Jack Clark headed for the dugout after catching a fly for what he thought was the third out, but which actually was only the second. Case No. 3: Clark dug in at the plate in anticipation of the next pitch, not realizing that the previous delivery was ball four. Case No. 4: First Baseman Mike Ivie rolled the ball toward the mound after what he thought was the third out—it was the second—and allowed a run to score. At other times the Giants (3-4) were alert, John Montefusco ending a string of 35 incomplete games by beating San Diego 5-1 and Knepper defeating Cincinnati 3-1.
San Diego relievers had trouble protecting leads. Three times they blew late advantages as the Padres (0-6) collapsed.
Angered by Atlanta's dismal start, owner Ted Turner ordered the benching of slumping Gary Matthews, asked players with no-trade clauses in their contracts to waive such clauses, threatened a wholesale call-up of his Savannah farm team and banned food from the clubhouse. He also decided to send the Braves' most notable player, young slugger Bob Horner, who was hitting .059, to the minors, but Horner refused to go. So while Horner waited around Atlanta, asking to be traded and risking being put on the disqualified list, his replacement at third base, Larvell Blanks, started the Braves (4-2) off on a streak of four one-run wins with a 10th-inning homer that beat the Padres 3-2. Keeping Atlanta rolling were two game-winning hits by Chris Chambliss and one by Brian Asselstine.
CIN 12-4 HOUS 10-5 LA 10-7 SD 6-10 SF 6-11 ATL 5-10
They're called the "No Names," but last week the White Sox (5-1) battered clubs loaded with big names—the Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees—to move into first place. Britt Burns, 20, combined with Mike Proly for a 2-0 win in Boston, the first shutout there by Chicago since 1973. Reliever Ed Farmer, an oldtimer among the Sox at 30, had two saves and a victory, Steve (Rainbow) Trout, 22, stranded 10 Yanks during a 6-0 win, and Rich Dotson, 21, fanned nine Red Sox in six innings while defeating Boston 9-3. Among the big hitters—Chicago batted .372—were Harold Baines, 21, who had three doubles and a single as Baltimore was beaten 9-6, Mike Squires, 28, and Bob Molinaro, 29. When Chicago came from behind twice to defeat New York 8-7, it was Squires who put the White Sox ahead briefly with a single in the 10th and permanently with a suicide squeeze in the 12th. As for Molinaro, he had a two-run pinch homer in that game and batted .500.
Also surprising was Oakland (4-3), which ran its winning streak to seven games. The A's accomplished this by sweeping a 6-1, 8-2 doubleheader from the Angels behind the pitching of Matt Keough and Steve McCatty, and by beating the Mariners 4-2 on Jeff Newman's two-run double in the ninth.
Oakland lost twice to the Twins (4-1) as its Manager Billy Martin was pelted with marshmallows—a reminder of the day last fall when he punched out a salesman of same in Minnesota and got himself fired by the Yankees. Seven home runs helped the Twins to their best week thus far. Seattle (1-5) had its worst week, its only win coming when Bill Stein hit a two-run homer in the eighth to beat Oakland 5-4.
"What we need is to put together a complete game and some timely hitting," said California's Don Baylor. The Angels (3-3), who were hitting .186 for the season at the time, promptly ended a five-game skid by drubbing the Twins 17-0 on 17 hits as Bruce Kison gave up only one. He came within two outs of a no-hitter before Ken Landreaux doubled.
After his average had tumbled to .209, 1976 batting champ and 1979 runner-up George Brett of Kansas City (4-2) viewed films of himself when he was hitting well. Teammate Jamie Quirk, who also watched the movies, noticed that Brett used to hold his bat straighter, which George did the next night. Result: three hits, four RBIs and a 7-4 win over Toronto. Larry Gura, who had been shelled earlier in the week, also straightened himself out, beating Baltimore 7-0.
In the past, pitchers have used shine balls, emery balls, cut balls and mud balls. Now, courtesy of that allegedly reformed spitballer, Gaylord Perry of Texas (2-4), there is the "puffball." Indian Outfielder Rick Manning claimed that Perry's deliveries were enveloped in "a puff of smoke" that came from liberal applications of rosin he put in his right hand before pitching. The umpires, however, didn't order Perry to cease and desist, and the Rangers huffed and puffed to a 4-1 win.
CHI 11-4 OAK 10-6 TEX 9-6 KC 8-7 MINN 8-8 CAL 7-7 SEA 8-9
Toronto (4-2), the only team in the East with a season record of better than .500, began the week in fourth place and climbed to the top with its fourth consecutive victory over Milwaukee. Barry Bonnell pulled that one out 4-0 with a ninth-inning grand slam. The day before, the Blue Jays had beaten the Brewers 5-3 when Joey McLaughlin pitched four shutout innings of relief. McLaughlin also saved a 5-3 victory over Cleveland by retiring all five batters he faced. Bonnell had three doubles and Otto Velez a three-run homer in that game.
Baltimore (1-5) fell from first to fifth, winning only when Mike Flanagan beat Kansas City 4-0. The Orioles' descent was caused by a lack of punch: their .192 hitting for the week left them with a season average of .211, the lowest in either league.
Also taking a plunge were the Brewers (2-4), who began the week tied with the Orioles for the lead. Milwaukee dropped to fourth even though Robin Yount extended his string of two-hit games to seven. With a runner on first and none out in the 11th against Cleveland, Gorman Thomas, the league's 1979 home-run champ, was given the bunt sign. However, after Victor Cruz wild-pitched the runner to second, the bunt sign was removed. Given the green light, Thomas whaled the daylights out of the next pitch, his home run giving the Brewers a 7-5 victory.
With Willie Randolph batting .500 and Ruppert Jones and Bobby Murcer getting game-deciding hits, New York won four of six. Three of the Yankee victories were by one run over the Orioles; in the first of them, Tommy John gave up only three hits before Goose Gossage came in to get the last out.
The Red Sox (3-3), who hit just five homers the first two weeks, began to connect. Boston beat Chicago 9-8 and Detroit 12-7 as Sox sluggers unloaded three home runs in each game. Because he was the DH against Texas, Carl Yastrzemski had time to work on his problem of "coming up on fastballs" when he swung. Yaz went to the clubhouse between at bats, wrapped a sanitary stocking with tape and had a locker-room attendant lob it to him. "I hit about 50 in there," said Yaz, who then went out, got the fastball he'd been waiting for and drilled it for a single and a 6-5 win.
When he learned of what Yaz had done, slumping Kirk Gibson of Detroit (3-3) tried the same locker-room remedy. It worked, Gibson making Dave Rozema a 2-0 victor over the Rangers with a two-run homer in the eighth.
Texas lost 8-7 to Cleveland (2-4) when hometown boy Jerry Dybzinski, a rookie shortstop, helped the Tribe rally from a 5-0 deficit by homering in his first at bat in Cleveland. Mike Stanton made himself right at home, too. Stanton, who had pitched for five minor league teams and three in Venezuela since he earned his first big league save in 1975, chalked up No. 2 in that game.
TOR 7-6 BOS 7-7 NY 7-8 MIL 6-7 BALT 6-9 DET 5-10 CLEV 4-9
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DAVE STIEB: Toronto's 22-year-old righthander defeated Kansas City 7-1 and Milwaukee 4-0 with a pair of five-hitters. That brought his record up to 3-0 and lowered his earned-run average to an impressive 1.09.