Something old—a pair of dependable pitchers—and something new—a flock of youngsters—boosted the Dodgers (5-1) into first place. Don Sutton, 35, doubled his victory total as he beat Chicago 2-1 and Pittsburgh 3-1 with plenty of help from some whipper-snappers. Aiding Sutton against the Cubs were Rudy Law, 23, who stole four bases, and Bobby Castillo, 25, who pitched the final three innings and struck out six batters. Steve Howe, 22, wrapped up Sutton's three-hitter against the Pirates by working a perfect ninth inning. Jerry Reuss, 30, twice picked up for Dave Goltz. Five days after Reuss came out of the bullpen to save Goltz' 4-2 triumph over St. Louis, he started when Goltz got the flu and beat Pittsburgh 8-6.
Something borrowed—a tip from Batting Coach Ted Kluszewski to stop lunging at pitches—helped Ray Knight of Cincinnati (1-4) equal a record. Knight became the 20th player in major league history to hit two home runs in one inning, one a grand slam, as the Reds walloped the Mets 15-4. Dave Collins added to the assault with four hits—a day after getting married. Other notable accomplishments were wasted, however. Tom Seaver allowed Montreal only three hits but lost 2-1, and Harry Spilman came through with a pair of pinch homers that drove in four runs in two other defeats.
Something Blue—Vida—helped the Giants (4-2) to their most successful week of the season. After spending much of Tuesday at a court hearing on the theft of his $30,000 BMW, Blue pitched his first shutout since 1978 that night against Pittsburgh, yielding four hits and striking out nine. Four days later, Blue beat the Cardinals 4-2 as Darrell Evans hit a grand slam.
May 25, 1980
Some players insist there is more rabbit in the ball this season, but judging from the ineptitude of National League hitters last week, the ball may instead have a little turtle in it. In a 31-game week, which featured six shutouts and just 23 homers, Houston (0-5) had the feeblest offense of all. The Astros hit .196, with only four doubles and one triple and went 24 innings without a run.
San Diego (4-4) had the stingiest pitching, allowing seven runs. When Randy Jones wasn't hurling shutouts and extending his string of innings without a walk to 39⅖, John Curtis and Rollie Fingers were dispatching hitters with ease. Fingers twice pitched a pair of scoreless innings against St. Louis, earning a 3-2 victory when Gene Richards drove in the decisive run in the ninth and then saving a 2-1 triumph for Curtis. Also displaying a fine arm was Catcher Bill Fahey, who got a save of another kind in the 2-1 win by cutting down three would-be base stealers.
Gary Matthews and Bob Horner came out of the Atlanta (2-2) doghouse and showed some bite. Three hits by Matthews helped Phil Niekro defeat brother Joe of the Astros 7-4. During a two-game split with the Phillies, Horner ended an 0-for-21 slump with a single and then hit his first homer of the season.
LA 20-13 CIN 20-14 HOUS 18-14 SD 17-17 ATL 11-18 SF 13-22
The Expos (4-0) hit only .216, but opposing batters fared even worse against 40-year-old lefthander Woodie Fryman. Fryman retired all 19 batters he faced, 17 on consecutive nights in Houston to preserve 3-2 and 1-0 victories. After a day off, Fryman got the final two outs—and his sixth save—as the Expos beat the Reds 2-1.
Reliever Bruce Sutter of Chicago (2-4) also performed brilliantly. He earned his ninth and 10th saves with three scoreless innings that helped polish off the Dodgers 5-2 and the Padres 2-1.
There was no catching the first-place Pirates (2-4), who regrouped after 5-0 losses in San Diego and San Francisco to pull out a pair of 3-2 victories over the Giants. After Jim Bibby (5-0) and Kent Tekulve disposed of the Giants in one of those wins, Bill Madlock finished them off in the other with a 12th-inning single.
With Dick Ruthven fully recovered from off-season elbow surgery, Philadelphia (4-1) climbed from fourth to second. Ruthven helped himself with a two-run single as he beat the Reds 7-3 with late relief from Dick Noles and then went the distance for the first time since May 1979, in a five-hit, 3-0 defeat of the Astros. During Ruthven's first win of the week, Pete Rose stole second, third and home in one inning against his former team. Larry Christenson slugged a three-run homer—the Phillies' only four bagger of the week—while beating Houston 4-2.
"The club is flat," said Keith Hernandez of the Cardinals (1-5), whose only victory was a 2-1 gift from the Padres, one St. Louis run scoring on a bases-loaded walk and the other set up by a San Diego error. "Maybe I should throw things around in the clubhouse," said mild-mannered Manager Ken Boyer. For a change, George Hendrick also had something to say to the press. After botching a fly ball in rightfield, he admitted, "I probably should have caught it."
In between open dates and rainouts, the Mets (2-1) beat the Reds 7-6 and the Braves 5-3. Jerry Morales, who had been hitless in 28 plate appearances, singled across the deciding run against Cincinnati. In Atlanta, the New Yorkers got four-hit pitching from Pete Falcone and Neil Allen, who nailed down his sixth save, and three RBIs from John Stearns.
PITT 19-11 PHIL 15-13 CHI 15-15 MONT 15-15 ST.L 14-18 NY 11-18
Although 5'5" Harry Chappas was sent to the minors to make room for the return of Francisco Barrios, Bill Veeck of Chicago (3-3) wasn't caught short. For a pregame show, Veeck had White Sox Pitching Coach Ron Schueler throw a rubber ball to Hervè Villechaize, the 3'11" Tattoo of Fantasy Island. Tattoo swung—and missed—at only one of four pitches, but Veeck set off his exploding scoreboard anyway—as a tribute to a "fantasy" home run. Barrios, who hadn't pitched since last July and who underwent shoulder surgery in September, gave up three very real homers to the Brewers during his predetermined 60-pitch return. The White Sox retaliated with three home runs of their own and won 6-5 in the 10th on Thad Bosley's single. Britt Burns went five innings in relief to pick up the victory, and Ed Farmer got his ninth save. Burns then shut out the Mariners 4-0 on three hits, giving him a 5-2 record and a 1.36 ERA. After his pinch-hit, three-run double helped button down a 6-4 victory over the Brewers, Wayne Nordhagen admitted, "I didn't even see the pitch because it came out of the shirts in the bleachers."
Butch Wynegar of Minnesota (2-4) also had a lucky double, a checked-swing blooper in the ninth that gave the Twins their first win in 15 games in Boston since August 1977. Mike Marshall's frustrating spring continued: he incurred his third $100 fine for ignoring a club rule that requires neckties on road trips; he tied a team record with three wild pitches in one game; and his ERA soared to 9.00.
First-place Oakland (2-3) drubbed Toronto 12-1 before tangling with the Blue Jays in a weekend series (page 24).
Darrell Porter of Kansas City (3-3) continued his remarkable comeback, driving in 10 runs to give him 18 in 50 at bats this season. The designated hitter's spree was particularly helpful to Larry Gura. Porter had five RBIs as Gura coasted past the Yankees 12-3, and his 10th-inning single made Gura a 2-1 winner over the Angels. Having had just two days' rest, Renie Martin became an emergency starter when Paul Splittorff came down with a bad back. Martin warmed up for 10 minutes and then fired six innings of one-hit, one-run ball as Kansas City beat New York 4-1. Royal pitchers weren't nearly as effective in their next two outings, giving up 28 hits and 22 walks while losing to the Yankees 16-3 and the Angels 11-1. California (2-2) also battered Cleveland, 13-7, as Dave Skaggs drove in five runs the day after he was purchased from Baltimore. But the Angels' offense will have to get along for approximately six weeks without Don Baylor, who suffered a broken left wrist.
Dave Roberts of Texas (3-3), starting at third base because Buddy Bell had a pinched nerve in his back, hit a grand slam to defeat Baltimore 6-3. Doc Medich's improved curveball made the White Sox look sick in a 5-1 win, making him 13-5 since last June 24.
Dartmouth alumnus Jim Beattie of Seattle (3-2) expounded on the vagaries of pitching, by saying, "It's becoming increasingly clear to me that in order for one to be a winning pitcher, his team has to score more runs than the other guys." Beattie earned his first two triumphs as his teammates scored enough to beat the Indians 9-4 and the White Sox 4-2. Rick Honeycutt's winning streak ended at six games in a 4-0 loss to Chicago, but, following Glenn Abbott's five-hit, 7-0 triumph over the Blue Jays, the Mariners' record was still seven games better than it was at the same stage last year.
OAK 19-14 CHI 19-15 KC 17-15 TEX 17-15 SEA 17-18 CAL 13-18 MINN 14-20
Larry Hisle of Milwaukee (3-3), who spent five seasons in Minnesota, and who, after moving to the Brewers, missed most of last year because of a bum shoulder, was given the Forgotten Man Award by the Twin Cities' baseball writers. That same day Hisle gave them plenty to remember him by—two homers as the Brewers prevailed 14-11. For the week Hisle hit .412 and drove in 10 runs. Further punch came from Paul Molitor, who stole three bases, drilled four doubles and raised his average to a league-leading .375 by batting .478.
Tommy John, Ruppert Jones and Reggie Jackson boosted the Yanks (4-2) into the division lead. John ran his record to 7-0 by beating Minnesota 5-0 and Texas 6-2. Jones had three RBIs in each of John's starts and eight overall. Jackson hit his eighth homer and, during Tom Underwood's 3-0 win over the Rangers, drove in two runs.
Toronto (2-3) dropped back to second despite a spine-tingling 1-0 defeat of Seattle. In that game Bob Bailor stole three bases and Jim Clancy pitched a three-hitter.
By staying in shape, Reliever Tom Burgmeier, 36, of Boston (5-2) continued to bend hitters out of shape. Burgmeier, who runs from five to eight miles a day and frequently works out on a Nautilus, lengthened his hit-less streak to 9⅖ innings by retiring all 19 men he faced while recording two saves and a win. Fred Lynn hit for the cycle during a 10-5 conquest of the Twins, homered three times, drove in 10 runs and batted .545.
Dan Graham, a lefthanded-hitting catcher recently brought up from the minors, lifted Baltimore (2-3) out of the cellar with eight hits in 12 at bats, one of them a single that gave Mike Flanagan a 2-1 win in Detroit.
Another player just up from the bushes, Miguel Dilone, gave Cleveland its lone victory when he singled in the 10th to beat Boston 4-3. Two hitting streaks ended as the Indians fell into the basement: Jorge Orta's at 17 games and Mike Hargrove's at 23. Only a desperate manager could find reason to make a cleanup hitter of Toby Harrah, who was batting .217. But Cleveland skipper Dave Garcia was inspired to do so—because "Harrah has hit some long, hard foul balls lately."
Detroit (3-1) fans no longer can cheer for Mark Fidrych, who is in the minors, but following a 6-5 victory over Oakland they were dancing outside Tiger Stadium at 11 p.m. Touching off the celebration was the town's newest hero, Shortstop Alan Trammell, whose fourth hit of the game drove in two runs in the ninth for a 6-5 win. By hitting .500, Trammell raised his average to .365.
NY 19-12 TOR 17-13 BOS 17-16 MIL 15-15 DET 14-17 BALT 14-18 CLEV 12-18
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RANDY JONES: The San Diego lefty yielded only nine singles, did not give up a walk and lowered his ERA to 1.82 as he pitched his second and third straight shutouts, beating Pittsburgh on six hits and Chicago on three.