Act 1: Yankee runners on second and third against the Tigers, Graig Nettles up, Rick Cerone on deck. Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson, aware that Nettles is hitting .423 with men in scoring position, has the pitcher walk him intentionally to get to Cerone, a .242 batter in these circumstances. Cerone singles to climax a five-run fifth that puts New York (4-2) in front 6-3. Act 2: Yankee runners on second and third in the seventh, Nettles up. Another intentional pass. Another single by Cerone. Act 3: Nettles receives his third deliberate walk. To break up the monotony—and the game—Cerone clouts a grand slam as the Yankees win 13-5. Encore: With two runners on in the seventh inning of a scoreless game against Toronto, an intentional walk to hot-hitting Bobby Brown brings Cerone to the plate. Cerone's two-run double starts Luis Tiant on his way to a 6-0 triumph.
Even though team RBI leader Ruppert Jones was lost for about six weeks after surgery to correct an intestinal blockage, the Yankees had ample thunder in their bats. Four home runs, the last by Reggie Jackson, led to an 8-6 victory over the Blue Jays. Reggie barred Toronto's comeback from a 5-0 deficit with a two-run blast in the 11th to make a winner of Rudy May, who pitched 4‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings of shutout relief.
Milwaukee's mug continued to run over with runs. Twelve hits were collected by both Cecil Cooper, who also had eight RBIs, and Paul Molitor, who moved to the top of the league hitting chart with a .366 average. A three-run homer by rookie Mark Brouhard gave Lary Sorensen a 3-2 win over the Twins and an 18-hit attack did in the Mariners 11-1. The Brewers (5-2) were at their frothy best in Boston, setting three club records as they got 22 hits—including eight doubles—while winning 19-8.
Boston (2-4) lost that wild contest despite slamming six homers, two by newcomer Dave Stapleton. Three of the shots came consecutively in a four-home-run explosion in the fourth inning. Another four-bagger, Carl Yastrzemski's two-run poke in the ninth, finished off Toronto 5-4.
Luis Leal, Lloyd Moseby and Garth Iorg, three youngsters fresh from the minors, helped the Blue Jays (3-3) win twice. Although he gave up 12 hits, Leal was a 9-6 winner over the Yankees, thanks to Moseby's single, double, homer and four RBIs. And Iorg stole home as Toronto won 4-1 in Boston. Two days earlier, the Blue Jays were within one out of a 1-0 loss to the Red Sox, but Damaso Garcia, Alfredo Griffin and Bob Bailor all singled to help pull out a 3-1 victory.
Clutch hitting and tight pitching gave the Indians (5-2) their best week of the season. Reliever Victor Cruz allowed only one hit in 3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings, winning when Tom Veryzer singled in the ninth to beat the Orioles 7-6 and then pitching the final two innings of John Denny's four-hit, 5-0 defeat of the Brewers. Denny had earlier struck out eight as he beat the Red Sox 3-2. A nine-strikeout performance by Dan Spillner and back-to-back homers by Cliff Johnson and Ron Hassey tripped Seattle 5-2.
A pair of four-RBI games by Eddie Murray and Rich Dauer helped the Orioles (3-3) stop the Indians 7-3 and the Twins 11-1. And a 10th-inning pinch home run by Terry Crowley downed Minnesota 3-2.
Detroit's best reliever ever, John Hiller, hung up his spikes. Hiller, 37, who had been shelled in recent outings, came back from a serious heart attack in 1971 to set a league record with 38 saves two years later. The current ace of the bullpen for the Tigers (3-3), Aurelio Lopez, picked up a win and a save. Five homers, two by Richie Hebner, propelled Detroit past California 12-1.
NY 28-16 MIL 23-20 TOR 22-21 BOS 22-23 BALT 22-24 CLEV 21-23 DET 19-25
Jeff Newman of the A's (4-2) is no Paul Newman, but last week he did some acting worthy of an Academy Award in a 6-3 victory over Kansas City (page 16). Newman was on first and Wayne Gross, another slowpoke, was on third in the first inning. Following scriptwriter Billy Martin's plot perfectly, Newman took a long lead and then, after a pitch, intentionally fell while returning to the bag. That set up the scenario Martin wanted: after Catcher John Wathan fired the ball to First Baseman Willie Aikens, Gross broke for the plate and Aikens forgot about Newman and pegged the ball back home. Gross beat the throw to score and Newman jumped up and lumbered to second. This was actually Oakland's second steal of home in the inning, Dwayne Murphy having scored on the front end of a less theatrical double stall in the continuing saga of what people are calling "Billy Baseball." Centerfielder Murphy, who batted .311, hit a two-run homer as Steve McCatty beat the Rangers 6-3 with a six-hitter and helped preserve Mike Norris' 4-3 victory in Texas by gunning down a runner at the plate. That was the sixth win for Norris, a figure equaled by Matt Keough when he limited the Royals to three hits while defeating them 4-1.
The Rangers (2-4) had other problems as well. Reliever Jim Kern, who was 13-5 last season, lost for the sixth time when California salvaged a 7-6 victory with a four-run eighth. Kern was victimized by Shortstop Pepe Frias, who let Jason Thompson score the decisive run from third base when he spiked the ball after making what he thought was the third out. When the Texans entered their clubhouse after that fiasco, they found it had been newly decorated with fried chicken, baked beans and macaroni. The man responsible for the dècor was enraged Manager Pat Corrales, who had been inspired by the spread on the postgame dinner table.
California (3-3) acquired Thompson from Detroit for Al Cowens in a bid for badly needed lefthanded punch. In his first at bat as an Angel, Thompson drilled a three-run pinch double in that 7-6 victory. Another new hand, DH Dickie Thon, had five hits the same night. California pitchers tossed a pair of four-hitters, Don Aase beating Texas 2-0 and Bruce Kison and Dave LaRoche combining to stop Detroit 6-1.
Julio Cruz of the Mariners (2-4) stole five bases and topped off the week with a 10th-inning homer to down the Indians 4-3. After Floyd Bannister had struck out 11 White Sox while winning 8-3, Chicago's Alan Bannister (no relation) said of his 0-for-3 batting, "I stink." A day later, though, Bannister banged out three hits as the White Sox (2-5) defeated the Twins 6-3. Wayne Nordhagen, who had said the Sox would be more exciting if he played more, connected for a two-run homer to give Britt Burns a 2-0 victory over Minnesota.
Ken Landreaux of the Twins (2-5) extended his hitting streak to 31 games before going 0 for 4 against Baltimore. The streak was the longest in the league since DiMaggio's—Dom DiMaggio's—34-gamer in 1949.
KC 27-18 OAK 25-21 CHI 24-23 SEA 23-24 TEX 22-23 CAL 19-25 MINN 18-29
With Larry Christenson on the 60-day disabled list following elbow surgery and with Randy Lerch in the bullpen after going 0-6 as a starter, Philadelphia Manager Dallas Green had to make do with a "patchwork rotation." Fortunately for the Phillies (4-3), Steve Carlton continued to excel, stopping the Cubs 7-0 for his ninth victory. After Carlton had fanned 11 batters in seven innings, Green yanked him to try to keep his arm strong for an anticipated stretch drive. It helped, too, that Lerch, after 10 days in the bullpen, went eight strong innings as a starter and finally won, 6-3, over the Pirates. Mike Schmidt clubbed a two-run homer in that game and set up a 7-6 defeat of Pittsburgh by leading off the ninth with a double. Larry Bowa concluded the two-run rally with a single. Pete Rose hit .400 and had four doubles, and Schmidt had a five-homer, 10-RBI week. That gave Schmidt 16 four-baggers and 41 RBIs, both tops in the majors.
Pittsburgh (3-4) clung to a one-game lead with the aid of Mike Easler's pinch single in the 13th that knocked off second-place Philadelphia 3-2. Bert Blyleven finally notched his first victory, whitewashing the Mets 5-0 on seven hits.
Ellis Valentine of the Expos (3-2) was shelved for at least two weeks after a pitch shattered his cheekbone. Keeping Montreal going were the pitching of Steve Rogers, who blanked Chicago 4-0, and the hitting of Chris Speier, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter. Speier, who had been out for almost a month with back spasms, hit .526, Dawson .461 and Carter .440. Carter also drove in 10 runs and unloaded five homers, one inside the park when two Cardinal outfielders collided, allowing the ball to roll to the wall.
Despite the foul-up, St. Louis (2-3) won the game 8-6 after a pep talk from 80-year-old owner Gussie Busch. The Cardinals, who have been playing more like bushers than Buschers, used their No. 1 starting pitcher, Pete Vuckovich, in relief for the last four innings to seal the victory. Earlier, they had ended a 10-game losing streak by holding off the Mets 8-5 as Bob Forsch hurled an inelegant 13-hitter. George Hendrick homered twice in that game and finished with four home runs and 10 RBIs.
New York (4-2) pulled four games ahead—of last-place St. Louis. A six-run eighth overcame a 5-0 Cardinal lead, and Neil Allen made the 6-5 margin stand up as he got his ninth save. Craig Swan's 3-0, three-hit victory over Atlanta and Pat Zachry's 5-1 win in Pittsburgh also gave the Mets a boost. So did .473 hitting by John Stearns, whose two doubles gave him a major-league-leading 17.
Chicago (3-2) made the most of long-awaited home runs and daring base running. A fence-clearing drive by Ivan DeJesus, the first by a Cub in 90 innings, led to a 4-2 triumph over the Expos. "Even a blind squirrel stumbles over an acorn," was Tim Blackwell's way of saying he was just plain nuts about his first homer in the majors after 563 at bats. That smash, plus another by Mike Vail, who hit .435, led the Cubs past the Phillies 10-7. "I'm a thief," said Lenny Randle after he set up a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers with some nifty base running. With two out and two on in the bottom of the ninth and LA leading 1-0, Randle scooted from first to second on a fly to short left. Then, when Shortstop Bill Russell fielded a grounder and made a wide throw to first, Blackwell scored from third and Randle barreled all the way home for a 2-1 Cub victory.
PITT 25-18 PHIL 23-18 MONT 21-19 CHI 19-21 NY 19-23 ST.L 16-28
American League skippers found it unwise to intentionally walk Yankees batting ahead of Rick Cerone, but Manager Jerry Coleman of San Diego (2-5) found it equally disastrous when his pitchers talked him out of issuing some free passes. Rollie Fingers twice persuaded Coleman to let him pitch to hitters instead of walking them, and both delivered run-scoring singles. Randy Jones also got Coleman to change his mind and then served up a two-run homer. The Padres ended a five-game losing streak by beating the Reds 7-5. Kurt Bevacqua, who is 9 for 23 with six RBIs as a pinch hitter, knotted the score at 5-5 with a pinch single, and the Padres added two more runs to win.
It should have been hard to improve upon the 4-0 four-hitter that Jerry Reuss of the Dodgers (3-3) threw against the Reds. But later in the week Bob Welch did it, beating the Braves 3-0 on a one-hitter. With his fastball at its blazing best, Welch resorted to smoke on 87 of his 95 pitches. Bill Russell, who was in a woeful slump earlier in the year, raised his average to .323 with a .440 week.
Johnny Bench of the Reds (4-3) had only five hits, but four were homers that drove in eight runs. Three of Bench's blasts came during a 5-3 conquest of the Padres. Three more Cincinnati home runs—consecutive shots by Ken Griffey, George Foster and Dan Driessen—took care of Los Angeles 6-1. And Foster grand-slammed Cincinnati past the Dodgers 5-4.
Superb pitching enabled the Astros (4-2) to make up for the absence of Cesar Cedeno, who had bronchitis. J.R. Richard, who had been bothered by a sore back in some recent outings, stopped the Padres 4-1 and three-hit the Giants in a 5-0 win. Best of all, however, was Nolan Ryan's two-hit, 1-0 triumph over San Diego.
Vida Blue of the Giants (2-4) also gave batters fits, improving his record to 8-2 as he beat the Pirates 5-2 and then contained the Astros 3-2 on five hits. A two-run homer by Darrell Evans helped Blue in his first game, and a squeeze bunt by Johnnie LeMaster settled the other. But the Giants lost 6-3 in Atlanta despite getting five doubles and a home run while outhitting the Braves 12-9. Larvell Blanks of the Braves (4-3) added to the Giants' frustrations, driving across two runs in the eighth in a 2-1 victory and then scoring in the 12th on a hit by Chris Chambliss for a 3-2 win two days later. Tommy Boggs won his first two games and Reliever Gene Garber picked up his first two saves, each by retiring the only batter he faced.
LA 28-18 HOUS 25-19 CIN 26-20 SD 23-24 SF 19-27 ATL 17-26
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CLIFF JOHNSON: Cleveland's designated hitter homered three times, drove in eight runs and batted .500. One of his round-trippers was a three-run pinch-hit drive in the eighth inning that knocked off Boston 3-2.