"There's no drama to it," said Dennis Leonard of Kansas City (5-2) about the team's whopping 19-game lead. With the drama gone, the Royals continued to pad their personal stats. Leonard's two wins made him 16-8. Willie Wilson's four steals brought him to 56. Nine RBIs by Hal McRae gave him a total of 66, and his .393 week put him over .300. at .313, to be precise. George Brett supplied his own special drama, batting .484 to hang in there in the .400 chase at .406. As usual, Brett pummeled Ed Figueroa of Texas, a double and homer bringing his six-year average against Figgy to .628.
When the Rangers (5-2) went to Toronto, customs officers said there were drugs in Ferguson Jenkins' suitcase; they charged him with possession of marijuana, cocaine and hashish. His trial was set for Dec. 18. Charlie Hough, normally a reliever, didn't know he would start against the Blue Jays until he got to the park and then he hurled the first shutout of his 11-year career, winning 8-0. Dave Rajsich was another reliever who went a long way. After Jenkins was bombed for five first-inning runs in Kansas City, Rajsich went the last 8⅖ innings and won 10-6. Texas beat the Royals 7-5 when Mickey Rivers got the last of his nine RBIs for the week with a single in the 11th. The team's main run producer all season. Al Oliver, had a two-run double that night to become the first in either league to reach 100 RBIs.
All the other Western teams had losing records, and Chicago (1-4) had the worst. Lamar Johnson drove in all the runs in the only Sox victory, a 3-2, 14-inning win over Detroit.
September 7, 1980
Crowds of 49.300 and 32.146 increased attendance in Oakland (2-4) to 757,611, almost 500,000 more than for all of last year. Mike Norris (18-7) beat the Yankees 9-1 in one of those games and cut his ERA to 2.21. Rick Langford stopped New York 3-1.
Johnny Goryl replaced Gene Mauch as manager at Minnesota (3-4). Dave Edwards singled in the go-ahead run in the 15th as the Twins downed the Blue Jays 7-5, and then Geoff Zahn beat the Jays 5-2.
California and Seattle (both 2-4) ganged up on Baltimore. The Angels defeated the Orioles 5-0 behind Freddie Martinez and 12-6 as Rick Miller had four RBIs. A six-run first propelled the Mariners past the Birds 10-5, and Floyd Bannister won 2-1 the next night, thanks to Bruce Bochte's ninth-inning homer.
KC 84-46 OAK 65-65 TEX 64-65 MINN 57-74 CHI 53-72 CAL 51-76 SEA 46-82
"There's nothing like being in a pennant race." said Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox (6-0), who climbed to within 7½ games of first. And there's nothing like clutch hits and tidy relief work to get a team there. Jim Rice settled a pair of extra-inning games. After his two-run double in the 11th defeated California 4-2. Rice's homer ignited a four-run last of the ninth against Oakland. Glenn Hoffman concluded that rally with a two-run triple, and Rice won the game 7-6 with another homer in the 10th. The bullpen excelled: Bill Campbell won twice and gave up only one run in seven innings; Bob Stanley, who yielded one hit in 4⅖ innings, got a win and two saves; and Tom Burgmeier allowed one run in 4⅖ innings while picking up a win and his 19th save. But Fred Lynn was lost for at least 10 days because of a broken right big toe, and Yaz, who hit three homers, partially fractured a rib when he crashed into the leftfield wall while making a spectacular catch.
Centerfielder Ruppert Jones of the Yankees (4-2) was also injured when he crashed into a fence in Oakland, but his prognosis was much worse: a severe concussion and separated shoulder probably will keep him out the rest of the year. Lou Piniella's .500 batting and five doubles put some much-needed oomph into the attack.
Baltimore (2-4) fell 2½ games behind New York. Except for a 13-8 triumph over the Angels, in which the Orioles set one club record with 26 hits and tied another with eight doubles, the offense floated like a bee and stung like a butterfly. Except for Mike Flanagan's 3-0 win in Oakland, the pitching was shoddy. Two starters failed to last an inning, and Reliever Tim Stoddard, who hadn't given up a home run in 75‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings dating back to June 1979, yielded two in the same inning.
A series of scoreless relief efforts enabled the Tigers and Indians (both 4-2) to move up to a tie for fourth. Six innings of two-hit relief by Aurelio Lopez of Detroit made him a 5-4 victor over Chicago, and Paul Underwood's three-inning stint preserved an 11-7 win over Milwaukee. Righthander Victor Cruz and lefthander Sid Monge threw zeros for Cleveland. Cruz locked up three wins with 5⅖ innings of runless ball, giving him nine saves and a 1.50 ERA since the All-Star break. Monge, who is 2.31 with six saves over that period, worked 3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® shutout innings and, like Cruz, preserved a victory for Dan Spillner. Len Barker's eight Strikeouts during a 4-1 defeat of Minnesota left him with a league-leading 139 Ks and a 16-8 record. Miguel Dilone topped off his .423 hitting with a two-run double in the eighth that beat Chicago 6-5.
Six straight losses dropped Milwaukee (1-6) from third all the way to sixth. In one game, the Brewers stranded 18 runners, two short of the league mark. However, two homers by Cecil Cooper carried Moose Haas (15-11) past Detroit 6-4.
When Roy Howell homered in the ninth and Steve Braun added a pinch RBI single to defeat the Twins 3-2, the Blue Jays (3-4) had their 53rd victory. That's not sensational, but it equaled their 1979 total.
NY 78-50 BALT 75-52 BOS 69-56 DET 67-60 CLEV 67-60 MIL 68-64 TOR 53-75
Montreal, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were bunched together at the top. The Expos (2-3), who led the Pirates by one percentage point and the Phillies by half a game, hit nary a homer. But Warren Cromartie's pinch single produced the decisive run in a 12-9 victory over the Padres, who had led 9-2 in the sixth. Steve Rogers stopped San Francisco 3-1 for his first triumph in nearly six weeks. Montreal's 5-4 and 4-3 defeats in L.A. made it nine losses in a row to the Dodgers, six by one run. Nevertheless, the Expos moved into first at the end of a three-day stretch during which they didn't score: they had a 1-0 loss to the Giants between two days off. A six-game losing streak by the Pirates (1-6) made it possible for the Expos to go ahead. Only a five-hit, 5-2 victory in Cincinnati by John Candelaria averted an all-losing week. Last season the Pirates had a knack for winning late, but this year they have been outscored 161-117 in the final three innings.
Tug McGraw of the Phillies (4-3) atoned for a costly gaffe against the Dodgers—he allowed a hit while attempting an intentional walk—with his 14th and 15th saves. McGraw sealed a 4-3 triumph over Los Angeles with a runless ninth that made Steve Carlton the league's first 20-game winner. Two days later, McGraw gave up just one hit in 2⅖ innings to clinch a 3-2 decision in San Diego. Doubles are Pete Rose's specialty, and three of them gave him 36, tops in the league.
It took a seven-run sixth for the Mets (1-4) to salvage their lone win, 9-5 over the Giants. Dane Iorg and Ken Oberkfell provided unexpectedly hard hitting for the Cardinals (4-3), both batting .500. The seldom-used Iorg also had nine RBIs, seven as Atlanta went down 11-2. Additional surprises came from John Martin and Don Hood. Martin made his big-league debut with seven innings of one-run relief to become a 10-2 winner over Houston. Hood doubled his victory total by stopping the Astros 3-1 and the Braves 5-3. But the most unexpected event was Red Schoendienst taking over as the Cardinals' interim manager for Whitey Herzog, who had a 38-35 record before becoming general manager.
Rick Reuschel of the Cubs (1-5) says he can't stand the August heat, but the truth is that opposing hitters can't stand him. A 4-2 win over Cincinnati left Reuschel 5-0, with a 2.11 ERA for the month. In the three previous Augusts the big righthander was also hot stuff, going 4-2, 4-2 and 7-0.
MONT 69-59 PITT 70-60 PHIL 68-59 NY 59-69 ST.L 57-70 CHI 50-77
First-place Houston (5-2) continued to prove that little things mean a lot. Like making only four errors all week. Like yielding a mere 2.3 walks per game. Three wins in Chicago ex-, tended Houston's string of victories over the Cubs to 13. Two of those decisions went to low-profile pitchers: Vern Ruhle, who threw a five-hitter to win 2-0, and Joaquin Andujar, who won 4-1 after Joe Sambito went the final three innings for his 13th save. Nolan Ryan's two-hitter beat Chicago 3-1. Cesar Cedeno hit Houston's first grand slam in three years, to help defeat St. Louis 7-2.
"I'm getting back the feel," said George Foster after homering twice, getting seven hits and driving across nine runs as Cincinnati (4-2) took three games in Pittsburgh. Six of Foster's RBIs came as the Reds fought back from a 5-0 deficit to an 8-7 triumph over the Pirates. Paul Moskau blanked Pittsburgh 4-0 and Tom Seaver slapped a two-run double as he held off the Bucs 5-3.
Joe Ferguson of the Dodgers (5-1) turned what was supposed to be an intentional walk into a two-run single when the Phillies' McGraw got a pitch too close to the plate. Ferguson's hit finished off an 8-4 win for Los Angeles. Dusty Baker and Rick Monday also came through, setting up Burt Hooton's 3-2 win in New York with homers. Amid the roses, however, were thorns that may impair the Dodgers' stretch drive. Reggie Smith is out for the season after surgery on his right shoulder. Pedro Guerrero went on the disabled list with a partially torn ligament in his left knee. Don Sutton has a fractured big toe. And Steve Yeager was out with a bone chip in the middle finger of his right hand.
The bad news for San Diego (3-3) was that a damaged nerve in Randy Jones' pitching shoulder, which jeopardizes his career, is inoperable. Rollie Fingers and Gene Tenace said they were fed up with Jerry Coleman's managerial boo-boos and asked to be traded. "Maybe if some of my players get mad enough at me they'll start playing better," Coleman said. Mad or not, Jerry Mumphrey hit .429 and Luis Salazar .400. After John Curtis downed Philadelphia 5-1 on a four-hitter in the nightcap of a doublcheader, he explained his success by saying, "Hitters usually go for the first pitch in the second game. I was getting the first pitch over with something on it."
"The days are gone when a team looks forward to the Braves coming to town," said Dave Parker of the Pirates, after Pittsburgh lost three straight to Atlanta (5-2). The Braves' once-mediocre bullpen gained new respect as Preston Hanna, Larry Bradford, Gene Garber, Al Hrabosky and Rick Camp all either won or saved games. On offense, Bruce Benedict had four hits and three RBIs during a 10-5 romp over St. Louis. Dale Murphy's four RBIs stopped Pittsburgh 8-6. Gary Matthews' fourth hit and second homer of the night led to a 4-2 defeat of the Bucs. And Bob Horner's 28th homer and five RBIs knocked off the Pirates 7-4.
HOUS 74-55 LA 71-57 CIN 70-59 SF 64-64 ATL 64-65 SD 54-76
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DICK RUTHVEN: While beating the Giants 7-1 and the Padres 6-1, the Phillie righthander improved his record to 13-8. He issued only one base on balls and helped himself with a single, double, triple and three RBIs.