"The game's not over until it's over." As Yogi Berra, the man given credit for that profound statement, stood in the Yankee Stadium dugout and watched a game between New York (4-2) and Toronto (2-4), Earl Weaver sat in his office in Baltimore listening to a radio broadcast of the same game. His Orioles (4-2), six games behind the Yankees, needed help from the Jays, who were leading 5-3 with two outs in the top of the 10th when the game was suspended by rain. Weaver drove home with a smile on his face. Surely, he thought, Toronto would hold its lead when play resumed the following evening. In fact, the Blue Jays added two more runs for a 7-3 advantage, but before Toronto could get three outs in the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees scored four times and finally won the game 13 innings and 25 hours after it had started. Weaver did get help when the Jays won the scheduled game, 2-1, on a two-hitter by Luis Leal and again on the weekend, when they lost twice to the Orioles. When the Yanks finally lost to Boston, 4-1 on Saturday, after having beaten them eight straight times, the O's were within four.
Red Sox (3-3) fans cheered their spectacular rookie Second Baseman Dave Stapleton, who doubled twice and singled three times in a 5-for-5 performance that helped beat the Indians 9-5. For the week, he went 13 for 27, including four doubles, to raise his average to .324.
Lary Sorensen of the Brewers (5-2) beat the Twins 5-0 on a six-hitter and Bob McClure won his third game in four starts—4-0 over Seattle—since he ended his string of 212 consecutive relief appearances on Sept. 1.
September 28, 1980
Miguel Dilone of the Indians (3-4), batting .343, stole his 55th base, a club record. Steve Kemp of Detroit (3-4) had three hits, including a home run, and four RBIs in an 8-3 victory over Baltimore on Tuesday. He threw out a runner at the plate to preserve a win over Cleveland on Friday, and he hit a grand slam and a triple to drive in six runs, as the Tigers beat Cleveland 13-3 on Saturday.
NY 94-54 BALT 90-58 MIL 81-69 BOS 78-67 DET 76-72 CLEV 74-73 TOR 62-86
It didn't look like much of a celebration. Oh, sure, there was the perfunctory champagne, but when the Royals (4-2) clinched the division title, the mood in the clubhouse was subdued. They had been there before, three times in four years, only to lose to the Yankees in the playoffs. "Nobody's going to get super-psyched until we win the pennant," said Catcher Darrell Porter. The Royals wrapped up the title in the opener of a doubleheader with California. The defending-champion Angels, in sixth place, 30 games back, won the second game 7-4, despite the return of George Brett, who briefly lifted his average to .401 before falling back to .396 at week's end.
The Angels (4-2) beat Texas three times, and that wasn't the only bad news for the Rangers (2-5). "We've got nine guys who just do their own thing," complained Centerfielder Mickey Rivers. "Some days we just step on the field and know we're going to lose." Rivers has done his part, though. He set a club record for hits—204—while raising his batting average to .331, his highest ever.
Every manager should have a player like Mickey Klutts. Losing 2-0 with a man on in the top of the ninth against Texas, Manager Billy Martin of the A's (3-4) instructed Klutts to "take it out of here." "O.K.," answered the dutiful third baseman. "I always say, 'O.K.,' " he told reporters afterward. True to his word, Klutts hit a slider over the fence to send the game into extra innings. The A's won 4-2 in the 11th to give Mike Norris his 20th win and his 21st complete game.
Before a 20-minute power failure put the lights out at Milwaukee County Stadium, Jerry Koosman of the Twins (4-2) had given up two runs and five hits in the first 3½ innings of the game. Under cover of darkness, Koos searched for his fastball and evidently found it. After play resumed, he struck out five while allowing no runs and only three more hits en route to a 3-2 defeat of the Brewers. In the second game of the doubleheader, Rob Wilfong got his first major league grand slam to help complete the sweep, 6-1. But the Twins lost a pair to Milwaukee the following day, even though rookie Gary Ward hit for the cycle in the first game.
The White Sox (2-4) beat only Seattle, 2-1 and 5-4, Chet Lemon scoring the winning run in both victories.
"There's a cancer on the club, and it's at work full force," said Manager Maury Wills of the Mariners (2-5). Wills said he planned to cure the disease—as many as 10 players who he said have a "la-di-da" attitude—by the start of next season. Player reaction was anything but benign. Infielder Bill Stein, one of those accused, bristled, "He asked me how my hand was. It's my back that's hurt. He doesn't even know what's wrong with me."
KC 92-57 OAK 75-75 TEX 71-77 MINN 66-82 CHI 62-84 CAL 61-86 SEA 53-95
"This is the reason you do those two extra pushups in spring training, so you can be in top shape for the last few weeks when the pressure is great," said Astro Second Baseman Joe Morgan, a veteran of five divisional championships with the Reds. And the pressure was great. For the second straight week, the Astros (3-4) and Dodgers remained tied for first place, while Cincinnati closed to within 3½ games. Morgan helped beat his former teammates with a two-run homer and the game-winning RBI in a 10-2 romp at Riverfront Stadium after the Reds had won the day before. Houston also lost to last-place San Diego 6-3 and 4-3, and to fifth-place San Francisco 4-3. When Joaquin Andujar lost to the Giants 4-3, despite allowing only one earned run on three hits, he simply said, "That's baseball."
The Padres (4-3) weren't lying down for anyone; they beat Houston and Atlanta twice each and won their ninth straight at home. "We know we're in last place, but we still want to win," said Leftfielder Gene Richards.
The Dodgers (3-4) began the week by completing a three-game sweep of the Reds at Riverfront Stadium. Jerry Reuss, who was 11-1 against pennant contenders this season and 4-0 against the Reds, pitched a five-hitter to win 3-1. But back home, the Dodgers lost to the Reds twice, as Reuss was bombed for eight runs in two innings in one game and Tom Seaver beat L.A. 10-2 in the other. In a 2-1 victory over the Padres, rookie Steve Howe earned his 17th save, and rookie Infielder Jack Perconte, making his first major league start, walked, stole second, scored a run and drove in the game-winner with a bunt single. "The kids have made the difference this year," said Don Sutton. "They come here confident, almost arrogant, but not cocky and not unwilling to learn."
The Reds (4-3) got grand slams from Johnny Bench, who hit his second of the season against the Dodgers, and Ray Knight. "I love being in a situation where you're either a hero or a goat," said Knight.
Speaking of goats, Rennie Stennett of the Giants (3-4) blamed Manager Dave Bristol for his team's deficiencies. "He's a big phony," said the second baseman. "He's jealous of the money I'm making, because he never did anything as a player." Stennett, who has a bad leg and a $3 million contract, is batting .246 and has been pitiful in the pivot.
The Atlanta Braves (4-3) kept their slim title hopes alive, as Jerry Royster got 11 hits in 14 at bats and stroked the game-winning RBIs in a 4-3 win over the Padres and a 2-1 defeat of L.A. Other Brave heroes were: Rick Camp, who won one game and got two saves; Chris Chambliss, who got a two-run homer to beat San Francisco 2-1; and Phil Niekro, who won his seventh straight game in his 500th major league start. "I guarantee you, everyone on this club thinks we still have a shot at first," said Neikro.
HOUS 84-64 LA 84-64 CIN 81-68 ATL 77-71 SF 70-78 SD 66-83
Mookie and Wally may sound like a couple of characters in Leave It to Beaver, but actually they're the new one-two punch of the Mets (3-3). "The kids," as 25-year-old veteran Lee Mazzilli calls them, are Walter Wayne (Wally) Backman and William Hayward (Mookie) Wilson. (One story has it that Mookie got his nickname from his grandmother because he couldn't say "milk.") In 17 games since coming up from the minors on Sept. 2, Wally has hit .339 with nine RBIs and Mookie is batting .296 with four doubles, three triples, five stolen bases and 13 runs. In the Mets' three wins last week—against the Cubs, Expos and Pirates—Wilson and Backman got 15 hits, including two doubles and two triples, and scored 11 runs.
In losing to the Mets, the Pirates (2-3) looked as sickly as their ace reliever, Kent Tekulve, who has lost 10 pounds from his skinny—usually 170-pound—6'4" frame because of a virus. Jim Bibby, 17-5, beat the Phils 3-2, allowing only two hits in eight innings. "He's been their Steve Carlton all year," said Manager Dallas Green of the Phillies (3-2). Green's own Steve Carlton worked the following evening but needed relief from Tug McGraw, who got his second win of the year, both against Pittsburgh. McGraw called himself the Pirate MVP last year, because his ERA against Pittsburgh was 12.00. Rookie Marty Bystrom won twice and is now 3-0.
The Expos' prize rookie, Bill Gullickson, tossed a three-hitter to beat the Pirates 4-0. Gullickson, a diabetic, began to feel dizzy during the second inning of the game in Montreal, but a candy bar, a soft drink and bites of a sandwich gave him strength to continue. "From then on, it was the Pirates who were dizzy," said Montreal (4-2) Manager Dick Williams as Gullickson won his third game.
The Cardinals (3-3) beat the Cubs (2-4) twice at Wrigley Field. Cubs Manager Joey Amalfitano used 20 players in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia but complained afterward that he had only one non-pitcher left. Of course, he would have had more had the Cubs expanded their roster to 40 men on Sept. 1 as the rules allow. Maybe the Cubs are short of funds, which might explain why owner William Wrigley raised the wholesale price of some of its chewing gum on Sept. 2.
MONT 82-66 PHIL 80-67 PITT 77-71 ST.L 67-81 NY 63-85 CHI 57-90
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GARY WARD: On Sept. 14, a day after being called up from the minors, the Minnesota leftfielder singled, doubled and tripled. Then, in his fourth major league game, he hit for the cycle. For the week Ward, 26, batted .615.