The Yankees (5-2) were both good and lucky. They beat the Red Sox 3-0 when Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage combined on a four-hitter, and got by Cleveland 4-3 when Ron Hassey's line drive struck Indian base runner Toby Harrah on the hip. Harrah, in fair territory about 30 feet down the third-base line, was automatically retired for the last out of the game. The second-place Orioles (3-3) were understandably cynical. "I wonder how they won this time," Reliever Tim Stoddard said the following night upon hearing that the Yankees had beaten Cleveland 5-4. "Fred Stanley probably batted for Reggie Jackson and hit a grand slam." Offered Pitcher Mike Flanagan, "Maybe they activated Yogi Berra and he went deep." Not so, insisted Coach Frank Robinson. "A strikeout pitch hit [Indian catcher] Gary Alexander on the head," he said, "and by the time [Centerfielder] Rick Manning ran it down, four runs scored." Actually, pinch hitter Eric Soderholm singled home two runs in the ninth.
Cleveland's play helped the Yankees open a 5½-game lead with seven left. After losing three of four to New York—Yankee-killer Rick Waits beat his patsies 5-0—the Indians (3-4) twice defeated Baltimore. Still, the Orioles had no one to blame but themselves. On two occasions Scott McGregor failed to win his 20th game. In his first attempt, a 5-3 loss to Boston, Baltimore wasted 12 hits, stranded 10 runners and grounded into three double plays. In the second, McGregor blew a 4-0 lead and lost 6-5 to Cleveland. Red Sox (3-3) play ranged from pitiful, two key errors costing them an 8-6 defeat at Baltimore, to near perfect, in Dennis Eckersley's one-hitter against Toronto.
The Blue Jays (2-4) avoided a 100-loss season for the first time in their four-year history when Lloyd Moseby's four hits beat Detroit 6-5. In another notable baseball first, a Tiger (3-3) home game was delayed 18 minutes because the umpires' underwear was still in the dryer. At times the Tigers played as if they, too, were all wet. In a 9-7 loss to Toronto, Detroit pitchers threw four wild pitches and walked in a run; Catcher Lance Parrish was guilty of a passed ball; and Third Baseman Stan Papi committed two errors.
As usual, Milwaukee had hitting. Cecil Cooper batted .500, and Ben Oglivie took over the league home-run lead, at 38, by clubbing an inside-the-park grand slam to beat Oakland 10-7. But, owing to typically weak relief pitching, the Brewers had a 2-4 week. In consecutive losses of 7-5 to Seattle and 7-3 to California, the bullpen gave up seven runs in 7⅖ innings.
NY 99-56 BALT 93-61 BOS 81-70 MIL 83-73 DET 79-75 CLEV 77-77 TOR 64-90
Despite being the first team to clinch a divisional title, Kansas City (0-6) was concerned. Going into the week, the Royals had won 69% of their games with George Brett in the lineup, but while he went 4 for 23 and slipped from .396 to .384, they went on a seven-game losing streak. Plainly, letting George do it won't get K.C. through the playoffs. "The biggest thing in my mind is getting the pitching staff organized and the players in the right frame of mind," said Manager Jim Frey. He was succeeding at neither. When Rich Gale was sidelined by an ailing right shoulder and his replacement, Renie Martin, gave up seven runs in 3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings against Seattle, Frey wondered where he'd get a fourth starter. The players, meanwhile, were worried about Frey's insistence on keeping starters in the lineup. "He wants to win every game," said a veteran. "That's impossible. Besides, you heed some rest after a long season."
Despite being the first team eliminated from a divisional race, Seattle (6-1) was elated. The Mariners extended their club-record winning streak to six by sweeping a three-game series with the Royals and beating Texas twice. The week's heroes were Glenn Abbott (two wins), Mike Parrott (two saves) and Willie Horton (three homers, his 1,990th hit and seven runs batted in).
Texas (1-6) could have used some tips from somebody. The Rangers' latest losing streak reached eight when the Mariners welcomed back Ferguson Jenkins from his controversial 14-day suspension by ripping him 7-2. The Texas and Seattle streaks ended when the Rangers beat the Mariners 7-3 as Al Oliver hit in his 16th straight game.
Ending another season on a misleading upswing, Minnesota (7-0) built an eight-game winning streak, moved into third and extended Manager John Goryl's tenure through 1981. The Twins had won 19 of 30 since Goryl replaced Gene Mauch on Aug. 25.
Chicago regained sole possession of fifth place with a 6-3 victory over California (3-3). The White Sox (3-4) more than earned it, getting four hits from Second Baseman Jim Morrison and a complete game from Rich Dotson. Earlier they accepted a 6-4 gift win from the A's (4-2), who yielded 10 walks and committed four errors.
KC 92-63 OAK 79-77 MINN 73-82 TEX 72-83 CHI 65-88 CAL 64-89 SEA 59-96
While the Phillies (5-2) and Expos (3-4) were fighting for the spoils (page 20), other clubs were being spoilers. St. Louis (5-2) took three out of five from Philadelphia, Montreal and Pittsburgh. But the Cardinals weren't exactly overcome with joy, not even Jim Kaat, whose 2,397th career strikeout lifted him past Sandy Koufax on the alltime list, nor Ted Simmons, whose grand slam and six RBIs whipped the Pirates 10-2. Said Kaat, "We shouldn't take much delight in being spoilers. If we'd played the kind of ball we're capable of, we'd be in contention ourselves." Added Simmons, "I'm looking forward to the September when I can have a big game that helps us win our division."
The Cubs (5-2) beat the Pirates twice and the Expos once. "It doesn't mean anything," said Pitcher Lynn McGlothen, a 5-4 victor over Montreal. "It was just as dead in our dugout today as it was in July. The ultimate goal is to win, and we've been awful." The Mets were worse than that—losing seven of seven, including their 13th straight one-run game, and falling to within half a game of last place.
Slipping down among the also-rans, the Pirates (3-4) began concentrating on individual goals. Omar Moreno said he would start swiping third as well as second to reach 100 steals—he had 93 at week's end. Moreno stole twice when the Pirates were trailing by six or more runs, outraging the Expos' Ron Le-Flore, who also had 93 swipes. "What Moreno did was stupid," he said. "It didn't show a great deal of dignity. He was running scared." So, however, was LeFlore, whose broken hand prevents him from doing anything but pinch run. "It's not a race anymore," he said sadly. "It's all Omar Moreno." But that was the only title the defending world champions are likely to win. Their attack was so enfeebled that Pirate pitchers were among the best hitters. John Candelaria went 2 for 4 in his 9-4 win over the Mets, and Rick Rhoden, who was batting .405, drove in two runs to help beat St. Louis 6-3.
PHIL 85-69 MONT 85-70 PITT 80-75 ST.L 72-83 NY 63-92 CHI 62-92
Though eliminated from the race, the Braves (3-4) didn't lose their enthusiasm. "We're the guillotine now," said Pitcher Preston Hanna, as Atlanta took the heads of Los Angeles 7-2 and Houston 4-2. In the Astro game, a crowd of 24,897 pushed Braves attendance over the one-million mark for the first time since 1971. As a result, every team in the league reached that figure in the same season for the first time.
San Diego (3-4) also had a record-setting week. Gene Richards established team marks in stolen bases (58) and hits (188), and Ozzie Smith broke the 56-year-old major league record for assists by a shortstop with his 602nd. Hoping to improve the team's won-lost record, Jack McKeon switched jobs, from assistant to general manager to director of baseball operations, and acknowledged that henceforth the Padres would build more from their farm system.
The only records Los Angeles (3-4) set were for futility. After 10 straight wins over the Giants (3-4), Burt Hooton lost to them, 3-2. Manager Tom Lasorda lost his composure and may have cost the Dodgers a game. With runners on first and second, one out and L.A. leading San Diego 2-1 in the seventh, Padre Manager Jerry Coleman brought in lefthanded Bob Shirley to face lefty batter Rudy Law. Lasorda's countermove was obvious: insert righthanded Pedro Guerrero. But when he saw that Guerrero didn't have his batting shoes on, Lasorda let Law hit. He grounded into a fielder's choice. In the ninth Lasorda had lefthanded Rick Monday pinch-hit for switch hitter Derrel Thomas against righthanded Rollie Fingers. Neither Thomas nor Monday liked the idea. Thomas was batting .298 against righthanders, and Monday said later that he'd rather hit with men on base. Monday flied out and the Dodgers lost 3-2 to fall two games back of the Astros (5-2) (page 24).
Giant Manager Dave Bristol was hoping Lasorda would fall on his face. "Good luck, John," he told the Reds' (4-3) John McNamara, "I hope you win it." Bristol paused and then added, "I told Bill Virdon [of the Astros] the same thing."
"You going to tell Lasorda the same thing?" McNamara wanted to know.
"Never in my bleeping life," said Bristol.
HOUS 89-66 LA 87-68 CIN 85-71 ATL 80-75 SF 73-82 SD 69-87
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
RICKEY HENDERSON: The A's leftfielder stole 12 bases, including four in each of two games, to equal Ty Cobb's American League season record of 96. A .290 hitter, Henderson also leads the AL in bases on balls, with 116.