"Hoy-ya! Hoy-ya! Hoy-ya!" chanted Dave Rozema, waving a statue of a Polynesian war god over the Tigers' bat rack before a game against the Yankees. Pitchers can't win if batters don't give them runs, so after the Tigers (2-4) had batted .229 and scored just 13 runs while losing nine straight, the pitcher decided to try a bit of abracadabra. It didn't work; Detroit righthander Jack Morris took the loss, 3-2. Later, on the plane to Seattle, Rozema led everyone in a traditional gimme-a-T cheer. After all, he was pitching the next game himself. The Tiger bats produced just six hits and two runs but Rozema was looking out for himself. He held the Mariners to only two hits and no runs, and the losing streak was over. The next night the Tigers had seven doubles and as many runs to hand Seattle Pitcher Mike Parrott his 18th straight loss, one shy of the major league record.
Milwaukee (4-3) scored just six runs in three games with the Blue Jays, two of them losses. The Brewers went scoreless in a 14-inning game in which they got but three hits off five Toronto pitchers, and barely won a 12-inning game 4-3. "Hitting is the least of our worries," said Manager Buck Rodgers. It certainly wasn't in a subsequent 16-hit, 12-1 victory over California. What did worry the Brewers was losing Paul Molitor for a month because of a severely sprained ankle.
In their two wins over Milwaukee, the Jays (3-4) got two-run doubles from Barry Bonnell and Ken Macha, two home runs from Lloyd Moseby and one each from Jorge Bell and Willie Upshaw, and superb fielding from Moseby.
May 10, 1981
The Red Sox (0-7), in their worst slump since 1977, were outscored 50-8 (page 38). Cleveland (3-1) didn't have to worry about its hitting because the pitching was more than adequate. Having won nine of its last 11, the Indians were in first place by .048.
Ken Singleton's bat was about the only one the Orioles (5-2) needed. He had two singles, two doubles and the winning RBI in a 5-2 defeat of Chicago, the game-winning RBI in two other wins, and, after 18 games, a .514 on-base percentage, with 54 total bases in 60 at bats, and a .900 slugging percentage.
When Dave Winfield was in San Diego, he complained of having no players to support him. Now he's with the Yankees (5-2), a team loaded with stars. One of them hits just before the $20 Million Man in the batting order and plays to his left in the outfield. The player is none other than his former Padre teammate, Jerry Mumphrey. Last week Mumphrey outhit Winfield .385 to .308 and had two game-winning RBIs to Winfield's none. He has three homers for the year (Winfield got his first last week), including a 10th-inning blast that beat Oakland 3-2 in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader. He got another hit and scored a run in the second game, which the Yanks won 2-0, as he extended his hitting streak to 14 games—the Yankees' longest since Mickey Rivers' 17-game streak in 1978. And he costs George Steinbrenner just $250,000 a year.
CLEV 10-5 NY 13-8 MIL 11-8 BALT 9-9 DET 10-12 BOS 7-12 TOR 8-14
Things are seldom quiet when Billy Martin is around, and last week was no exception as Billy Ball became Billy Brawl. One set-to began after Danny Ford of the Angels homered and Oakland (3-4) Catcher Mike Heath, suspecting cork, grabbed at his bat. Atypical of bench-clearers, real punches were thrown. A second confrontation took place following the game between Martin and Angels Coach Tom Morgan with Morgan ending up in a Martin headlock. When the dust had cleared the A's had their first losing week but still led defending AL champion Kansas City by 10½ games. They surpassed their entire 1979 attendance with 319,099 in 11 home dates.
The Angels (3-4) beat Oakland twice in a row, the only team to have done so this year. Ken Forsch stopped the A's 3-2 on a three-hitter despite an Oakland triple play, and Steve Renko won his first start 3-1. The Mariners (2-4) beat Minnesota 8-3 in 10 innings and Detroit 3-1 as Floyd Bannister pitched seven strong innings in the first game and won the second. Richie Zisk, hitting .386 for the year, extended his batting streak to 15 games.
Minnesota (5-1) hadn't won two games back-to-back all season, but last week four different starters won consecutive games against Seattle and Boston. After Pete Redfern beat the Mariners 4-1, the Twins took four straight from the Red Sox, outscoring them 20-4 as Redfern picked up another win.
Arlington Stadium was The Best Little Scorehouse in Texas, and no one was enjoying it more than Manager Don Zimmer of the Rangers (5-2). Zim's hitters scored 24 runs in three games against the Sox, and the pitchers didn't allow one. The next game, against the Royals, was also a hit—actually, there were 10 of them, as well as seven runs, as the Rangers beat K.C., 7-0, for the first time in Arlington Stadium since 1979. The four shutouts were one shy of the American League record. Said Zimmer, "It's the best collection of pitchers I've ever managed."
After Thursday night's loss to the Rangers, Kansas City (2-2) Manager Jim Frey closed the clubhouse for 15 minutes and held a royal Freying. His players had blamed their 3-9 start on too many rainouts. "Hell, it's been raining in April since the beginning of time and for 100 years in baseball," said the usually mild-mannered Frey, who thought his talk had "a little pop to it." He was right. The next night Larry Gura shut out the Rangers 4-0 as George Brett, until then batting .208, went 4 for 5 to raise his average 56 points, and Amos Otis, who was batting .152, had two hits and drove in two runs. On Saturday the team got 10 hits and Dennis Leonard pitched his first complete game of the season, winning 7-2 on a five-hitter.
The White Sox (2-5) were hurting. Starters Carlton Fisk, Ron LeFlore and Jim Morrison were hobbled with leg injuries, and despite dazzling fielding by Second Baseman Tony Bernazard, they lost five games after winning six in a row.
OAK 20-5 CHI 12-8 TEX 11-9 CAL 11-13 MIN 9-12 KC 5-11 SEA 6-16
"Long ball, long ball. Who would've believed it?" said Manager Bobby Cox of Atlanta (2-4) after the Astros (5-1) had swept the Braves in three games and outhomered them 5-2 in their own ball park. "We stopped their running game, and now this," lamented Cox. "We're outhomering our opposition all to hell," said Astro Manager Bill Virdon of his normally light-hitting Astros. The Astros had 15 homers to their opponents' five. Craig Reynolds and Jose Cruz each hit three last week, while Denny Walling contributed two. In Pittsburgh, Houston won two of three.
Hordes of reporters searched for El Increíble before the game, but the Dodger pitcher was nowhere to be found. Fernando Valenzuela was taking a nap. He arose, and in less than three hours had his fourth shutout—5-0 over San Francisco. He also hit three singles and got the game-winning RBI in his second straight start, while dropping his ERA to 0.20 and upping his batting average to .438. On Sunday, against Montreal, he won No. 6, but allowed a run and lasted only nine innings in the team's 6-1, 10-inning victory. Deadpanned one TV commentator, "The Dodgers will have to put him in the bullpen until he works out his problems."
The Giants (3-3) won the other two games with the Dodgers, the first time since 1976 that they had taken a series in L.A. and the first time this year that the Dodgers had lost two in a row. Outfielder Bill North knows why the tables turned: The "new guys" don't have that "Dodger fear." One of them, Pitcher Allen Ripley, a Red Sox reject, retired the first 13 batters he faced and allowed only three hits, winning 6-1.
After losing three to the Reds, the Padres (2-5) found a team nearer their own size, splitting a four-game series with the Mets. In the Reds' sweep, Dave Concepcion hit .778, with two home runs, and batted in eight runs to take the league lead with 23 RBIs. But against the Cardinals, Cincinnati lost 7-6, 7-3 and 5-4. Bob Shirley continued his mastery of the Reds, beating them for the second time in two weeks and for the 12th time in his career. He has defeated no other team more than six times. "I don't know what it is with the Reds," said Shirley. "I don't like them. Maybe it's their low socks."
LA 16-6 CIN 11-10 ATL 11-11 SF 10-14 HOUS 9-13 SD 8-16
Cubs Pitcher Mike Krukow asked, "What is this—the World Series?" as dozens of reporters crowded into Manager Joe Amalfitano's office following a game. No, it wasn't the World Series, but the Cubs (2-2) had just won, for only the second time this season. After 12 consecutive defeats, they had beaten St. Louis 6-1 to end the Cardinals' eight-game winning streak and avoid tying the Cubs' 1944 record for consecutive losses. "We might be 2-13 said Krukow, "but this year it's fun to come to the ball park. Adversity is bringing us together."
Adversity had a different effect on the Cardinals last year; it drove them apart. This year, says Outfielder Tito Landrum, the clubhouse has "a certain electricity. The players are talking about baseball before a game and they're talking about baseball after a game." Enthusiasm comes easy when a team is winning, which the Cardinals (3-1) have been doing. St. Louis is in first place thanks in part to ex-Cub Bruce Sutter, who picked up his fifth save, and Third Baseman Ken Oberkfell, who drove in five runs on five hits in two of three wins over Cincinnati.
"When I went down to warm up, I was excited," Pitcher Steve Carlton told Phillie broadcaster Richie Ashburn. "I really wanted to strike out three guys." It took him just four minutes in the first inning—Expos Tim Raines, Jerry Manuel and Tim Wallach went down in order—and Carlton became the first lefthander—and sixth pitcher—in major league history to strike out 3,000. He got six more strikeouts—plus two hits and two RBIs—for his fourth win of the season as the Phils (4-2) took two of three from Montreal (2-4). In a 3-1 Phillie win Dick Ruthven held the Expos to just four hits on 97 pitches.
The Pirates (4-2) came into New York batting .211, having scored but 30 runs in 10 games. In three victories over the Mets they got 25 runs on 38 hits, including five doubles, six triples and three homers, to raise the team average to .239. Pirate pitchers held the Mets to just four runs in 27 innings to lower their ERA to 2.76.
It looked as if the Mets' (1-4) magic was gone. On Monday, Pitcher Craig Swan went on the disabled list with a fractured rib. The injury occurred the day before when Catcher Ron Hodges hit Swan while attempting to throw out a base stealer. "We played terrible," said Manager Joe Torre in understatement. Too true. His players had made 22 errors in 15 games. They snapped a seven-game losing streak on Saturday by beating San Diego 6-2, but then lost the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday on yet another two errors by Dave Kingman.
ST.L 12-3 MONT 13-6 PHIL 14-7 PITT 8-8 NY 6-12 CHI 3-15
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KEN SINGLETON: The Orioles' rightfielder had nine hits, including two homers, two doubles and six RBIs—two of them game-winners—as Baltimore won five. His .433 batting average is the highest in either league.