"I owe my life to the Cleveland Indians," said Tim McKimson, 19, of Chicago. McKimson suffered a broken nose and lost two teeth when, he says, he and two friends were attacked by three youths near Comiskey Park. At the time, the Indians' bus was on the way to the team hotel after a game. Pitching Coach Dave Duncan spotted the fracas and hollered, "Hurry up, Bussie." McKimson "thought it was all over," but the Indians came to his rescue. Inside Comiskey, Cleveland (5-2) beat the White Sox twice—3-1 as Bert Blyleven pitched a four-hitter and 4-3 when Jorge Orta homered in the 16th inning. The Tribe downed Toronto twice on Sunday, Rick Waits winning 1-0 and Blyleven 2-1.
The Red Sox (4-3) downed the Blue Jays 7-6 as Rick Miller chipped in with five hits, including a major league record-tying four doubles. It may have been Miller time, but the winning hit was delivered in the ninth by Gary Allenson, who picked up his fifth RBI of the day. The Allenson Wonderland saga ended abruptly, however, when Gary was put on the disabled list after the game because of a torn ligament. Boston pitchers gave up back-to-back homers in three losses.
When asked if he felt his lengthy talk to the Brewers (3-3) at a team meeting had been effective, General Manager Harry Dalton said, "The father of the baby always thinks it's pretty." Dalton's babes then beat the A's three times, 3-0, 6-5 and 6-2.
May 24, 1981
Tight pitching buoyed the Tigers (4-1), Blue Jays (2-6) and Orioles (5-1). Detroit stopped Seattle 6-2 behind Milt Wilcox's five-hitter and 1-0 as Dan Petry gave up only three hits. Toronto's nifty mound work was begun by Dave Stieb, whose four-hitter stymied Baltimore 5-2. Jackson Todd then beat Cleveland 4-1. Baltimore had three shutouts: Scott McGregor's three-hitter took care of Toronto 4-0; Mike Flanagan's five-hitter stopped the Blue Jays 10-0; and Dave Ford went seven innings in relief of sore-armed Steve Stone for a 7-0 victory in Minnesota. "I don't think I should start anymore," Jim Palmer said after being knocked out in the fifth inning of a 5-2 loss to Toronto. "I can pitch three or four innings fine, but that's all." Palmer, who pitched just four complete games last season, suggested he be put in the bullpen. But Manager Earl Weaver ignored the suggestion, and on Sunday Palmer went 7⅖ innings to beat the Twins 6-3. Baltimore also benefited from the 20 doubles banged out last week by Oriole batters.
New York (3-2) had some big boppers of its own. Reggie Jackson had seven RBIs; Aurelio Rodriguez homered on his first two swings of the season; and Bobby Murcer's five ribbies on seven hits gave him 10 runs batted in on 13 hits thus far. Reliever Goose Gossage continued to be overpowering, picking up his ninth and 10th saves and first win as he struck out 10 in 5‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings.
CLEV 18-9 BALT 19-11 NY 19-14 MIL 17-15 BOS 16-16 DET 16-17 TOR 11-24
In 30 starts last season, Rick Honeycutt's Mariner teammates supported him with a scant 65 runs. Understandably, Honeycutt savors the offensive backing he's had since joining the Rangers (3-3), who have scored 34 runs for him in six starts. The latest outburst on his behalf led to a 9-1 triumph over the Royals and was triggered by Bump Wills, who had three hits in that game and batted .435 for the week. With lefthander Paul Splittorff pitching for Kansas City, Texas Manager Don Zimmer was expected to use Bill Stein, a righthanded batter with a .452 average, at first base in place of Pat Putnam, a slumping lefty swinger who was 6 for 40 against southpaws. Zimmer, though, went with Putnam, who homered in the eighth for a 3-2 victory, the Rangers' seventh straight against southpaws.
Britt Burns of Chicago (3-3) put an end to Texas' mauling of portsiders, at least temporarily, when he sidetracked the Rangers 9-1. Another lefty, Ross Baumgarten, further cooled off Texas, winning 9-0 on Sunday.
As with Honeycutt, past adversity helps Matt Keough of the division-leading A's (1-5) appreciate current success. Keough, who lost 14 straight games in 1979, was 6-0 after stopping New York 5-4. "When I need to reach back for something extra on my fastball, I remember that streak," Keough says. Aside from that, Oakland's road magic went poof. Since winning their first 11 away games, the A's have lost five of their last six.
Ken Forsch and Geoff Zahn of the Angels (4-2) both beat Milwaukee for their fifth victories. Forsch stopped the Brewers 4-0, and Zahn, who had a 9.45 career ERA against them, pitched a five-hitter and won 9-1.
Minnesota (1-5) was one out from a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Boston when lightning struck twice. Zap! Mickey Hatcher walloped a game-tying home run. Zingo! Roy Smalley homered and the Twins were 4-3 victors.
Kansas City (3-3) pulled out a victory, too, scoring twice in the last of the ninth to upend Texas 3-2. The Royals also administered a double dose of lightning of their own when Hal McRae and Willie Aikens hit back-to-back homers on successive days to beat Boston 7-6 and 5-4.
The only respite for Seattle (1-3) came from a 1-0 win in New York. Shane Rawley went 3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings in relief to sew up that victory for Floyd Bannister.
OAK 25-12 TEX 18-14 CHI 17-14 CAL 19-18 SEA 11-22 MIN 11-22 KC 9-18
A principal reason the Cardinals were fourth last season was their knack for letting runners "die" on base. Last week St. Louis (4-2) clung to first place largely because a bit of "suicide" breathed new life into the offense and because George Hendrick kept resuscitating the attack with his hefty hitting. With slow-footed Gene Tenace on third and one out in the top of the 10th, Tommy Herr dropped a daring suicide-squeeze bunt that caught the Astros off guard and beat them 3-2. Two days later the Cardinals looked like goners when they trailed 6-1 in Houston. But with Hendrick doubling twice and getting four RBIs, St. Louis scored two runs in the eighth and four in the ninth and won 7-6.
The Expos (1-5) and Pirates (1-5) looked as if they had played in minefields rather than on ball fields. Montreal's injury list: Ellis Valentine (pulled hamstring), Tim Raines (jammed pinkie), Rowland Office (hairline fracture of the left ankle), Larry Parrish (sore wrist), Jerry Manuel (knee surgery). Six days after no-hitting the Giants, Charlie Lea muzzled them 5-0 on four singles.
Pittsburgh's casualty list: Dave Parker (torn Achilles tendon), Bill Madlock (bruised ribs), Don Robinson (bad shoulder), Rick Rhoden (sore elbow), Bill Robinson and John Candelaria (both out until at least July, the former following an operation on his Achilles tendon, the latter with a tear in his left biceps). Reliever Kent Tekulve was healthy, but for the season had a feverish 5.79 ERA and a wan 0-2 record with nary a save. Uncharacteristically weak at home, the Pirates lost three straight at Three Rivers, making them 2-8 there. Pittsburgh's only win came 7-5 in Atlanta when Tony Pena singled in the 13th.
Luck helped the Phillies (3-3) win twice despite stranding 61 runners in six games. First, the swirling winds at Candlestick made Larry Bowa's routine fly a tough chance, and the ball skittered off Centerfielder Bill North's glove for a two-run error and 3-1 Phillie victory. And Steve Carlton ran his record to 7-0 by stopping San Diego 2-1 with the aid of some good fortune. A ninth-inning double with one on by Barry Evans of the Padres ricocheted off a bullpen bench directly to Leftfielder Gary Matthews, who relayed to Third Baseman Mike Schmidt, who pegged the ball home to beat the runner.
Starting pitchers lasted an average of less than four innings for New York (0-6) and slightly less than five for Chicago (0-6). Other woes: The Mets hit .205 and committed 10 errors, the Cubs hit. 165 and made eight.
ST.L 19-9 PHIL 21-13 MONT 18-15 PITT 12-16 NY 8-22 CHI 5-25
When Mount St. Howard blew its top, the Padres (4-2) were impressed. "It's been different around here," Catcher Terry Kennedy said of the atmosphere on the club after 6'8", 270-pound Manager Frank Howard erupted in the clubhouse after a game in which Pitcher Steve Mura objected to being yanked for a pinch hitter. Fired up by Howard's closed-door tirade, the Padres hit .315 in the next five games. Juan Eichelberger, who usually needs a map, compass and radar to find home plate, didn't issue a walk while beating the Mets 3-0 for his first-big league shutout. Chris Welsh also earned his first shutout, getting 18 outs on grounders as he stopped New York 5-0. A five-run eighth knocked off the Mets again, 10-6, and Kennedy singled in the ninth to finish the Phils 2-1.
Western teams were at home for 33 of 36 interdivisional games, matchups in which the Easterners won just nine times. First-place Los Angeles (6-0) kept winging along. Ron Cey's two-out, two-run homer in the ninth beat Montreal 8-6 and his single in the ninth decked New York 6-5. For the week, Cey batted .462, slugged five home runs and had 12 RBIs. Fernando Valenzuela showed signs of being a mere mortal, giving up his first two homers of the season, in a single game. But when Pedro Guerrero homered in the bottom of the ninth, Valenzuela, who allowed but one other hit, had a 3-2 victory. Overshadowed by Valenzuela's 8-0 record and 0.50 ERA were Steve Howe and Burt Hooton. Howe pared his ERA to 0.53 as he got two wins and a save. And Hooton was 5-0 after blanking Montreal 5-0 with Howe's help and going the route to shut out New York 9-0.
Another Howe—Houston's Art—batted .481, and Craig Reynolds, normally a banjo hitter, drummed an unaccustomed tune as he tied a major league record with three triples in one game. The Astros (5-2) had dazzling pitching, too. Don Sutton defeated St. Louis 3-0; Joe Niekro beat Chicago 5-0; and Nolan Ryan won twice, 5-0 over Cincinnati and 6-1 over Chicago.
Cincinnati (6-1) also had a hot hitter (George Foster, .385) and fine pitching. Mario Soto's 10-strikeout, five-hit effort disposed of Chicago 2-1, and Mike LaCoss whitewashed Pittsburgh 4-0 on five hits and 15 ground outs. LaCoss, who had allowed 14 earned runs in his previous 19 innings, used a new grip for his sinkerball on the advice, given him five minutes before game time, of Pitching Coach Bill Fischer.
Despite a burn blister on his right index finger, Phil Niekro of the Braves (3-3) held the Pirates to two hits and won 2-0. Bruce Benedict's single in the 10th toppled Pittsburgh 3-2, and his three RBIs helped knock off St. Louis 11-3.
Giant Manager Frank Robinson was surprised to learn that Larry Herndon, who was hitting .361, had been only 1 for 15 against Montreal's Steve Rogers last season. So Robinson benched his leading hitter and put seldom-used Jerry Martin in leftfield. Score one for the stat man: Martin tripled and homered as San Francisco (4-2) won 4-2.
LA 26-9 CIN 20-14 ATL 18-16 SF 19-19 HOUS 18-18 SD 14-22
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LEN BARKER: The 6'4", 220-pound Cleveland righthander pitched the first perfect game in the majors in 13 years, beating Toronto 3-0. He struck out 11 Blue Jays and lowered his ERA to a league-leading 1.32.