It was a bummer of a week for Darrell Porter of the Cardinals (3-3). A second medical opinion confirmed that Porter had a slight tear in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder, an injury that will shelve him for at least five weeks. What's more, Porter's house in Kansas City was struck by a storm that caved in the roof and did other damage. In light of Porter's woes, Garry Templeton could hardly complain about his flu. "I'm full of penicillin," Templeton said after he matched Tony Scott's four RBIs as St. Louis outlasted Houston 15-12. When Templeton was rested, Mike Ramsey took his place at shortstop and got three hits to help topple New York 8-2. "I call Ramsey my Cornfield Player because he looks like he came right out of the cornfield to the stadium," Manager Whitey Herzog said. "Always ready to play." John Martin, fresh up from the bushes, was also ready to play, becoming the first Cardinal pitcher to go the route in 14 games as he stopped the Astros 3-1 on a four-hitter.
Philadelphia (3-3) stayed within a game of St. Louis as Mike Schmidt hit three homers, increasing his major league-leading total to 14. One of his drives contributed to a 6-4 defeat of the Pirates and another triggered a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers. Marty Bystrom, 22, outdueled Fernando Valenzuela, 20, in the latter game and won with relief help from Ron Reed. Dick Ruthven stopped Los Angeles 3-2, but Tug McGraw continued to labor. McGraw, who has given up 18 hits and nine walks in 15 innings, lost for the fourth time in relief.
Kent Tekulve of the Pirates (4-1) was another reliever in trouble, losing for the 10th time in a row over two seasons. But Pittsburgh got excellent pitching from Jim Bibby, Rick Rhoden and newcomer Pascual Perez. Bibby muzzled Atlanta 5-0 on one hit, Rhoden combined with Enrique Romo to beat the Braves 6-1 and Perez stifled the Phillies 3-1. Rhoden was backed by two homers and four RBIs by Mike Easier, who batted .556 for the week.
May 31, 1981
Andre Dawson of the Expos (3-3) went on a spree, too, connecting for his ninth, 10th and 11th round-trippers and batting .583. Tim Raines kept highballing his way around the bases, his seven steals giving him 40 in Montreal's 39 games. And Charlie Lea extended his string of scoreless innings to 28‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® before a blister on his middle finger forced him to leave after seven runless innings in Chicago, where he earned a 6-3 victory.
The Mets were poised to wrap up a significant accomplishment (for them)—a second consecutive victory—when they lost something. No, they didn't lose the game. What they lost temporarily was Rightfielder Joel Youngblood. One moment Youngblood was in hot but futile pursuit of a long foul fly at Busch Stadium. The next moment Youngblood was gone, nowhere to be seen on the field. What caused his outasight play was that he went right through a partly open door in the fence. Unharmed, Youngblood returned and later said of his disappearance, "I thought the magic was back and I was gone," an allusion to last season's inappropriate Met slogan. The closest the Mets (3-3) came to real magic last week was that two-game winning streak. Youngblood doubled, tripled and had a pair of RBIs as New York beat the Cardinals 9-3 on the day he disappeared. Earlier, his single in the 10th helped the Mets end a nine-game losing streak by downing the Giants 4-3.
William Wrigley, the Cubs' chairman and principal owner, said he was downright embarrassed by his team's performance. He announced that Bob Kennedy had resigned and was being replaced by former Manager Herman Franks as "interim general manager." Said Franks, "I'm here to run the club." Admitted Wrigley, "I'm giving up some of my authority." What did the most good was a 5-1 win over Cincinnati, which broke an eight-game losing streak. Rookie Randy Martz went the distance for Chicago and Leon Durham chipped in with four hits. The Cubs (3-3) also surprised the Expos 6-4 and 6-2. Bill Buckner drove in three runs in the second triumph over the Expos, giving the Cubs a two-game winning streak for the first time this season.
ST.L 22-12 PHIL 24-16 MONT 21-18 PITT 16-17 NY 11-25 CHI 8-28
As usual, the Dodgers (4-3) got fine pitching from a rookie as they built their lead to 6½ games. What was unusual was that the best pitching was not done by Fernando Valenzuela. This time it was Dave Stewart, a right-handed reliever, who excelled. "Smoke," as Stewart is called because of his sizzling fastball, pitched seven innings, didn't allow a run, fanned nine batters and was the winner in successive extra-inning games in Cincinnati. Two days after his pinch homer in the 10th knocked off the Phillies 3-2, Rick Monday went to the other extreme by coming through with a bunt single in the 12th to help beat the Reds 4-2. The next day, Jay Johnstone's pinch home run in the ninth tied the score at 5-5, and then Ken Landreaux drilled a two-run single in the 10th as L.A. won 9-6. As for Valenzuela, he lost for the first time, bungled a couple of fielding plays and had his ERA zoom from 0.50 to 1.24. Valenzuela's victory streak ended at 10 as Philadelphia beat him 4-0, even though he gave up only three hits in seven innings. He then yielded eight hits, six walks and five runs (four earned) in eight innings in Cincinnati before Johnstone's homer took him off the hook. The week wasn't a total loss for Valenzuela, however. He signed a $50,000 contract for the sale of posters of himself.
Before losing three of four games to the Dodgers, the second-place Reds (3-4) extended their winning streak to eight games. Despite hitting a three-run homer in the ninth to help finish off Chicago 10-7, Reliever Doug Bair was credited with neither the win (Joe Price earned that with five innings of shutout work) nor the save (Tom Hume got that when he put down a Cub uprising in the bottom of the ninth inning).
Three saves and a win were chalked up by Greg Minton of the Giants (4-2), who hasn't given up a home run in 208 innings. Jack Clark's two home runs did in New York 3-1, and Darrell Evans' two-run single in the 15th downed Houston 6-3. The wide-awake Giants climbed above .500, but might have fared even better had Vida Blue not slept on his left side one night, a mistake that caused him to miss a pitching turn because of a sore elbow. Then, after a safe and sound night's sleep. Blue defeated Houston 2-1.
Rufino Linares and Rafael Ramirez, both born in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, enabled the Braves (1-4) to overcome a 6-0 deficit and beat the Padres 7-6. Linares walloped a three-run homer in the fifth and singled in the 11th to drive in Ramirez, who had doubled.
Another Dominican, Rafael Landestoy, gave the Astros (2-4) a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals when he tripled in the 11th. Art Howe took over the league lead in batting with a .374 average; he had a .478 week and stretched his hitting streak to 23 games.
San Diego (3-3) got a lift from its Mutt and Jeff lefthanded relief combination—6'5", 200-pound Gary Lucas and 5'8", 132-pound rookie Danny Boone. Lucas got his sixth and seventh saves, and Boone lowered his ERA to 2.05. "My size makes it hard for big league hitters to take me seriously," said Boone, who had 20 strikeouts in 21⅖ innings. A two-run pinch single in the eighth by Randy Bass toppled the Braves 7-5 on Sunday. Padre base stealers, who led the majors last season with 239 thefts, were caught 29 times in their first 59 tries this year. That made Manager Frank Howard take away the green light from two of his swifties—Gene Richards and Ozzie Smith.
LA 30-12 CIN 23-18 SF 23-21 ATL 19-20 HOUS 20-22 SD 17-25
Mike Norris of the A's held a 4-2 lead in the sixth when he ruffled the Orioles' feathers by hitting John Lowenstein in the back of the head with a pitch. The aroused Birds (5-3) won 6-5. "To win, the A's have to use aggressiveness, but it also served to fire us up," said winning Pitcher Mike Flanagan. "Hitting Low was an example. Whether it was deliberate or not, it cost them the game." Baltimore swept into first behind the solid hitting of Gary Roenicke (.500) and Ken Singleton (seven RBIs), plus strong pitching by Tippy Martinez (three saves) and Scott McGregor, who stopped Oakland 5-1 on three hits and beat Detroit 4-2. Roenicke's splurge raised his average to .376, tops in the majors. But Steve Stone went on the 21-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right elbow.
"It's hard to believe, but I was up here for 7½ years and really knew nothing about hitting," said Dwight Evans of the Red Sox (6-2). Evans, who had a .258 average for his first seven seasons, was enlightened about hitting last season by Coach Walt Hriniak. Now it's hard to believe the turnaround. During the final 80 games in 1980, Evans abandoned his habit of changing his stance more often than his socks and batted .317. And after slugging his ninth and 10th home runs and hitting .464 last week, Evans was at .356 for the season. Teammate Jerry Remy was higher, boosting his average to .364. For a change, Boston also got some fine pitching. Frank Tanana struck out nine Mariners while winning 4-0. Dennis Eckersley fanned 12, gave up only two hits and defeated Oakland 3-0 when Jim Rice homered with two aboard in the ninth. The bullpen continued to be effective, two relievers being credited with victories that were saved by fellow relievers. Before dropping a Sunday doubleheader in Milwaukee, Boston had climbed to fourth place by winning 14 of 17 games, with relief pitchers accounting for seven wins and six saves during that surge.
New York's relievers were also invaluable, getting three saves and two wins. Doug Bird tossed five innings of runless relief to stop the Royals 6-5. And Ron Davis saved two games for the Yankees (4-2) as he struck out eight men in four scoreless innings, giving him a remarkable 46 Ks in 28 innings. Davis, who averaged 4.5 strikeouts per nine innings in three previous seasons, attributed his newfound success to a rising fastball he developed to replace a sinker that wouldn't sink.
"We think we're for real, but I don't believe all the fans do," said Rick Waits of the Indians (3-4). The Tribe was real enough to defeat the Angels 7-3 and Yankees by the same score as Bo Diaz had three RBIs in each game, and on Sunday won 12-5 in New York by pounding out a total of 13 hits. Dan Spillner went eight innings to beat California, and Bert Blyleven and John Denny polished off New York.
Most of Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson's smiles were limited to the night he was' roasted at a hospital charity event. There the white-haired Anderson was characterized as "a 5'8" Q-Tip." And sportscaster Al Ackerman said, "Sparky came here two years ago promising to build a team in his own image, and now the club is looking for small, white-haired infielders with .212 batting averages." Fortunately for the Tigers (4-3), they had a different image in mind, seven of them banging out two hits apiece during a 16-hit assault that led to a 14-1 drubbing of the Rangers. Anderson was given plenty to smile about on Sunday—an 8-2, 5-3 sweep of Baltimore. Steve Kemp drove across four runs in the opener and Lance Parrish slugged a pair of home runs in the nightcap. Lengthy shutout relief jobs were vital, too, Kevin Saucier going four strong innings in the first game against the Orioles and Dave Tobik pitching 5‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings in the second.
Mindful that his optimistic statements had invariably been followed by Brewer collapses, Manager Buck Rodgers remained mum even when his team's victory streak reached six games. His silence didn't turn out to be golden. After two losses to Boston, Rodgers said, "Now even keeping my mouth shut doesn't help." What did help the Brewers (5-2) were two saves by Rollie Fingers, 11 hits by Jim Ganter and Gorman Thomas' 10th, 11th and 12th home runs. Charlie Moore's double and Ted Simmons' sacrifice fly in the 14th inning carried Milwaukee to a 2-1 triumph over Boston in Sunday's first contest. And then Thomas and Cecil Cooper both homered and drove in three runs as the Brewers took the second game 10-7.
Instead of counting sheep on sleepless nights, Toronto Manager Bobby Mattick can count his team's errors: nine last week left the Blue Jays (1-6) with 42 in 42 games. On second thought, such counting might make Mattick an insomniac. But what choice does he have? Should he count his players' hits, which have been so infrequent that Toronto has a .213 average for the season, by far the worst in the league? Presumably Mattick slept well after Otto Velez and John Mayberry homered to knock off Chicago 9-5.
BALT 24-14 CLEV 21-13 NY 23-16 MIL 22-17 BOS 22-18 DET 20-20 TOR 12-30
Billy Martin and his stumbling A's (4-4) had their lead trimmed to three games. But after a third straight loss in Milwaukee, Martin didn't rant and rave. Instead he treated his players to dinner and a round of drinks. When the losing ways continued in Boston, Martin didn't blow his top. He merely said, "I'm going to St. Cecilia's [a Boston church] to get this thing straightened out. This streak will end when good luck rejoins us." Although good fortune eluded him in Baltimore, Martin kept his cool. He even spoke of his least-favorite people—umpires—in a light vein. If nothing else, Martin pointed out, the A's losing streak had caused the umps to stop harassing his staff about its suspected use of illegal pitches. Said Martin, "Until now, they were going to put our uniforms in plastic bags and pick 'em up with pliers, untouched by human hands. They were going to send out police dogs to try to detect Vaseline." When Martin showed up with a cast on his thumb, he explained that he had injured himself lifting a suitcase. He took the inevitable cracks with equanimity. Then, at long last, there was something Martin could delight in—a 6-2 victory over Toronto that snapped Oakland's eight-game skid. The next day, Matt Keough was working on a three-hit shutout in the ninth before the Blue Jays scored twice to knot the score at 2-2. The A's Jeff Jones went the final 6‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® scoreless innings and won 3-2 in the 15th when Mitchell Page raced home from third on a shallow sacrifice fly by Rickey Henderson. On Sunday, Tony Armas slugged his 10th and Nth homers as Oakland beat Toronto 6-5 and 5-0, the shutout going to Mike Norris.
Kansas City Manager Jim Frey underwent a sort of personality transformation, too, one the opposite of Martin's. The usually tranquil Frey, angered when Umpire Dale Ford ejected him for complaining about a called strike on Willie Wilson in New York, slammed his cap to the ground, kicked it several times and also scuffed dirt on Ford's trousers, home plate and on Yankee Catcher Barry Foote. Foote responded by throwing a handful of dirt at Frey. After the game, Frey "blew up in the clubhouse," according to Second Baseman Frank White. Frey also chewed out Clint Hurdle for having sung in the dugout when the Yankee Stadium organist played New York, New York between innings. Three one-run setbacks did nothing to get the Royals out of the Freying pan. Neither did a club-record stretch of 30 scoreless innings by Kansas City, which was finally broken when Wilson singled in the 15th for a 1-0 win over Minnesota. Paul Splittorff went the first 11 innings for the Royals and Renie Martin pitched the last four.
Like Keough, Bryan Clark of Seattle (2-5) had a shutout entering the ninth—a two-hitter against Texas—before he tired. Bill Stein, a former Mariner, tied a league mark in that game with his sixth pinch hit in a row, and John Ellis added a three-run pinch double to tie the score at 4-4. Stein tormented Seattle once more that night, doubling in two runs in the 12th as the Rangers (4-2) won 6-4.
With Bill Almon batting .478 and Harold Baines .480, second-place Chicago (5-1) hit .333 for the week and raised its team average to .294, tops in the majors. Greg Luzinski had a pair of two-homer games and 12 RBIs for the revitalized White Sox.
California (2-5) continued its inexplicable habit of winning on the road and losing at home. A 7-2 victory in Cleveland and a 2-0 win in Baltimore by Doug Rau (his first in more than two years) put the Angels at 13-8 in away games this season. As many losses in three games at home, though, left the Californians 8-15 in Anaheim.
The Twins (1-5) continued having difficulty winning anywhere. As a result, Johnny Goryl was fired and Billy Gardner became the new manager. Jerry Koosman made Gardner a winner in his first day on the job, blanking the Royals 7-0.
OAK 29-16 CHI 22-15 TEX 22-16 CAL 21-23 SEA 13-27 KC 11-22 MINN 12-27
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JIM BIBBY: After being tagged for a leadoff single, the Pirate righthander retired the next 27 Braves in order as he won 5-0. He also slugged two doubles in that game and then homered as he knocked off the Phillies 7-1.