When Steve Carlton misses a turn, as he did on April 28, that's news. It was only the seventh time he has skipped a start since joining the Phils in 1972. Carlton, who is 40, left his next start last Friday after five shutout innings because his shoulder stiffened. People are starting to wonder how much longer Lefty can be a quality starter.
He was 13-7 last year, but he had only one complete game and struck out 163 in 229 innings. In three previous seasons he had fanned 740 in 769‚Öì innings. On Friday night against Houston, when his best fastball hit 85 mph and most of the rest got only as high as 82, he didn't strike out a soul. The opposing pitcher, Nolan Ryan, struck out 10 and left Carlton in the dust in their alltime strikeout race.
Nobody knows exactly what's wrong with Carlton. He doesn't talk to the media, and he has become a law unto himself medically. He won't deign to visit the team physician, preferring to rely on the strenuous martial arts program of Gus Hoefling, the conditioning coach. For whatever it's worth, team physician Phillip Marone thinks Carlton is suffering from osteoarthritis, an irreversible condition prevalent in the shoulders of 40-year-old pitchers. Especially susceptible are those with more than 4,800 innings in the big leagues.
The final score from Cincinnati last Wednesday was Atlanta 17, Cincinnati 9. And it wasn't a football game. Just call it Mayday on May Day.
•There were 38 hits, none by Pete Rose and 25 by the Braves, who led 6-0 after the first inning and 12-0 after the second.
•The contest was very soggy, with a 2:41 rain delay in the top of the fifth and wet innings before and after. Mario Soto and Cesar Cedeno performed a Dominican rain dance in the Cincinnati dugout before the rain delay with their team trailing 13-2, but Rafael Ramirez countered with a Dominican stop-the-rain dance in the Braves' dugout.
•The actual game took a mere 2:47. After the first couple of innings, the Braves cared only about getting through the fifth to make it official. But they were so hot that when Rick Cerone chased a pitch just to hurry matters along, he ended up with a hit.
•Reds pitcher Frank Pastore saw his ERA go from 3.68 to 10.38. His line was 1‚Öì 107701.
•Reds trainer Larry Starr was ejected from the game in the seventh. Concerned about the health hazards of playing in the rain, Starr remarked to umpire Jim Quick, "How can you continue to play this game? The four of you together don't have one brain." For that, Starr got the boot.
Cleveland manager Pat Corrales suspects the Orioles practice a little espionage in Baltimore's Municipal Stadium. According to Corrales, in the last three games of the Indians' April 25-28 visit, one of the O's, watching TV in the clubhouse, relayed the Cleveland catcher's signs to the dugout, where they were signaled to the Oriole batter. Reserve infielder Lenn Sakata was a primary suspect. Corrales didn't need James Bond to ferret out this info; his batting coach, Bobby Bonds, figured out the ruse. "We called every one of our pitches by watching their dugout," Corrales says.
The Orioles plead total innocence and, indeed, Toronto manager Bobby Cox and Texas skipper Doug Rader say they have never suspected any foul play. But Corrales remains convinced.
This reported skulldugoutery would be against the rules, but when Cleveland general manager Joe Klein complained to the league office, he got nowhere. Corrales, left to his own devices, changed the pitching signs, sometimes during the games. But all that accomplished was the complete confusion of his pitching staff. "Everybody in our bullpen had a different idea of what the signs happened to be," says Indians reliever Tom Waddell. "We were all trying to teach each other, and by the third inning, nobody knew what they were. After a while, I figured I would just look in the Orioles' dugout to see what I was supposed to throw."
Boy, did John Candelaria make a scene this spring when Pirates manager Chuck Tanner told him he was moving him into the bullpen. He even kicked his glove over the outfield wall..(Instructor Willie Stargell called it good.) Candelaria, who likes to complain, has had five saves and a change of mind. "I'm more involved in the game now," he says. "I can pitch 70 games, maybe a lot more." And if Tanner returned him to the rotation? "I wouldn't like it at all. If they try to do it, they'll hear from me."
Amazingly enough, Dan Quisenberry is in a slump. The Royals' stopper saved 89 games in the past two years, but only three this year in six save opportunities. He has also allowed 27 hits in 16‚Öî innings, and he even hit someone, the first time that has happened since 1981.
What does the Quiz do when he goes into a prolonged slump? "Most of the month he just wonders," he says. "He's a parent so he thinks it's a phase. But he knows that since he's out of adolescence he has to think about it."
At first the problem seemed to be location. "I wasn't hitting the corners and offensive history is made when you don't hit corners," he says. "So I thought it must have been mechanics. Then I started to think about which pitches I should throw, but none of them were working. So then I thought maybe attitude was the problem. Was I too nervous? Was I too relaxed? Then I thought I was a football player and watched films, and the other day I think I found it. My landing spot for my left leg was wrong. Where I thought the right landing spot was, was wrong. I had to move it six inches over to the left.
"That's where we are now. Only thing is, I haven't gotten a chance to pitch since then."
When starter Jerry Koosman went to the mound in the eighth inning of his shutout against the Expos on April 30, he was surprised to find another pitcher, rookie Don Carman, standing there, about to throw his first warmup. It seems that Ozzie Virgil, in the bullpen, misheard a message to sit Carman down. So the kid took the tunnel route under the stands and popped out of the dugout runway before anyone knew what was going on. Koosman's message to him when he got to the mound: "Take a hike." ...On the All-Star ballot are four Phillies (Mike Schmidt, Virgil, Juan Samuel, Von Hayes) and nine ex-Phillies (Ryne Sandberg, Manny Trillo, Gary Matthews, Bob Dernier, Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith, Ivan DeJesus, Larry Bowa, Pete Rose).... After reliever Doug Sisk gave up 17 earned runs in his last 11‚Öî innings, the Mets sent him down to Tidewater, where he'll try to straighten himself out as a starter. The Mets won't win unless Jesse Orosco gets some help in the pen. Wes Gardner comes up from Tidewater, where he had seven saves and a 1.50 ERA.... The Cardinals already have 47 steals. At that rate they will steal 331 bases and threaten the Giants' modern major league record of 347 set in 1911.... Think what Dale Murphy might have done in April if the Braves' No. 3 hitters had been hot. Murphy, the cleanup hitter, tied the major league record for the month with 29 RBIs, but the guys immediately ahead of him were 7 for 53 in the last 14 games of April.
Cal Ripken Jr. played in his 464th consecutive game Saturday to break Brooks Robinson's team record. His consecutive inning streak dating from June 5, 1982 is up to 4,198.... DH Willie Aikens, trying to come back from his drug problems of a year ago, was designated for assignment by Toronto last week. "When I found out," he said, "I couldn't even eat, I was so tied up in knots. You know that ache in your stomach, like somebody kicked you? At least I know it's not personal. You know, [Toronto G.M.] Pat Gillick cried when he told me. He did." ...After more than four years and 614 games, the Jays got a win from a lefty starter last week when Jimmy Key beat California.... Make that 15 players in the bigs from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Outfielder Alex Sanchez was promoted from Triple A recently by Detroit.... Angel centerfielder Gary Pettis, who makes great catches regularly, did it again last Thursday against Toronto. He soared about three feet above and three feet beyond the fence to rob Jesse Bar-field of a two-run homer in the Angels' 3-2 win. Dwight Stones, the high jumper, was on hand, and he said, "He has great vertical movement and, obviously, a lot of athletic ability."
BALL PARK FIGURES
Feel the breeze. According to an informal poll of players, managers and coaches in both leagues, these players take the biggest swings in the game:
1. Cliff Johnson, Texas
2. Dave Winfield, New York
3. Dave Kingman, Oakland
4. Dwayne Murphy, Oakland
5. Reggie Jackson, California
1. Tony Pena, Pittsburgh
2. Jack Clark, St. Louis
3. Steve Kemp, Pittsburgh
4. Andre Dawson, Montreal
5. Joaquin Andujar, St. Louis
SELF-DESIGNATED HATER OF DESIGNATED HITTERS
Howie Newman, a sportswriter for the Lynn (Mass.) Daily Evening Item and a songwriter (Blasted in the Bleachers), positively hates the DH. "It curdles my blood," he says. So when he found out that commissioner Peter Ueberroth was going to conduct a poll this season on the popularity of the DH, he went into action. He calls his movement "Dump the DH." Send him $2 and he'll be more than happy to send you a brochure and a DUMP THE DH bumper sticker.
"So far I've sold over 1,100 stickers," he says. "I've gotten mail from 44 states and Canada, and I got a letter last week from Saudi Arabia." A check for $4 came with it, drawn on an American bank. Oil money, no doubt.
"I don't think I can sway the whole country," Newman says, "but I've been interviewed by WTBS and a TV station in L.A., and I've done a number of radio talk shows. Still, the newspaper coverage is what does it. People see the address that way. When I heard there was going to be a poll, I decided it was a chance to make a statement."
For fellow designated haters, the address is: Dump the DH, 35 Fairview Ave., Watertown, Mass. 02172. NBC, by the way, conducted its own telephone poll on April 20, and of 66,000 respondents, 58% said no to the DH.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CAL RIPKEN JR.: The Oriole shortstop hit .565 (13 for 23), slugged 1.087 (three homers, three doubles) and drove in 11 runs to help Baltimore win four of five and move into first place in the AL East.