HORNER HOMERS INTO HISTORY
Two years ago there were doubts he would ever play again because of his bad wrist, but on Sunday, Bob Horner of the Braves became the 11th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game. There were a couple of ironies about Horner's performance. Despite his homers, the Braves lost to Montreal, 11-8. And while almost every Brave game is telecast on Ted Turner's Superstation, this one had to be taped so that WTBS could broadcast the Goodwill Games live.
Horner, who raised his season total to 17 homers (tying him with L.A.'s Mike Marshall and Houston's Glenn Davis for the league lead), hit solo shots in the second and fourth and a three-run dinger in the fifth, all off Andy McGaffigan, and, after popping up in the seventh, another solo homer off Jeff Reardon in the ninth. "In my wildest dreams, I would never have expected to do anything like that," said the 28-year-old Horner, who had hit two homers in a game 18 times but never had a three-homer game. "I had a good week today."
The four-homer game is one of baseball's underappreciated feats; while only 11 men have now accomplished it—no one has ever hit 5—13 pitchers have thrown perfect games. Horner's quartet was the first since Mike Schmidt hit four in 10 innings against the Cubs in '76 and the first in regulation play since Willie Mays had four against the Braves in 1961. The other members of the fraternity are Bobby Lowe (1894), Ed Delahanty (1896), Lou Gehrig (1932), Chuck Klein (1936), Pat Seerey (1948), Gil Hodges (1950), Joe Adcock (1954) and Rocky Colavito (1959). Eight of the 11 were National Leaguers; five were outfielders and four were first basemen. The most homers any of them hit in the season of their feat were the 42 by Colavito; the least, 13 by Delahanty.
There were two outs in the ninth when Horner came up for his final at bat. When he hit Reardon's first pitch, a fastball, over the left centerfield fence, the Atlanta crowd gave him a five-minute ovation. The cheers were well deserved, not only for the home runs, but also for the class and perseverance that Horner has shown over the years.
COLEMAN'S UP FOR GRAND LARCENY
Vince Coleman stole four bases last week in a 7-0 loss to the Mets; his two-out theft of third base in the previous series particularly infuriated the Phillies. The Cardinals' leadoff star, who now has 55 steals, has been given carte blanche to make a run at Rickey Henderson's record of 130. "People want to see it," said Whitey Herzog. "As far as I'm concerned, nothing else is happening. Not that I'm a showman, but they do like to watch him run. With a team out of the race, he could get 20 more steals." ...Then there's the mystery of Willie McGee, who is hitting under .250 and playing as if he took up the sport last October. "He's not the same player in any phase," said Herzog. "And I don't mean last year's player. I mean the four-years-ago player." Herzog said that McGee's eyes have been checked a couple of times and that his vision is perfect....
While an MVP is struggling, so, too, is a Cy Young Award winner. Bret Saberhagen's slide continues. He had won 2 of his last 12 starts for the Royals through last weekend, allowing 19 earned runs in 8 innings in his last 3 starts. He had lost to such stalwarts as Ed Whitson, Curt Young, Neal Heaton, Joe Cowley, Mark Portugal, Eric Plunk and Allan Anderson. "He's lost velocity, and he's not pitching inside the way he did last year," says one opposing manager....
When the Mets had four eight-game winners by the first week of July, it reminded manager Davey Johnson of the time he played on the 1971 Orioles team that finished the season with four 20-game winners. The unsung hero of the Mets staff, however, has been reliever Roger McDowell, the first Met ever to go 7-0. His medicine-ball sinker has also produced an ERA of 2.12....
When the Mets swept the Cardinals in St. Louis, the New York manager paid tribute to Herzog. "Last year he tied us up because he kept putting us in a hole with his ability to expose our weaknesses," said Johnson. "He taught us some things about ourselves, and we adjusted accordingly." Three of the adjustments were 1) getting a righthanded infielder who can hit ( Tim Teufel); 2) using someone who can play six positions ( Kevin Mitchell) in lieu of someone who could play none ( Rusty Staub); 3) acquiring one more lefthanded starter ( Bobby Ojeda).