IN THE BAMBINO'S FOOTSTEPS
Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics has hit 56 homers in his first 188 games, or one every 3.4 games. By comparison, Babe Ruth hit one every 3.5 games in his career, and Henry Aaron had one every 4.4.
A BALKWARD STRATEGY
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bob Walk isn't afraid to balk with a runner on first base. "If you've got an 8-out-of-10 guy on, why not balk?" says Walk. "He's probably going to steal anyway. And if you balk him to second, it makes him mad because he doesn't get a stolen base."
WHAT PUTS THE GOOD IN GOODEN
New York Mets ace Dwight Gooden has reached double figures in strikeouts in 28.9% of his career starts. The Houston Astros' Nolan Ryan has done it 28.5% of the time, and the Boston Red Sox' Roger Clemens 22.0%.
WATCH OUT, DENVER
Buffalo is looking more attractive as an expansion city. The Buffalo Bisons (Triple A) drew a total of 82,833 fans for their first five home dates. One of them was an 11 a.m. game on April 19. How cold was it? "Admiral Byrd threw out the first pitch," said manager Rocky Bridges.
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE
On April 7 the Osceola Astros (Class A) of the Florida State League scored nine runs in an exhibition game against Houston's Jim Deshaies, who was rehabilitating his arm before returning to the majors. In his next outing, he promptly shut out the Atlanta Braves. Then, last week, Osceola faced another rehab project, Red Sox veteran Bob Stanley, who is temporarily playing for Winter Haven (Class A). This time the Astros put only eight runs on the board. Stanley looked like a major leaguer, though. In five innings he committed five balks.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
On April 18, Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies scored from first base against the Mets on a wild pitch. New York's David Cone threw a fastball that sailed past catcher Gary Carter, ricocheted off the backstop and rolled along the top step of the Phillies' dugout. Carter pursued the ball but fell as he neared the dugout, and by the time he got to the ball, Schmidt was already at third. Carter looked up to throw—only to find that no one was covering the plate. Schmidt, having made a similar observation, dashed homeward and scored unchallenged.
?An exhibition game between Houston and Texas A & M at College Station, Texas, drew 6,421 fans. The week before, a total of 5,748 spectators showed up for a two-game series between the Astros and the Braves in Atlanta.
? Don Mattingly was hitting .253 through the weekend. Fear not. His career average for April and May is .286. From June through October it's .346.
? Bret Saberhagen was 15-3 at last year's All-Star break. Including last week's loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, he has gone 5-9 since then.