After the Astros lost their 11th consecutive game at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium on July 26, losing pitcher Jim Deshaies decided to take matters into his own hands. The next day he bought a witchcraft book and performed a curse-breaking ceremony in the visitors' clubhouse, which involved taking twigs from four different trees, spitting on them and throwing them on a fire while reciting a chant. After he finished, Deshaies asked if there were any nonbelievers present, and the only person to say yes was first baseman Glenn Davis. Later that night the Astros defeated the Padres 4-1. Davis strained his hamstring in the second inning and may be out for several days.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING RICKEY
Through Sunday the Yankees were 50-32 in games that leftfielder Rickey Henderson had started and 10-10 in the ones he didn't start. With Henderson batting leadoff, the Yanks have scored 95 runs in the first inning, or 18% of their total runs for the season.
A QUANTUM DINGER
On July 16, Kansas City outfielder Bo Jackson hit a home run off Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd that hit the back wall behind the bleachers in Fenway Park. One of the Sox players in the bullpen said, "I wonder how far that would have gone if the wall hadn't been there." So John Trautwein, a Boston reliever who has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Northwestern, later took out a piece of paper and started scribbling. Then he announced, "Estimating Oil Can's pitch at 85 miles per hour, the time it took to get to the wall at 3.0 seconds and the velocity off Jackson's bat at 90 miles per hour, I'd say it would have gone 540 feet." Somebody later checked a textbook and discovered that the formula Trautwein used, which also ignored other factors, was right. Said Trautwein with a shrug, "I haven't pitched since June 16. I might as well do something."
The White Sox beat the Mariners 1-0 in the 11th inning on July 26 when reliever Michael Jackson walked shortstop Ozzie Guillen with the bases loaded. That was no small feat; Guillen has twice tied the record for the fewest walks in a season: 12 in '85 and '86.
?Last year pinch hitters batted .234 with 103 homers and 735 RBIs. At week's end they were hitting .203 with 33 homers and 329 RBIs.
?Rangers slugger Peter Incaviglia has struck out all seven times he has faced the Red Sox's Roger Clemens and is 0 for 4 with four strikeouts against Boyd.
?Pitcher Todd Stottlemyre's last three appearances with the Blue Jays before being sent down to the Triple A Syracuse Chiefs on July 28 included two starts in which he failed to win despite 9-1 and 6-0 leads, and a game in relief during which he walked all three of the batters he faced, forcing in two runs.
?Shortstop Alfredo Griffin returned to the Dodgers lineup for a doubleheader against the Giants July 26 and made an error in each game. While Griffin was on the disabled list, his replacement, Dave Anderson, made only three errors in 60 games.
?The Indians' John Farrell, whose record through Sunday was 11-7, has pitched into the sixth inning or later in every one of his 31 major league starts.