With his eye on the surging White Sox (page 18), Oakland Manager Dick Williams said, "This close race is good for the American League but I don't like it." Dick Green was back at second base against the Orioles, and made a big rally-killing play beyond the range of any other A's infielder, and Reggie Jackson was expected back soon. But Vida Blue left after the first inning of his latest start with pains in his groin glands. John Odom outdueled Cleveland's Gaylord Perry, and Sal Bando said, " John is our smallest pitcher. He has lost a little off his fastball, but he knows a lot about moving the ball around." Like everyone else, Bando maintained that Perry was adept himself at moving something around: "He has it on his glove, on his elbow, on his cap, on his neck, and by the time you go out there to find it, he rubs it away."
In 1969, when he managed the Twins, Billy Martin developed Rod Carew as an aggressive base runner. Last week Carew made Martin regret his efforts, Carew went from first to third on a short single against the Tigers, then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly. He was hitting well, too, raising his average to .313.
Kansas City's Hob lemon, usually an easygoing manager, lost his patience and benched starters Amos Otis and Fred Patek until they would assure him they'd give 100% Patek did the next day, but Otis waited for four days—while his replacement Steve Hovley went seven for 11 against the Yankees—before giving in. Otis was irked by Lemon's criticism that he let a flyball drop short of the outfield wall in Texas. Said Otis, who was recently injured bouncing off a fence, "Sure I'm shy of fences. Let Lemon run into one and see if he isn't." The Royals' Bruce Dal Canton hoaxed I ex-as writers by pretending to be teammate Roger Nelson—following the lead of Boston's Tommy Harper, who had pulled the same trick on the same writers by sitting on Reggie Smith's stool after a game. And Otis, shy of more than fences, tacked a sign over his dressing cubicle: "No Interviews, A.O." He meant it, 100%.
Leroy Stanton of the Angels was more accessible after hitting two home runs—his first since June 14th—and two singles in four times up against the Indians. Stanton, who had started off hot but slumped of late, called his four-for-four performance "the greatest night of my life." Andy Messersmith, recuperating from the rare misfortune of a midseason operation on his pitching hand, came back to post a complete-game victory, beating Cleveland 4-2.
The Texas Rangers suffered a notable set—back at least more notable than their other routine losses. Shortstop Toby Harrah, the closest thing the Rangers have had to hurrah about lately, had his appendix removed, and while the doctors trimmed Harrah the Yankees trimmed his teammates twice.
OAK 67-47 CHI 66-47 MINN 59-52 KC 55-57 CAL 51-63 TEX 46-68
Detroit lost two extraining games to the Twins, causing Manager Billy Martin to tear off his double-knit baseball shirt in the clubhouse. Even that did not satisfy him. "I must not be too strong any more," he said. "I wanted to tear my uniform apart. All I ripped off were the buttons." But new acquisition Woody Fryman kept winning, Mickey Lolich finally won his 19th and, despite being 7-13 for August, the Tigers were in first place.
Which meant the Orioles were slightly outslumping them. Jim Palmer stopped a four-game losing streak, the sixth time this year he has won after three or more Baltimore losses. Before the win Earl Weaver, who should be riding high this time of year, said, "When this thing is over, a couple of teams are going to feel they've won it three or lour times and they're going to feel like they've lost ii three or four times. Right now it doesn't look very good. Maybe tomorrow it will look better. All you can do is show up at the park and find out."