Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici is yet one more friend of the long ball. In the 11th inning of a game with Detroit he disdained the sacrifice bunt with the tying runs on base and no one out. Instead, he allowed batter Eric Soderholm to swing away. Quilici explained, "Eric is not an accomplished bunter. It is like asking a man to do a trick play." It all turned out to be a dirty trick for the Twins. Soderholm popped up and the next batter hit into a double play to end the rally.
A more successful slugger was Lou Piniella of Kansas City, who had been in a slump at the start of the week. First, broadcaster Buddy Blattner, a former major league infielder, advised him that he was crouching too much at the plate, then Coach Charlie Lau told him his stance was too wide. Piniella listened to both, then borrowed one of tiny teammate Fred Patek's 30-ounce bats. In the first three games of a series with the Yankees he had five hits. "I needed a quicker bat," said Piniella. "I feel tired."
Bob Oliver of California found his own way to shake a slump. In the second inning of a game with Cleveland the Indians walked the third hitter in the Angels' order, Leo Cardenas, in order to pitch to Oliver with two men on base. Angered by this slight, Oliver singled home both runners.
Deep in the heart of Texas, the Rangers' problems continued to mount. A fan survey revealed that they draw more spectators from the Dallas suburbs than from the city itself, where most of the people live. Then Pitcher Dick Bosman, who earns $50,000, said he wanted to be traded because he didn't think he was pitching enough to give the customers their money's worth. Looking at Bosman's 4.38 earned run average, the Rangers' few fans might not agree.
CHI 70-49 OAK 69-51 MINN 60-56 KC 58-60 CAL 52-67 TEX 48-72
Everybody gets into the act on Billy Martin's Detroit Tigers, whether it is playing or punching. The Tigers and the A's had a first-class brawl after Reliever Bill Slayback knocked down Oakland's Angel Mangual with a pitch that sailed over his head. The Tigers, who may fight better than they play, were awarded a split decision by ringside observers. The next night Martin handed the umpires a lineup card that included in the "extra man" listings Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Tony Galento, Rocky Marciano, Gene Tunney, Jim Jeffries and John L. Sullivan. None of them got into the game, although with Martin almost everyone else does. On fight night he used 18 players, including four pitchers. Then, four days later, perhaps afraid he might have missed somebody, Martin used 21 men, including eight pitchers.
Martin's nemesis at Baltimore, Earl Weaver, also plays a numbers game. "Would you believe me if I told you I know we're going to get seven runs tonight?" Weaver asked a dugout visitor before a game with California. Since the Orioles had scored only 11 runs in their past seven games, the visitor replied with withering logic, "No." The Orioles won 7-1. One number Weaver can forget about, however, is 100. When Nolan Ryan shut out the Orioles on Tuesday it was their 55th loss of the season. It is now impossible for them to give Weaver a fourth straight 100-victory season.
A team that normally loses 100 games, the Cleveland Indians, must now be considered a surprise addition to the tight Eastern race. By the end of the week they were only 6� games behind the Orioles and Tigers, who shared first place. At the same time a year ago Cleveland was 30� games off the pace. Still, Manager Ken Aspromonte is a realist. "There are four teams ahead of us now," he said. "We play each other the last month, and when one is winning, another is losing. If Detroit plays .500 ball the rest of the way, we'll have to play .800 ball."
The Red Sox, who are even closer to the top, have seven games left with Detroit and six with Baltimore, and there is plenty of pennant fever left in Boston. To strengthen themselves for the stretch run, the Sox called up Relief Pitcher Bob Bolin from Louisville, where he had a 6-1 record and six saves.