- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The night Kansas City resumed play after the All-Star break, Amos Otis said the Royals would win the division. "But that guy," he said, pointing to Hal McRae, "predicted on the first day of the season that we'd win it." McRae smiled thinly and said, "That's the only thing I've done for this club so far." Suddenly this week McRae, who struggled to hit .164 in the first half of the season, provided punch as KC continued its drive to fulfill his prediction. Home runs by McRae and Lou Piniella beat Baltimore 2-1 as the Royals won their 11th straight one-run victory. In his first two at bats against the Orioles the next day, McRae hit two doubles and drove in four runs as KC won 9-4 for its 11th victory in the last 13 games.
"My fastball is as fast as ever, but it's straighter," Oakland's Vida Blue reported after staggering through nine innings. "It doesn't move like it used to. I threw a couple of straight balls to Thurman Munson, and he hit 'em right back over my head." In any place other than Yankee Stadium, Munson's clouts would have been out of the park, and Blue would have been out of the box. Instead he beat the Yanks 7-3.
Minnesota lost its fifth straight after leading the Brewers 6-3 going into the ninth. Milwaukee loaded the bases, and reliever Eddie Bane, who had allowed neither a hit nor a run in his last seven appearances, yielded a three-run double to Dave May and a game-winning single to George Scott.
Chicago had a typical week. Buddy Bradford suffered contusions of his right shoulder, Bill Melton an injured right hand and Manager Chuck Tanner a permanently stiffened lip. But he went through with his annual August clubhouse meeting. "I reminded them of how beautiful it is to be in the major leagues," was how he described the conference. That is what the Sox rookies thought, too. Rightfielder Brian Downing started his first big-league game and he hit a home run. Another rookie, Bill Sharp, stepped in against Detroit's Joe Coleman in the seventh inning of one game, ran the count to 2-0, got a fastball down and in and hit a towering drive to the right-field seats—foul by a foot or two. Sharp faced Coleman again in the ninth, ran the count to 2-0, got a fastball down and in and hit a towering drive into the right-field seats. That one was a homer that won the game, one of four Sox victories in a .500 week.
California lost four of six, and Frank Robinson said it was "strictly the fault of the players." This wasn't exactly a mea culpa, since Robinson had just clouted his 20th homer, his ninth hit in his last 11 at bats.
Jeff Burroughs hit a 450-footer, which landed three-quarters of the way up the left-field stands for his 19th home run, but that was all a Texas crowd of 28,326 had to cheer about as Cleveland jumped on young pitching hero David Clyde. His 8-1 defeat was his fourth in seven decisions.
KC 68-50 OAK 65-51 MINN 56-58 CHI 57-60 CAL 53-60 TEX 42-72
There are constant reminders in the local press that they are over the hill, but maybe the Detroit Tigers haven't learned to read. Al Kaline, testy earlier in the year about talk of retirement, was mellow again. He joked about asking for a two-year contract so he can continue pursuit of his 3,000th hit. Now at 2,845, Kaline should soon pass Babe Ruth's 2,873. No American Leaguer in almost 50 years has joined the exclusive 3,000-hit club; the last was Eddie Collins in the '20s. And, with Kaline still lively, the supposedly decrepit Tigers won six of eight.