Boston took some steam out of Baltimore's drive toward the playoffs, winning three of four from the Orioles, but still trailed them by five games. "At this point in the season, with our advantage in the loss column, I'm happy," said Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver.
Boston's taste of success was soured by a flap in the press over those old reliables of controversy, Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli. Their former teammate, Hawk Harrelson, unearthed at a golf tournament, was quoted as saying that Smith "undermines the whole club."
Smith was leading the team in batting average, bad knees and tantrums. Meanwhile, although Petrocelli was hors de combat after an operation for removal of calcium from his elbow, there were suggestions that both he and Smith be traded. Yaz? He was safe at third, playing regularly at that position for the first time in his career because of Rico's injury, and was on a 13-game hitting binge that raised his average to .298. But came Saturday, and Yaz made three errors, went hitless and was razzed by the fans.
The Tigers were all but out of the race, but Detroit still was making plenty of news. First, General Manager Jim Campbell fired Manager Billy Martin for his obstreperous defense of some Tiger spitball antics. For that Campbell was hanged in effigy at the ball park. Then bullets from a gunfight in a neighboring apartment ripped into Campbell's living room, narrowly missing him. "So endeth a dull week in Detroit," said Campbell grimly.
The Yankees, working their way down the standings, gave up on this season and traded the Alou brothers, Matty to the Cardinals and Felipe to the Expos, thus chopping an estimated $150,000 from the payroll.
Though the Yanks still held a 3�-game advantage over the fifth-place Brewers, Milwaukee was not unhappy. Attendance went over the million mark for the first time since the expansion Seattle Pilots came East, and the Brewers had more than money to cheer about. Pitcher Jim Colborn won No. 18. Another fine young pitcher, Jim Slaton, got No. 12. Yet it was left to Ed Rodriguez, an obscure hurler with a 7-6 record, to make history. Rodriguez became the first American League pitcher to get a hit in this inaugural year of the DH, and according to Manager Del Crandall, he tried to refuse the order to bat for himself. That was not the case, explained Rodriguez in his limited English. "I tell Crandall, 'I'm not allowed to hit.' I think he made a mistake." In any language, Rodriquez hit a triple off Cleveland reliever Jerry Johnson and so earned his niche in trivia land.
Cleveland's financial woe, a bath of red ink that could reach $1 million, obscured the team's second-half resurgence. After a dismal 36-67 pace during the first two-thirds of the season, the Indians have been 25-16 since July 29.
BALT 81-57 BOST 78-64 DET 75-68 NY 72-70 MIL 68-73 CLEV 61-83