Baltimore's Jim Palmer became the first American League righthander since Red Ruffing to win 20 games four years in a row (Ruffing did it for the Yankees starting in 1936). No. 20 came against the Brewers 4-1, and afterward nondrinker Palmer broke out five bottles of champagne for his teammates. Other bubbly Oriole news: Utility Infielder Frank (No Home Run) Baker, hitting .097, tripled twice in a victory over Milwaukee and Al Bumbry upped his batting average to .330. The bad news: Elrod Hendricks was lost for the season with a severely dislocated ankle.
The Red Sox, 3-4 for the week even though they had to play the Tigers only once, were trailing Baltimore by 6� games at week's end. If the Red Sox had a little better than a 2-12 record against Detroit, they might be giving the Orioles a stiffer fight. Anyway, Luis Tiant (18-12) has a chance to reach the Palmer plateau for the second time in his career. He has at least four more starts. And Tommy Harper stole his 44th and 45th bases Saturday against Cleveland, seven short of Tris Speaker's club record set in 1912. Roger Moret beat the Yankees 7-1 Wednesday night for his 11th win against no defeats.
The Tigers used excellent pitching to good advantage in a 4-1 week. John Hiller got his 36th save (coming in to relieve Joe Coleman), breaking Sparky Lyle's year-old American League record and putting Hiller only one short of Clay Carroll's major league mark. Mickey Lolich, who was below .500 most of the season, beat the Brewers 2-1 with Hiller's aid for his 15th victory. He also unveiled his new pitch, a knuckleball that he throws about once per inning. Move over, Wilbur Wood.
New York's Mel Stottlemyre beat the Orioles 3-0 Saturday night, the fourth time this year he has defeated the division leaders. Milwaukee started off the week in fine style with two straight wins, then proceeded to drop six in a row. The Brewers had better brew up some trades. Ken Aspromonte, manager of last-place Cleveland, got the baseball equivalent of the Mafia kiss, a vote of confidence from a front-office man.
BALT 86-60 BOS 81-68 DET 79-69 NY 74-74 MIL 70-79 CLEV 65-85
Oakland's Gene Tenace enjoyed what he called "my biggest day in the majors" Friday when he went four for four against the Rangers, including a grand-slam homer, and drove in five runs. "I looked at the scoreboard," said Tenace, "and saw that Kansas City had lost, and then I thought if we could win this game we'd give Reggie Jackson another week's rest, and I remembered that this was the first time Catfish Hunter had gone 10 innings since the All-Star break. And so I hit a home run." The A's won 5-1, took three other games in the week (two of three from the Royals) and moved 6� games out in front.
Kansas City was not too happy with just one win in three games at Oakland nor with several early showers. "Their fans are better beer throwers than ours," said Manager Jack McKeon. "Several of us got drenched during the game." The 5-0 victory over the A's was Paul Splittorff's first win since Aug. 11; it was his eighth try for victory No. 16.
Nolan Ryan Night in Anaheim Stadium turned out to be well timed. After the Angels' star pitcher had collected his gifts, including a half-ton pickup truck, he went out and beat the Royals 3-1. His 10 strikeouts tied him with Bob Feller at 348 as the best right-handed whiff artist in history (one-season division). On the way Ryan passed lefty Rube Waddell's total of 343. He is 34 shy of Sandy Koufax' alltime mark. Ryan now has 18 wins.