San Francisco Outfielder Bobby Bonds was off to a poor start so he spent most of a day off studying films of himself at the plate. Last week his batting average rose 200 points. The rest of the Giants did not need visual aids. They beat Houston three straight and Cincy two out of three before losing to San Diego on a bad-hop grounder that opened the gate for two runs. The much-maligned Giant pitching staff looked good: Mike Caldwell, acquired from the Padres for Willie McCovey, won two; Tom Bradley beat Houston in the opener; and John D'Acquisto went six strong innings. Still, the Giants always look like giants before June, when summer shrinkage usually sets in.
The Dodgers also broke quickly from the gate. When Second Baseman Dave Lopes was hurt he was replaced for four games by Lee Lacy, who hit .389, scored five runs and drove in two. After going 2 for 4 on Friday night, Lacy was back on the bench Saturday as Lopes knocked in the tying and go-ahead runs in a 6-3 win over the Astros. Said Manager Walter Alston, "This team reminds me of my 1955 club, which won its first 10 games and 22 of the first 24."
"I expected them to start right out," said Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson of the two California teams, "but we have to stay close. I wouldn't want to be further than four games behind all year. There's so much balance in our division it's tough to make up ground." Outfielder Pete Rose revealed he had received feelers from the proposed World Baseball League. He might have to jump in self-defense. Already a villain in New York and Chicago, he was the target of obscenities, boos and even golf balls in Candlestick Park.
Houston Manager Preston Gomez was pleased with rookie Outfielder Greg Gross, 21, "the best leadoff man we've had in my two years with the Astros." Gross has seven hits in his first nine at bats and was batting .478 through Saturday. Larry Dierker, who had only one victory last season and suffered arm and shoulder problems, won his 100th major league game, against the Padres. Atlanta crowds dropped back to normal after Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record. Only 5,114 were on hand to see him smack No. 716—his third hit and third homer.
Hamburger magnate Ray Kroc, new owner of the Padres, got on the PA mike at the San Diego home opener Tuesday night while his team was being bombed by the Astros and said, among other things, "I've never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life." He apologized the next day.
SF 6-2 LA 6-3 CIN 4-4 HOUS 4-4 ATL 4-5 SD 1-7
St. Louis, 4-1 for the week and 6-1 for the season, was getting dividends from its off-season trades with the Red Sox. Reggie Smith delivered two game-winning hits, Lynn McGlothen beat Pittsburgh and still another ex-Bostonite, John Curtis, looked good despite losing to New York. "I think we've got the best pitching staff in the league," said Joe Torre. "We have six starters better than the Met starters. They just don't have names like Seaver, Koosman and Matlack. Call "em the No-Name Staff."
After losing three straight to the weatherman, Montreal managed to take hot bats to both Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Expos erupted for four runs in the 13th inning to beat the Pirates 12-8. Ron Fairly's fifth career grand-slam home run highlighted a 13-3 romp over the Cubs in a 3-1 week in which the Expos scored 34 runs. Chicago has lots of new faces but is lucky that 35-year-old Billy Williams—and his bat—are still around. The oldest and highest-paid Cub, Williams had eight of the team's first 16 RBIs.