Big talk is a major industry in the Lone Star State, but even Texans guffawed when Manager Billy Martin said his Rangers would "fight for the pennant." Last week, though, the Rangers won five straight and tied the A's for first place. The Rangers, who lead the league in batting at .279, hammered together an eight-run uprising that gave Ferguson Jenkins a 10-2 win over Minnesota. And when the hitting tailed off, Steve Hargan throttled the Twins 1-0 on two hits.
Oakland won five of seven as Reggie Jackson smacked four homers, drove in 11 runs and hit .429. Also chipping in was Sal Ban-do, who helped beat the White Sox 4-3 with a two-run homer and clipped the Angels with a 10th-inning hit.
At 6'2" and 215 pounds Bob Oliver of the Angels is the biggest third baseman in the league. In a 5-3 win over the Twins he showed quickness and agility in the field and hit two homers. But after pushing their season record to 7-2—the best start in the club's 14-year history—the Angels stumbled and wound up the week with a 3-4 mark.
When Joe Decker's control went awry last year he was spared a trip to the minors only because Twin President Calvin Griffith insisted, "He can be another Nolan Ryan." Last week Decker outpitched Ryan by fanning 11 men in 6? innings before tiring and giving way to Bill Campbell, who preserved a 6-0 win.
When the Royals played in Texas they were listed in the program as the " Kansas City Chiefs." Fielding about as well as the Chiefs might have, they lost twice to the Rangers. Before Saturday's game against the White Sox the Royals were urged by Manager Jack McKeon not to be "mentally lazy." Playing alertly and errorlessly, they earned their only win in five tries, 7-3.
The White Sox (page 18) held a meeting of their own on Tuesday to discuss their poor play, then lost to Oakland 4-3. Their first of two wins in five games came when Stan Bahnsen volunteered to pitch with two days' rest and beat the A's 5-3. Two days later DH Ron Santo walked with the bases loaded to force in the tie-breaking run in a 5-4 win over the Royals.
TEX 8-5 OAK 8-5 CAL 8-6 MIN 6-6 KC 4-6 CHI 3-9
There was no figuring Milwaukee pitchers according to past form. At least not Jim Col-born, a 20-game winner last year, and Clyde Wright, a 19-game loser and a man with serious back troubles. Colborn is 0-1 so far, losing to Cleveland 3-2 when his three wild pitches let in two runs. The Brewers won their three other games, two behind Wright, who gave batters aching backs as he pitched 13? hitless innings during one span.