It was a typical Oakland week: the players fought among themselves, groused about Manager Alvin Dark and Owner Charles O. Finley and still managed to split six games. First, Catfish Hunter said Dark should not have relieved him with another right-handed pitcher, Rollie Fingers—who promptly allowed two earned runs. The A's beat Milwaukee 6-4 anyway to extend their winning streak to four and their division lead to V/z games. Other players were more disturbed by the demotion of Pat Bourque, a .286-hitting first baseman and designated hitter, to the minors.; "If Bourque goes, no one is safe," said one. "Why does he [ Finley] have to mess up just when we're going so well?"
Then things got hotter. Reggie Jackson and Billy North, who had been feuding, brawled in Detroit. Jackson, who outweighs North by some 20 pounds, wound up with an injured shoulder and Catcher Ray Fosse, a would-be peacemaker, was in traction with a back injury.
Things were slightly more peaceful in Chicago. When fire broke out in a concession stand thousands of White Sox fans ran onto the field to escape the smoke—and behaved well, perhaps because Dick Allen, en route to driving in 17 runs in eight games, had already hit a three-run homer against Boston. The next day he batted in two more runs with a single and double as the White Sox clobbered the Red Sox 13-6 and moved into second. Surprising Texas was just a percentage point back. Manager Billy Martin held Alex Johnson out of a game, explaining that he needed "a little rest." The next day Johnson had a little fun: four hits and four RBIs, leading the Rangers to a 6-2 win over his exteammates in Cleveland.
Early in the week Kansas City Manager Jack McKeon was complaining that players should be paid for teamwork rather than individual statistics. As if to prove his point, the Royals' best-paid player and top individual star, Amos Otis, made mental mistakes that contributed to two defeats, and the Royals fell to fourth. During California's dismal 1-5 week there was speculation that Manager Bobby Winkles would be replaced. Winkles and Frank Robinson weren't speaking and Winkles asserted that General Manager Harry Dalton had become "a middle-of-the-roader with me." Replied Dalton, "All I can say is that he's manager of the ball club right now."
Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici dropped Pitcher Bert Blyleven from the rotation after three poor performances in four starts, but five days later Blyleven was throwing against New York, and Quilici left him in the game despite his 100-plus pitches in five shaky innings. Blyleven responded by setting down the Yankees on some 40 pitches in the last four innings, retiring the final seven batters and winning 3-2.
OAK 31-24 CHI 26-24 TEX 28-27 KC 26-27 CAL 25-31 MINN 22-28
Having played 33 of their first 48 games on the road, the Tigers began a 12-game home stand next to last in team batting, last in runs scored and last in the American League East. Wisely, they conserved what potency was left in their bats, getting just seven hits in a doubleheader with Oakland yet earning a split. Then they dropped a 9-1 game to the A's, but subsequently defeated California 5-4 and 5-2, the Tigers' first five-run games in two weeks. Switching Catcher Bill Freehan to first and putting Jerry Moses behind the plate seemed sound moves by Manager Ralph Houk, and Mickey Lolich completed his seventh straight game. With 19 strikeouts in two games, Fat Mickey increased his lifetime total to 2,412 and moved into 10th place on the alltime list.
In Baltimore, Catcher Earl Williams and Pitcher Ross Grimsley, important acquisitions in the last two seasons, were off form—Williams again quarreling with Manager Earl Weaver—and sore-armed Jim Palmer lost his seventh straight game. Still, the Orioles took four of six as other Birds chipped in. Mike Cuellar won his seventh (6-4 over Texas), while Bobby Grich belabored the Rangers' Ferguson Jenkins, hitting two doubles, a homer and a sacrifice fly.