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THE WEEK (June 20-26)
Joe Marshall
July 05, 1976
AL EAST
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July 05, 1976

The Week (june 20-26)

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AL EAST

The Yankees were not sure they wanted to return home after opening a 5-2 week with a 6-3 win in Chicago. That gave them a sweep of a six-game road trip and a 22-6 season record away from home. They were 15-16 at Yankee Stadium. "Maybe we should be a team without a home park," said Pitcher Dock Ellis, making a suggestion that could have saved financially beleaguered New York City the $100 million or so it cost to refurbish the Stadium. There seemed to be real cause for concern about the Stadiumitis after the Yankees had lost two of the first three games in a four-game series with second-place Cleveland (4-3) and blown a 5-0 lead in the finale. Then Mickey Rivers' fourth hit of that game drove in a ninth-inning run to give New York a 6-5 win. The Yanks promptly took two more from Milwaukee to open their biggest first-place lead—eight games—since 1963.

The defending Eastern champion Red Sox (3-4) were bickering. The animosity of other Sox toward Carlton Fisk, Rick Burleson and Fred Lynn, all unsigned and all represented by agent Jerry Kapstein, was evident. Burleson and Jim Rice got into a shoving match and had to be separated by Coach Don Zimmer and captain Carl Yastrzemski. Then Yaz failed to appear when the rest of the Red Sox posed for the team picture. No reason was given for his absence. All this—and a fourth-place standing, 10 games behind New York—left Manager Darrell Johnson on thin ice; Zimmer is reportedly the heir apparent.

The Orioles (4-2) took two of three from the Red Sox, including a 3-2 victory that Bobby Grich won with a 10th-inning, two-run homer, and by week's end had reached .500, a game and a half ahead of Boston. Surprising Wayne Garland, a reliever before the recent 10-player trade with the Yankees that depleted the Orioles' rotation, won two complete games to bring his record to 8-0.

The Tigers (5-2) may not be contenders right now, but they are getting encouragement for the future from two rookies, Pitcher Mark Fidrych and First Baseman Jason Thompson. Fidrych, who has a 2.19 ERA, won two more starts to bring his record to 7-1. In both games he received home-run support from Thompson, who now has nine homers to lead Detroit in that category.

Milwaukee was 1-5 for the week and GM Jim Baumer criticized George Scott, last season's league RBI leader, for subpar hitting. Then Manager Alex Grammas demoted The Boomer from fourth to sixth in the batting order for a game against Detroit. Scott, who started the night with a .252 average, 32 runs batted in and six homers, responded with a home run, two singles, two RBIs and some words of his own. "Quote me as saying that he [Baumer] can get on a uniform and come down here and play himself," he said. "I think my talent enables me to play baseball anywhere in America or anywhere out of America.... If you don't like the way I'm producing, then, hey, get rid of me. Nobody's got any strings attached here."

NY 41-24 CLEV 33-32 BALT 33-33 BOS 31-34 DET 31-35 MIL 25-37

AL WEST

The A's won four of seven and gained two games on division-leading Kansas City, but there was no joy in Oakland. Owner Charles O. Finley named Commissioner Bowie Kuhn as the chief defendant in a $10 million lawsuit arising out of Kuhn's voiding two weeks ago of the $3.5 million sale of three Oakland stars, Pitcher Vida Blue (to the Yankees) and Reliever Rollie Fingers and Outfielder Joe Rudi (both to the Red Sox). And when Finley failed to put Blue, Fingers and Rudi back in uniform, Kuhn told him to reinstate the players. Finley did so, but refused to allow the trio to appear in any games. Then Oakland's other players agreed to strike if Finley continued to keep Blue, Fingers and Rudi on the bench. Finley threatened to bring up the Tucson Toros, his Pacific Coast League affiliate, if the A's struck, whereupon the owner of the Salt Lake City Gulls of the PCL threatened to sue Finley if he was left without an opponent. That helped persuade Finley to drop his idea of using minor-leaguers. The next day he acceded to the demands of Kuhn and the A's players and permitted Manager Chuck Tanner to start using Blue, Fingers and Rudi on a regular basis. That would seem to settle the dispute until Aug. 2, when the court is scheduled to begin hearing Finley's suit against Kuhn.

Bert Blyleven, whose $300,000 sale by Minnesota to Texas was approved by the commissioner, won his first two games for the Rangers (5-3) after three successive losses. Both victories came by 1-0 scores in 10 innings, and in one of them Blyleven gave up only one hit.

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