New York won five of nine and could contemplate the All-Star break from a lofty eminence, being 9� games in front of the rest of the division. The Yankees also passed the million mark in attendance, the earliest they have done so since 1961, and placed the most players on the American League All-Star team, six. And still they quibbled. Manager Billy Martin protested a 2-1 loss to Kansas City because Royal Outfielder Hal McRae took three extra warmup tosses when he replaced injured Amos Otis. McRae did not take part in a defensive play and the protest was disallowed. Then Martin began griping about an American League restriction against using All-Star pitchers on the Sunday before the game, saying that he had not been given sufficient notice by the league office and that his ace, Catfish Hunter, was going to lose a pitching turn. As it turned out, the word had been given to the Yankees but not to Martin, who was on the road. Hunter rested but it hardly seemed to matter to the Yankees. The rest of the division was dormant, no one else being above .500.
Boston also passed the million mark in attendance—on their 39th home date, earlier than ever before—but there was no celebration at Fenway Park. Instead there was a moment of silence for Thomas Austin Yawkey, the Red Sox owner, who died Friday. Earlier in the week the Red Sox (4-4) had crept above .500 for the first time since April but were back below it by week's end. Last year's MVP and Rookie of the Year, Fred Lynn, stung by criticism from the media and the fans, was accused of sequestering himself in the off-limits training room. Carlton Fisk was also hearing boos and had been benched.
Cleveland lost seven of eight and dropped to third place. In the Indians' only win Manager Frank Robinson went 2 for 2—a homer and a single—and drove in two runs. The speculation is that he will insert himself into the lineup more frequently after the All-Star break to try to upgrade Cleveland's offense.
The Tigers (2-4) were also slumping but more than 51,000 Detroiters turned out on two separate occasions to watch Mark (The Bird) Fidrych pitch. He shut out Baltimore 4-0 on four hits at the beginning of the week but then lost 1-0 to Kansas City. His record stood at 9-2, with both losses coming in shutouts. Even in defeat the Bird fanciers chanted until he came back on the field for a post-game bow. A state politician is talking about getting Fidrych a raise above the minimum $16,000 the Tigers are paying him.
Jim Palmer became the first American League pitcher with 11 wins and Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver was ejected on two consecutive nights as the Orioles split eight games. Bill Travers, bound for the All-Star game, won twice for last place Milwaukee (6-2) to up his record to 10-6 and lower his ERA to 1.91.
NY 49-31 BOS 39-40 CLEV 38-40 BALT 39-42 DET 37-41 MIL 32-44
Kansas City won six of eight to open a 6�-game lead, their biggest margin of the season—and of their entire history. In a possible prelude to the American League playoffs, the Royals took three of four from the Yankees, with Steve Mingori being credited with saves in all three victories. In their last five wins Royal pitchers had allowed only four runs, including one 24?-inning stretch without yielding an earned run. The only sour note was Steve Busby's continued failure to pitch well. At week's end he was sent to Los Angeles for an examination of his sore right shoulder.
Texas pitchers needed support from the rest of the Rangers (3-6). In his last four outings Bert Blyleven has pitched four complete games and yielded just three runs, yet he came away with a 2-2 record. Typically, in midweek he lost to Detroit 2-1. At week's end Gaylord Perry got the same treatment from his teammates, pitching a four-hitter and losing to Milwaukee 3-1.