- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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As the least awe-inspiring of the majors' four division leaders, New York might have been expected to weaken after the All-Star break. Instead the Yankees led the big leagues with a 5-0 week, getting their usual quota of out-of-his-head heroics. This week's unexpected feat came from reserve Infielder Sandy Alomar, who has hit one homer per 380 at bats during his major league career. He belted one in the 10th inning to beat Texas 6-4. "I go for the long ball in situations like that," he said. "I don't always succeed." Ed Figueroa won his 10th and 11th games, Catfish Hunter and Dock Ellis their 11th and Ken Holtzman his eighth as the Yankees increased their lead from 9� to 12 games.
Baltimore (3-1) moved from fourth to second as Jim Palmer (page 28) registered his 12th victory, Wayne Garland his 11th and Reggie Jackson homered twice. "The second half of the season belongs to me," said Jackson, who already has 10 homers, 44 RBIs and 13 stolen bases, although a contract hassle kept him inactive for a month.
Detroit (3-1) climbed from fifth to a tie for third, and Mark Fidrych atoned for his shakiness in the All-Star Game by beating Oakland 1-0 in 11 innings. At one point during the game Fidrych squatted on the mound, waiting for a stalling Claudell Washington to step back into the batter's box. Fidrych's next pitch was inside, Washington advanced toward the mound and both benches emptied. A good deal of hollering ensued, but it could not match the shouts of the 45,905 spectators who boisterously refused to leave Tiger Stadium until The Bird returned to the field to take his usual post-game bow.
Cleveland (2-2) Manager Frank Robinson moved Buddy Bell from third to first, started Larvell Blanks at third and Ron Pruitt as catcher and benched slumping First Baseman Boog Powell. Whereupon the Indians lost their fifth straight 5-2, to the Twins. With a more normal lineup the next night, Cleveland beat Minnesota 7-6. "We've got to do something," Robinson insisted, and he promptly demoted last season's ace, Dennis Eckersley (4-8), to the bullpen.
Boston (2-4) lost four of five games to Kansas City—three of them by 2-1 scores—and Captain Carl Yastrzemski publicly blasted his teammates. Taking the cue, Manager Darrell Johnson called a clubhouse meeting and benched 1975 Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Fred Lynn.
Even a winning (3-2) week had its drawbacks for Milwaukee. When the White Sox hit Jim Slaton hard for two innings, Manager Alex Grammas had him change signs. Though Slaton's pitching improved, Grammas decided to yank him in the 10th inning, and Slaton seethed on the bench as Ray Sadecki gave up a game-winning homer to Pat Kelly. "I feel like tearing up my room," Slaton said.
NY 54-31 BALT 42-43 DET 40-42 CLEV 40-42 BOST 41-44 MIL 35-46
There is a race in this division—for second place. Texas (0-6) managed to create one by extending its losing streak to 10. The most lonesome Rangers were Toby Harrah, whose average has dropped from .300 to .265 in three weeks, and Jeff Burroughs, who had just two RBIs in the last II games. Oakland (2-2) moved to just .001 behind Texas when Mike Norris and Rollie Fingers shut out the Tigers 3-0 on four hits. Earlier the A's had blown a chance to move into second when they lost two games to Detroit while allowing only one earned run. Bill North caused their most embarrassing defeat, allowing a line drive to hit him in the chest.