The Royals had plenty more to celebrate during their 5-2 week, especially a three-game sweep of Minnesota. The Twins had come into town with an eight-game winning streak that had propelled them into second place, but 7-1, 4-2 and 6-4 losses ended the surge. Not even Bill Singer's tricky stuff could help the Twins (4-3). After KC's Fred Patek slammed a Singer special for a two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning of the third game, the little shortstop said, "The spitter I hit was a dandy. It dipped right down on my hands." And then on into center field.
Oakland (3-4) moved back into second place despite three straight losses to the Twins at the beginning of the week. Owner Charles Finley, meanwhile, called all his players pathetic and said he was disgusted with their performance. For once, Finley was not blaming his manager, Chuck Tanner, but he did light into Captain Sal Bando. "I'll be damned if I were a player hitting around .224 that I'd have the guts to ask for a long term contract at more than $100,000 a year."
Another unhappy owner, Brad Corbett of Texas, indicated that some of his team's untouchables, possibly Jeff Burroughs and Toby Harrah, who are having subpar years, may not be so secure after all. Said Corbett after the Rangers had lost 20 of their last 25, "This slump has taught us a lot about our ball club. I'd say that some of the people we've taken a hard line on tradewise in the past might be more expendable. At least we'll be more receptive to any and all deals for these people." As good as ever for the 3-3 Rangers were Gaylord Perry, who won twice, including his first shutout of the year, 6-0 over Minnesota, and Bert Blyleven, who changed the grip on his fastball and beat California 1-0.
The Angels (3-3) climbed out of the cellar after Frank Tanana's 13 strikeouts beat Oakland 2-1, but they fell back following a 9-1 defeat. Earlier, Bruce Bochte helped Nolan Ryan to his second straight victory, 9-6 over Texas, by blasting four hits. With a single, double and triple in his first three at bats, Bochte admitted he was going for the homer that would complete the cycle in the ninth. He had to settle for a single instead.
KC 66-41 OAK 56-53 MINN 55-54 TEX 51-55 CHI 47-60 CAL 48-62
Those loud explosions you heard last week were the game-winning home runs that boomed all across the division. Philadelphia (5-4) provided the most thunder, starting with a doubleheader sweep of New York in which Greg Luzinski pounded a grand slam in the 7-6 opening win and Mike Schmidt a two-run shot in the 2-0 nightcap. Later in the week skinny Garry Maddox, who lifts weights after every game, showed new muscle by beating Chicago 8-5 with another grand slam. Then it was Schmidt again, his 28th and 29th home runs edging Chicago 7-5. "What the wind giveth, the wind taketh away," Schmidt said after his seventh homer in six Wrigley games this year. "I hit a ball to center as hard as I could two days ago and it was turned into a can of corn. Then I hit one today that was just a fly ball that got up in the wind." The Phils' No. 1 flake, Outfielder Jay Johnstone, had his ups and downs. First Johnstone sprinted all the way home from first on a routine ground single in the 11th to top the Mets, but then against the Cubs he misplayed a fly ball that resulted in three runs.
The Cubs (7-3) also had their share of game-winning homers. Pete LaCock's two-run blow beat the Phils 4-2, Jerry Morales' ninth-inning shot gave Steve Stone a 1-0 win over Montreal and Rick Monday returned to the lineup after a week's layoff to beat the Expos 6-5 with a home run in the 13th inning and 4-3 with one in the 11th.
Although stung often themselves, the Expos had a game winner of their own to celebrate. That had come earlier in a 3-6 week when Jose Morales, the league's best pinch hitter, lifted Montreal to a 5-4 victory over New York with a three-run blow in the eighth. The next night it was the Mets' turn. New York (4-4) was trailing 8-7 in the eighth inning when Ed Kranepool hit his 100th career homer for a 9-8 decision. Kranepool's home run, like two by the Cubs, was off shell-shocked rookie Reliever Joe Kerrigan.
This kind of power display was sorely needed by pitchers in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals (4-4) lost three 2-1 games, two of them in extra innings. Pete Falcone got sufficient support though, shutting out the Pirates 4-0 on four hits and stopping the Phillies 4-1 five days later. Doc Medich of the Pirates (3-5) was not so favored. He lost twice without a run being scored on his behalf. Against the Cardinals he pitched 6? innings of a 4-0 loss and against the Mets he left in the seventh inning of a 4-2 loss trailing 2-0. The Pirates did most of their hitting in one game, a 17-hit attack that racked Tom Seaver and New York 12-3.