Kansas City's John Mayberry is a left-handed pull hitter, and the opposition always plays him strong to the right side of the field. "Bunt, go to left," people have been telling the big first baseman all year. But even though his average plummeted to around .230, Mayberry has steadfastly refused. "Nah, man," he says. "They want me to give up my power." For a while last week, Mayberry was giving up everything. A three-base throwing error helped New York to a 5-3 victory, and an 0-for-18 stretch at the plate helped the Royals to a 3-4 week. "I just pop up everything I swing at," Mayberry said. But he continued to go for the right-field fence, and on Saturday it finally paid off—a homer, double and single that drove in five runs in a 15-3 win over Detroit. The victory went to Dennis Leonard, his 15th of the season and second of the week.
The Royals' timing could not have been better because Oakland is now playing "our best ball of the season," according to Manager Chuck Tanner. The A's (7-0) ran their unbeaten streak to eight games last week and cut four games off KC's lead. Vida Blue won twice, beating Milwaukee and Boston, and weary Rollie Fingers appeared in five games. "I need rest," Fingers said. "I've got about 48 bottle caps on my elbow." And 18 saves to his credit. The A's were doing so well that the players were complaining again. After singling home the winning run in a game against the Brewers, Gene Tenace proclaimed. "There's no way I'll be with this club next year. I make $40,000 less than some backup catchers."
Texas began to wake up from a deep sleep by winning five of eight. Three pitchers who had not won in more than five weeks racked up victories: Nelson Briles beat Detroit 8-1, Jim Umbarger edged Cleveland 2-1 and Steve Foucault nipped the Indians 4-3 in relief.
Minnesota dropped five of six games and got just what it deserved when the Twins management made suggestion boxes available to the fans. "Move, sell and bring back the Minneapolis Millers," wrote one. "Do the same things you did when the team won eight straight games," advised another. Bill Singer's five-hit 2-0 win over Baltimore provided the only relief.
Chicago began the week in short pants and finished it in tatters. The White Sox wore the shorts in a 5-2 victory over the Royals, then returned to standard issue and lost five of their next six games. But it may have been worth it just to see Ralph Garr's knees. "Hey, Ralph," John Mayberry teased. "You get over to first and I'm going to kiss you." As it happened, Ralph did, John didn't.
California did not do much either, dropping five of seven. Frank Tanana was the top banana, two-hitting Boston 6-0. "He's one of the five best pitchers in baseball," said Red Sox Manager Don Zimmer. "And mean like Don Drysdale," added Angel skipper Norm Sherry. "He goes after hitters just the way Don did."
KC 69-45 OAK 63-53 TEX 56-58 MINN 56-59 CHI 49-65 CAL 50-67
The new Bronx Burglars were like the bombers of old last week. New York (5-2) had lost four straight games when Thurman Munson turned things around with an 11th-inning home run to beat Kansas City 2-1. This blow sparked a five-game winning streak that featured two home runs by Graig Nettles in a 9-3 win over Minnesota and a decisive sixth-inning homer by Roy White, which edged the Twins 5-4. Earlier, Catfish Hunter snapped his own four-game losing skid with a 12-5 defeat of the Twins to run his record to 13 and 12.