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The future of Frank Robinson, major league baseball's first and only black manager, has become perilous. As Cleveland's (2-3) season-long slump continued, there were increasing indications that Robinson is on his way out. General Manager Phil Seghi has already contacted California Coach Dave Garcia about the job, but Garcia, who worked under Robinson last season, reportedly turned it down. President Ted Bonda said "only a miracle" could save Robinson. "You can't fire 25 players." Bonda added.
Despite all the rumors in another losing week, Robinson remained calm. "I still believe I'm an effective manager," he said. "The players respect me and my authority. I'm doing the best job I can."
Baltimore (3-3) lost and then regained first place by ending a three-game losing streak with 6-5 and 4-3 wins over New York. "I guess a lot of people are surprised at us," said Manager Earl Weaver, "but I keep telling everyone we're a pretty good club."
Pretty good, it seems, even without an effective Jim Palmer. Though he had no serious physical problems, Palmer was bombed twice. He allowed four runs, two hits and five walks in less than two innings against Seattle, and in his next start against New York gave up five runs, eight hits and six walks in 4? innings. When Weaver pulled his ace the second time, the two exchanged words on the mound. "He's being too fine, and I told him that to try to help him," Weaver said later. "That upset him. He's not getting that first pitch in there and he's overthrowing, but he doesn't want to listen to me."
While Palmer did not want to listen, New York Manager Billy Martin did not want to talk. Following the 4-3 12-inning loss to Baltimore that dropped the Yankees (2-4) into third place, Martin avoided the postgame interview ritual because "There are certain games you just can't talk about. I was mad. I know Billy Martin." Earlier, New York had beaten Baltimore 9-1 on Ed Figueroa's fifth straight complete-game victory.
Boston (3-2) took over second place for the first time this year; at one point, the Red Sox were in a virtual tie for first, only .005 behind Baltimore. The Sox' good play overshadowed the grousing of Pitcher Luis Tiant, who feels he cannot be effective in Manager Don Zimmer's five-man rotation. After yielding three runs in the first three innings of a 15-7 loss to Milwaukee, Tiant asked to be removed, "because I didn't want to be murdered." Later, he explained, "I can't get anybody out when I only pitch once a week. I have no control—nothing." Brewer Rightfielder Sixto Lezcano, on the other hand, seemed to be getting everybody out, as he tied the major league record with 10 putouts.
The Red Sox won the next day, coming from three runs behind in the ninth to triumph 10-9. The winning run came on an error by Milwaukee (4-3) Third Baseman Don Money, but earlier in the week Money had beaten Detroit on a squeeze play. Biggest news for Milwaukee, though, was Out-fielder-DH Dan Thomas being sent down to the minors. With a .271 average, Thomas had been one of the better players on the team despite holding religious convictions that caused him to miss games between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.
A game that did not count was the best thing that happened to Detroit (3-3) all week. Mark Fidrych, sidelined since spring training with a knee injury, worked seven strong innings in a 4-1 exhibition victory over Cincinnati. Fidrych allowed four hits and one run, struck out three and walked only one.
The rookie pitching phenom of this year may be Jerry Garvin of Toronto (3-3). Roy Howell's ninth-inning home run gave Garvin a 4-3 complete-game victory over Texas and a 6-1 record. Headed in the other direction is veteran Bill Singer, who had his shoulder examined after a 5-3 loss to Milwaukee that dropped his record to 2-6.