"I can't remember three young arms coming up to a team that's fighting for a division title and doing what they have done," said Boston Manager Don Zimmer. The three—Don Aase, Mike Paxton and Bob Stanley—enabled the Red Sox (6-0) to move into first place. Aase, whose home is in Anaheim, Calif., blanked the Angels there l-O on three hits in his second big league start. Next time out, in Oakland, Aase gave up five hits and one run in seven innings. Having thrown 103 pitches at that point, he was relieved by Bill Campbell, who protected Aase's 2-1 lead and got his 18th save. Paxton, with relief help from Stanley, defeated Seattle 12-4. The Red Sox slugged five homers in that game, Jim Rice connecting for his 28th and 29th, George Scott his 27th, Butch Hobson his 21st and Bernie Carbo his 11th, a grand slam. As if inspired by the young pitchers, Ferguson Jenkins beat Oakland 3-1 on three hits, and Luis Tiant gave up only five singles as he muffled the A's 1-0. All of which stretched Boston's winning streak to nine games. Eight of those triumphs came away from home as the Red Sox were enjoying their most successful road trip since 1939, when they ran off 12 wins in a row during a 17-5 junket.
Dropping back 2½ games were the Orioles (2-3). After being knocked out in the third inning of a 6-1 loss in Seattle, Jim Palmer revealed, "I've had pain in my forearm since June 1. That's why I haven't had good velocity the last two months. Something's got to be done." Rudy May (12-9) chalked up his 100th career victory when he downed the A's 5-1. Baltimore's other win also came in Oakland, an 8-6 game in which rookie switch-hitter Eddie Murray homered from each side of the plate. Ken Singleton, who was 8 for 17, drove in three of his seven runs in that contest.
Controversy continued to hound the Yankees (2-4). Pitcher Don Gullett's expensive left arm was ailing, and he was having a problem with grass. It was not the stuff on American League infields, but marijuana, 2,800 pounds of which were found flourishing on Gullett's Kentucky farm. Police confiscated the crop but insisted Gullett was not suspected of being involved in the pot plot. Multiple woes also plagued Reggie Jackson. An official complaint was issued against him on behalf of a Bronx youth, who said Jackson kicked him outside Yankee Stadium following the All-Star Game. After rumors circulated that Jackson had an escape clause that would permit him to terminate his five-year contract at the end of this season, New York President Gabe Paul issued a firm denial. A man planning to open a sausage shop in Baltimore began plugging a 25¢ item he intends to put on his menu—a "Reggie Jackson," which, the man explained, "is a two-bit hot dog." The most productive Yankee was Mickey Rivers, who hit .464.
All four wins by Toronto (4-2) came against Milwaukee (1-6). Two of them went to Dave Lemanczyk (10-9), who has a chance to break the record of 13 wins by a pitcher with an expansion club that was established in 1969 by Gene Brabender of Seattle. Ron Fairly walloped his 200th lifetime homer, a three-run drive that newcomer Jim Clancy made stand up for a 3-2 win over the Brewers. Milwaukee dropped to sixth place, beating Cleveland 7-4 for its lone victory. A $6 million refinancing scheme was being worked out for the debt-ridden Indians (3-4), who have lost 22 of 31 games. But the Indians did advance to fifth place by taking a doubleheader from the Brewers, Dennis Eckersley winning the first game 9-2 and Wayne Garland the second 7-4.
Dave Rozema of the Tigers (2-4) beat the Twins 4-2 for his fourth straight victory. That left rookie Rozema with an 11-4 record, which was Mark Fidrych's record at this point a year ago. Ron LeFlore, who had a 30-game hitting streak last season, stretched his latest string to 13 games with a double and game-winning homer in a 6-5 squeaker over Texas.
BOS 63-43 BALT 61-46 NY 59-49 DET 48-58 CLEV 46-59 MIL 47-62 TOR 38-68
Willie McCovey and Manny Mota, both 39, and Phil Niekro, 38, remained frisky. During a 9-2 romp in Montreal, McCovey drove in five runs for San Francisco (2-4) with his 18th and 19th homers. One of those blasts was Stretch's 18th grand slam, extending his league record and putting him five back of Lou Gehrig's major league mark. McCovey raised his RBI figure to 57 and his batting average to .281 when he drove in two runs as the Giants trimmed the Mets 7-3. Rookie Randy Elliott set a club record with a pinch homer, the Giants' eighth of the season.
With his ninth pinch hit in 19 at bats this year, Mota increased his career total to 115 and took over third place on the alltime list. Also doing some hitting for the Dodgers (2-4) was Pitcher Tommy John, who singled twice while topping the Mets 7-2 for his sixth straight win. But the lustiest batters were Reggie Smith (.483) and Bill Russell (.400).
Niekro, who leads the league with 171 strikeouts, pitched the Braves (3-4) to a 3-1 win and fanned 11 Expos. Atlanta got further support from Eddie Solomon, who beat Pittsburgh 8-3 and Montreal 5-2, and from Jeff Burroughs, who hit four home runs to give him 28.