More and more, Jim Rice of Boston (5-1), who leads the majors in homers with 11 and is batting .363, is becoming the most-feared hitter in the league. Kansas City Manager Whitey Herzog tried to stop Rice by massing four outfielders against him, putting Third Baseman Jerry Terrell in leftfield and shifting Second Baseman Frank White to third. "What I'd like is a couple guys on top of the fence in left," Herzog said. After Jim Colborn of the Royals plunked Rice with a pitch in the fifth inning in Boston, the Red Sox slugger stalked to the mound and had a few words with the pitcher. Colborn later said, "When I saw him coming, I thought I might become Rice-A-Roni." What Colborn did become was a 4-3 loser. Rice made sure of that when he came up in the seventh and tagged a Colborn pitch so far that it could not have been caught even if a couple of Royals had been stationed on top of the fence. Rice's clout sailed far over Fenway's screen for his fourth hit in six at bats against Herzog's overstuffed outfield. Mike Torrez was a two-time winner, stifling Chicago 5-0 and Minnesota 4-2 as the Red Sox moved into first place.
After almost a month atop the East, the Tigers (1-3) fell back as their bullpen repeatedly failed to hold leads. Milt Wilcox was the only Detroit pitcher who did not have to be bailed out, hurling a five-hitter to down Oakland 4-0.
Catfish Hunter of New York (3-1) has endured a great deal in the past few seasons: arm trouble, a ballooning ERA and the news that he had diabetes, as well as his teammates' practice of kidding him about his proclivity for giving up homers (Centerfielder Mickey Rivers once strapped an umpire's chest protector to his back before a game in which Hunter was to pitch). But Catfish, who started the week with a 7.20 ERA, finally had reason to feel better, allowing only one single in six innings as he and Reliever Sparky Lyle curbed the Twins 3-1. Further cheering the Yankees were four innings of hitless relief by Rich Gossage and a 12th-inning homer by Chris Chambliss in a 3-2 defeat of the Rangers.
Cleveland (4-1) reached .500 and bumped Milwaukee (1-4) out of fourth place. Mike Vail's single in the ninth gave the Indians a 5-4 win over the Mariners. Mike Paxton was a 4-3 winner against Nolan Ryan and the Angels; Reliever Jim Kern and Rightfielder Jim Morris saved that game, Kern with strong relief and Norris with a belly-flopper catch that kept the tying run from scoring in the ninth. Milwaukee's lone win was a 6-1 conquest of Chicago in which rookie Andy Replogle tossed a five-hitter.
Jim Palmer of Baltimore (2-3) lost twice, giving up 14 hits, 11 runs and eight walks in 7? innings. He was also slapped with a fine by General Manager Hank Peters for leaving the park before the game was over after his first shellacking. The Orioles also suffered the loss of Outfielder Al Bumbry, possibly for the season, with a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibula. On the brighter side. Mike Flanagan struck out 10 batters, and Eddie Murray swatted a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Orioles nipped the Red Sox 3-2. And Scott McGregor, retiring 16 batters on grounders, worked his way to a 5-1 victory over the Rangers.
Toronto (3-2) equaled its longest-ever winning streak with three consecutive complete-game victories (a Blue Jay record). Tom Underwood began the streak by taming the A's 4-0 on five hits and nine strikeouts. Jim Clancy, who "rediscovered" his fastball, then downed Oakland 3-1 with a six-hit effort. Jesse Jefferson followed with an 8-3 verdict over Seattle. Rico Carty, who batted .400, had four hits in that game, and John Mayberry walloped a three-run homer.
BOS 21-11 DET 17-9 NY 17-11 CLEV 14-14 MIL 13-16 BALT 12-17 TOR 11-19
After his A's (2-3) had dropped their fourth consecutive game, owner Charlie Finley phoned Manager Bobby Winkles and told him to rearrange his lineup. Thus it was that Winkles had Mario Guerrero bat fourth, Gary Alexander seventh and Gary Thomasson ninth. Next time out the A's, who in the previous four outings had scored just one run and had only 20 hits, pounded out 16 hits and used a seven-run ninth to overhaul the Tigers 10-4. The biggest contributors to the onslaught were Guerrero, Alexander and Thomasson, who combined for eight hits and four RBIs in 11 trips to the plate. Alexander had four of those hits, including two doubles and his ninth home run. The next day Oakland was held hitless for seven innings by Detroit's Dave Rozema, but Guerrero opened the eighth with a single. Dave Revering homered and the A's scored a third run to pull out a 3-2 win. Reliever Elias Sosa earned his fifth save-that day as the surprising A's led the West by 2� games.