A tornado was brewing in Kansas City, as the third-place Royals took four of six and began to look like the division's best team. The Royals had a couple of whirlwinds in Leftfielder Willie Wilson and rookie Pitcher Craig Chamberlain. Wilson, who's got all kinds of wheels, helped beat the Orioles 11-7 with a 10th inning, bases-loaded triple and then defeated the Red Sox singlehandedly with a first-inning, inside-the-park homer that accounted for the game's only run and a run-saving throw to the plate. The homer was Wilson's fifth of the year; four have been inside the park. In another win over Boston, Wilson scored two runs, both after stealing second. Chamberlain, 22, got his third victory in three major league starts, beating the Red Sox 4-2 by throwing fastballs 95% of the time. In fact, Royal Catcher Darrell Porter faulted himself for ordering up anything else. "They were hitting his curve early in the game," Porter said. "Then I thought, 'Darrell, you nut, this guy throws heat, so let's go back to the fastball.' He's uncanny. He knows when to take a little off his fastball and when to put a little more zip on it." Said Boston's Fred Lynn, "I can't remember a game when I struck out twice on fastballs."
The Royals had first-place California (3-3) and second-place Minnesota (3-3) running scared. The Angels' problems were obscured by the most one-sided game of the 1979 season—a 24-2 pasting of Toronto in which Don Baylor had a grand slam and a three-run homer. But there were problems. The pitching collapsed as the Angels lost to Cleveland 12-7 and 13-3. The latter was a particularly galling defeat because Nolan Ryan gave up five hits and six runs in 3? innings. The Angels are 16-20 since the All-Star break and have blown leads in 13 of the losses. Minnesota's mediocre record overshadowed Ken Landreaux' .500 hitting, Jerry Koosman's 16th and 17th wins and Roger Erickson's first victory since last September.
The division's hottest team was Seattle (5-1), which swept three from Toronto and is eyeing a fifth-place finish. Mike Parrott had two complete-game victories, becoming the club's second 12-game winner ever, and Willie Horton batted .400. The only bad news was Floyd Bannister's 5-2 loss in Detroit. Bannister has not won on the road since Sept. 29, 1977. In fact, he has not won outdoors since then either, because Seattle, like Bannister's previous team, Houston, plays its home games under a dome. Anticipating Mr. Inside's next start in Cleveland, Manager Darrell Johnson said, "I'm thinking seriously of finding an old Barnum & Bailey circus tent to throw over the stadium and make Floyd think he's indoors."
Chicago (2-3) could use a tent, too. The umpires canceled two consecutive games with the Orioles because a combination of heavy rain and two rock concerts had made Comiskey Park unplayable. Baltimore General Manager Hank Peters blasted White Sox owner Bill Veeck for "lunacy" in scheduling the concerts. Outfielder Chet Lemon went AWOL before a doubleheader in Milwaukee for what seemed to be insufficient reasons. He was upset because two players were allowed to hit ahead of him during batting practice and because teammates had been ribbing him about his poor base running. After Veeck had a fatherly talk with him about his walkout and fined him a day's wages, Lemon returned to the lineup and singled home the winning run against the Brewers.
Oakland won three of seven, including a bizarre 8-6 game with Cleveland. Pitcher Rick Langford gave up six runs in the first third of an inning and seemed headed for an early shower, but Manager Jim Marshall left him in the game. After all, the A's had scored three runs in their half of the inning, and Langford is the club's best pitcher. He proved it by throwing one-hit shutout ball over the last 8? innings.
Manager Pat Corrales of Texas (1-5) wasn't as lucky. The Rangers were leading Milwaukee 3-2 with one out in the ninth and the tying run on base. The batter was lefthanded Ben Oglivie. Corrales had three choices: leave in righthander Doc Medich, or summon either lefthanded Sparky Lyle (4-7, 3.50 ERA, 10 saves) or righthanded bullpen ace Jim Kern (10-4, 1.40 ERA, 20 saves). Corrales decided to go by the book, which says a lefthanded pitcher should always be brought in against a lefthanded batter. Corrales called for Lyle, who promptly gave up a game-losing homer to Oglivie.
CAL 71-58 MINN 67-60 KC 67-61 TEX 62-67 CHI 56-71 SEA 55-74 OAK 41-89
Boston (1-5) was getting squeezed—from above, from below and from within. The second-place Red Sox lost four of five at Minnesota and Kansas City to fall six behind league-leading Baltimore and only two ahead of third-place Milwaukee in the AILC (All-Important Loss Column). At various times the Sox were down to their fifth second baseman (Stan Papi) and sixth catcher (Larry Wolfe). Rookie Gary Allenson, who did most of the catching, made a costly mistake in a loss to the White Sox when he held on to the ball too long and allowed Ralph Garr to escape a rundown. Garr subsequently scored the winning run. Shortstop Rick Burleson wondered if first-string Catcher Carlton Fisk, out with elbow problems, was malingering. "Maybe he should go out there and try rolling the ball to second base," Burleson said. "We busted our butts for 125 games. If he can't play, why is he on the active list? What's going on?"
In Milwaukee, plenty was going on, and most of it was good. The Brewers won six of seven as Mike Caldwell pitched two complete-game victories and Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas each homered twice. "I feel we can win," said General Manager Harry Dalton. "We're playing every game as if there's a championship riding on it." The Brewers have won 12 of their last 14 and have gained five games on Baltimore. Nonetheless, the Orioles (2-2) were bubbling with goodwill. Ken Singleton homered during Mike Flanagan's 3-0 win over Texas. It was Singleton's 31st homer overall and 14th with Flanagan pitching. "I think if Mike was a short reliever and pitched in 65 games, I might challenge the Babe," Singleton said. Reliever Don Stanhouse had some nice words for Shortstop Mark Belanger. A late-inning defensive replacement, Belanger went into the hole to throw out the Rangers' Buddy Bell and preserve a 6-5 win. "He's my idol," said Stanhouse. Manager Earl Weaver deserved plaudits for knowing when to start Kiko Garcia. Despite being in a slump, Garcia played against Texas because he had two hits in three previous at bats against Ferguson Jenkins, who was pitching that night. Garcia doubled to highlight a two-run first inning and slugged a three-run homer in the second.