- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The crowds at Fenway Park cheered for Yaz' 3,000th hit, but they lit into Manager Don Zimmer and owners Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux. And why not? The team had lost 18 of 25 and had nothing to look forward to except 1980. A second highlight of the week took place in Baltimore. Bob Watson singled, doubled, tripled and homered—in that order—to become the first Red Sox player to hit for the cycle since 1968, when Yaz himself performed the feat. The Sox, who were 3-4, beat the Orioles in that game, but they also lost two to the Birds (3-4), both to Steve Stone, who has won eight of his last 10. Manager Earl Weaver's main worry was the Birds' hitting. "This is the most nerve-racking time of the year," he said. "I keep telling people there is a long way to go." With an 11-game lead, not many people believe him.
Milwaukee (3-3) doesn't. At least, not Pitcher Moose Haas, who said, "To be realistic, we're not going to finish first. So we have to battle it out with Boston now." Some of that battling was done with fists, but with the Angels. For the second straight week Lary Sorensen threw balls at Dan Ford. Ford retaliated by throwing a bat at Sorensen, and players from both benches threw punches at everyone else—except Frank Howard, the Brewers' 6'7", 285-pound first-base coach.
Exactly one year after the Yankees (3-3) moved into first place after trailing the Red Sox by 14 games, they were just two behind Boston but in fourth. The season was lost for the team but not for the players. Ron Guidry struck out 11 Red Sox to win his 11th straight and 17th this year. In an effort to help Ron get to 20, Billy Martin offered him a shot at an easy win by taking over for an injured Don Hood in the second inning with the Yanks leading Detroit 5-0. True to character, Guidry declined in favor of Ron Davis, who, with a 12-2 record and eight saves has a chance to be Rookie of the Year. "It wouldn't be fair," said Guidry. Davis got the win. That was the Tigers' (4-1) only loss. In their previous four games they outscored their opponents 25-6.
Bobby Bonds of the Indians (1-4) asked to be relieved of his outfield duties. The boo birds, he said, were getting to him. After conferring with the front office, Bonds found himself as a DH. With the score tied 10-10 in the bottom of the ninth, Bonds stepped to the plate—far from the jeering crowd—and hit a grand slam off Toronto's Tom Buskey, giving the Indians a record eight for the season. The Blue Jays (4-2) scarcely had time to mourn the loss. They beat Baltimore—twice. They hadn't done it once since Aug. 8, 1978, when Tom Underwood got the win. He got another, and rookie Butch Edge followed with a six-hitter the next night. It was only the third winning week for the Jays this year.
BALT 96-50 MIL 86-62 BOS 82-63 NY 80-65 DET 79-69 CLEV 74-73 TOR 48-99
"What it boils down to is, nobody in this division has played championship-caliber baseball," said Manager Gene Mauch after his Twins (4-4) had split a series with the Royals. "Somebody will be champion, yes, but nobody's played championship baseball." Indeed they haven't. At the end of the week the first-place Angels (2-3) had a won-lost percentage of only .547. In the East they would be in fifth place, 16 games out, and in either National League division, they would be third.
It was a frustrating week for Mauch. On Monday in Kansas City, with the score tied 5-5 in the 13th, the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out. But the Royals escaped unscathed, helped by a short-to-home-to-third double play that Manager Whitey Herzog called the most unusual he'd seen in his 30 years in baseball. Had Mauch ever witnessed anything like it? After watching his team lose the game in the 14th, Mauch glumly replied, "I may have—before I started junior high."
The Angels beat the Brewers twice but lost twice to the surprising White Sox (4-2). Nolan Ryan lasted just 14 pitches in an 8-7 loss, giving up five runs on four hits in a third of an inning and Chris Knapp survived only two-thirds of an inning, losing 11-5.