While players in all the other divisions were still going at it tooth and nail, spitter and slider, the Orioles (3-3) simply sat in the clubhouse and clinched their division. The Brewers did the job for them, by losing 6-3 to Minnesota. The Birds got the news 20 minutes before a scheduled doubleheader with Cleveland. Forty-eight bottles of champagne sat chilling in the refrigerator; clubhouse attendants methodically covered the players' lockers with plastic to guard against sprayed bubbly; and after one loss and a 20-minute rain delay that ended in a postponement of the nightcap, the Birds celebrated.
Earl Weaver had not been idle while waiting for the clincher. He had his scouts busy charting every pitch, every hit, every step taken by a base runner on every possible playoff and Series opponent. And clearly Weaver doesn't intend to lose in the playoffs; his pitchers have been taking batting practice for nearly two months, this being the year for National League rules in the Series.
The Milwaukee loss that did it for Baltimore was one of only two the Brewers suffered in six outings. They beat the Angels 2-1 and swept three from Seattle, scoring 26 runs on 39 hits. "Second place is important, too," said Manager George Bamberger. "I'd like to see us do better than last year." They already have. Gorman Thomas raised his league-leading total of home runs to 43 and set a club record of 116 RBIs. The Brewers have already surpassed—by seven—the team record for homers in a season (173) set last year, and with eight games to go, they were just three wins short of tying 1978's 93.
Don Zimmer finally found someone willing to speak out in his behalf. "Letting Zimmer go is not what's needed here," said Red Sox (4-3) Shortstop Rick Burleson. "We've got to have a couple of more pitchers and no injuries." While management can do little about the latter, they can do a lot about the former as rookie John Tudor, recently called up from the minors, showed. He beat the Tigers 4-1 to become the first lefthanded starter to win a game for the Sox at Fenway since Bill Lee won on July 15 of last year.
The Yankees (2-6) spent the week in the headlines. On Sunday the winners of the last two world championships were mathematically eliminated from the race. What better way to take a fan's mind off that than a good old-fashioned Yankee-style controversy? The New York papers are always willing to oblige. It had to do with Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin. But, then, you already knew that.
It was none other than Sparky Anderson's Tigers (3-3) that had the honor of putting the Yankees to rest, as Lance Parrish hit a bases-loaded single in the 12th inning for an 8-4 win. The real surprise for the Tigers has been rubber-armed Aurelio Lopez, who has more pitches than Anderson has superstitions. Lopez won his ninth game and saved his 20th. "He throws everything at you but his glove," marveled one scout.
Everybody was climbing all over New York. Throwing the traditional blend of fast-balls and curves, Rick Waits of Cleveland (4-2) beat the Yankees 5-1 on five hits, and Cliff Johnson belted two home runs and drove in five runs against his former teammates in a 16-3 win. The Blue Jays (4-4) also joined in the fun. They snapped Ron Guidry's 11-game winning streak and induced New York's Damaso Garcia to hit into a triple play, the third in Jays' history and their second in three weeks. The Yanks hadn't hit into a TP in 26 years. "It happened so fast," said the reeling Garcia. "At least when I hit into a double play, I have time to sit on the bench and think about it."
BALT 99-53 MIL 90-64 BOS 86-66 NY 82-71 DET 82-72 CLEV 78-75 TOR 52-103