Two first-place teams are trying to survive key injuries during the stretch run. In St. Louis, cleanup hitter Jack Clark is on the disabled list with a torn rib-cage muscle. Manager Whitey Herzog is worried that Clark might not be ready when he comes off the DL on Sept. 8. He conveyed his concerns to Cincinnati pitching coach Jim Kaat when the two had lunch last week, and Kaat mentioned that the Reds' Cesar Cedeno might be available. Sure enough, the Cards were able to pick up Cedeno for a minor-leaguer.
In Anaheim, meanwhile, the Angels have missed Doug DeCinces, their third baseman and sometime cleanup hitter. Without him, they're 16-21; with him they're 57-36. DeCinces, who has chronic back problems, hurt himself bending for a grounder on Aug. 17. He thought he would be ready last week, but his back stiffened up in a pregame drill. "Where we really miss Doug is defensively," says one Angel. "With Buddy Bell gone, he's the best in the league." His replacement is rookie Jack Howell, who has made seven errors in 31 games. Howell also had his pocket picked while watching a three-card monte game in New York last week.
Qu'est ce que vous avez fait pour moi re-'cemment? or what have you done for me lately? Montreal's Jeff Reardon leads the majors with 33 saves and is the most important reason the team has remained in contention as long as it has. But many of the home folks buried him with boos last week when he gave up five runs in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Giants. These are the same fans who booed Reardon's wife mercilessly two years ago when she was introduced with the other players' wives for a charity event.
After last week's loss, Reardon told newsmen, "I ain't talking to nobody tonight." The next day he explained his silence by saying, "I might have said things I would have regretted later. That was probably my worst outing in an Expos uniform. I was embarrassed, and then the booing made me furious." Can you blame him?
The Twins have an enormous dome-field advantage. Over the last two years, they're 33-14 in the first games of home series, 106-137 the rest of the time. It takes a while to get used to the lights and the exaggerated bounces off the Metrodome's spongy turf.... The Tigers, a first-place team in '84 when they committed just 127 errors, have 124 already this season and are last in the AL in fielding. In a recent game in Anaheim they booted five, three by Chet Lemon, one of the game's best defensive outfielders. He had played more than a year without an error.... Darrell Evans, one of the few Tigers excelling this year, will become the seventh player to hit 30 homers for three different teams the next time he hits one out. Dick Allen, Bobby Bonds, Rocky Colavito, Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman and Frank Robinson are the others.... Yankee third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, a fine fielder and lefthanded hitter, has 13 homers since June 30. Pagliarulo took off when hitting coach Lou Piniella got him to shorten his stroke and switch to a smaller bat.... How bad have the Ranger starters been? Texas just finished a 4-10 road trip, and Charlie Hough was the only starter to go more than six innings. Since July 28, Texas has just two wins from starters other than Hough.... The Rangers are going so badly that the winning run in a game against Chicago scored when Dave Stewart forgot how many outs there were and rolled the ball back to the mound after he completed a double play.
A predicted rain seemed likely to make El Paso's Texas League game with Beaumont a wasted exercise, so El Paso manager Terry Bevington didn't want to use one of his starters in a game that wasn't likely to last more than a couple of innings. He asked for volunteers and reserve outfielder John Gibbons stepped forward. Well, the rains never came, but Gibbons shocked everyone by throwing four perfect innings. He left after six innings of one-hit, one-walk ball, and El Paso went on to win 2-0.
Says Gibbons, "If I don't get a chance in the outfield with the Brewers, I'd be willing to give pitching a shot. I'd do anything to play in the big leagues." Said Bevington, "It was the best-pitched game we've had all year."
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