San Diego's Ruppert Jones, who at week's end was hitting .264 against righthanders, was benched against lefthanders, who had held him to an .056 average (2 for 36).... Another lefty swinger suffering the same fate was Kansas City's Willie Aikens, who was batting .362 against righties and .071 against southpaws.... Shortstop U.L. Washington of Kansas City was having double trouble: He was hitting only .191 and had already made 11 errors.... Shortstop Johnnie LeMaster of the Giants, though, has found new life since becoming the San Francisco leadoff man this season. LeMaster, who had a .225 average for his first eight seasons, last week was batting .281, with a .404 on-base percentage and 10 steals.... Tommy Herr of St. Louis hit his first major league home run in his 1,161st at bat.... Pitchers who have tried to curb the power of Atlanta's Dale Murphy with outside deliveries have found the tactic doesn't work. The righthanded Murphy, who as of Sunday led the majors in home runs with II, had gotten eight of them by going with the pitch and hitting the ball to right or right-center.
Milwaukee fans who had done too much tailgating before last Friday night's game against Boston must have thought they were seeing double. Both Shortstop Robin Yount and Second Baseman Jim Gantner were wearing No. 19. Gantner's locker is next to Yount's, and he had grabbed the wrong jersey. After Gantner got dressed, he couldn't understand why his teammates were calling him "MVP." Just before the playing of the national anthem, Rightfielder Charlie Moore said to Gantner, who normally wears No. 17, "I wouldn't be wearing that shirt if I were you."
"Why, what's wrong with it?" asked Gantner.
"Take a look."
Gantner did, gasped and, at the completion of the anthem, raced back to the dugout, where Equipment Manager Bob Sullivan was waiting with his real jersey. "I felt like hiding under second base," said Gantner later. "I can't believe they let me go out there."
Nothing has been more vital to Los Angeles, which at week's end was in first place in the National League West, than its improved relief corps. At the same point last year, the Dodger bullpen had a 3-7 record, four saves and a whopping 5.24 ERA. This season the relievers were 10-1 with 14 saves and a 1.85 ERA. Southpaw Steve Howe has been the most effective of the lot; he had not allowed an earned run in 21 innings while picking up seven saves and two victories. So many members of the Los Angeles bullpen throw hard fastballs that Howe has dubbed the crew Canned Heat.
Instead of giving heat, the Padre bullpen has been taking it for an 0-9 record. When Reliever Gary Lucas, who had lost three times in 11 days, came on in the 14th inning against the Pirates, Manager Dick Williams tried to encourage him by saying, "Let's stop those cards and letters from coming." Three pitches later, more mail was presumably on the way, as Jason Thompson tagged Lucas for a game-deciding two-run double.
Since losing its first nine games, Houston had gone 16-12, primarily because of its pen, which had won or saved 10 of the Astros' last 13 victories. Houston's top stopper has been rookie Frank DiPino, who had retired 34 of the last 38 batters he had faced.
Milwaukee Reliever Rollie Fingers, out of action since last September, was encouraged after hurling two 10-minute b.p. stints without pain.... Although he admits his fastball, curve arid change are not what they used to be, Frank Tanana of Texas has found that his pinpoint control still makes him effective. In 16? innings of relief through Sunday, Tanana had given up only one earned run, had fanned 16 batters and had yielded 10 hits.... Baltimore Pitching Coach Ray Miller believes it's the fault of his pitchers that opponents had stolen 26 bases in 35 tries against the Orioles this season. "Ten of those were uncontested," said Miller. "That's ridiculous."
It's no coincidence that on Aug. 1, the day after former Oriole Brooks Robinson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Baltimore will be playing in the annual ceremonial game at Cooperstown. "Five years ago," explains Robinson, "[General Manager] Hank Peters figured out that I'd be up for election this year. So he called [American League President] Lee MacPhail and asked if the Orioles could be the league's representative this year. Lee said O.K."