In the past, pitchers have used shine balls, emery balls, cut balls and mud balls. Now, courtesy of that allegedly reformed spitballer, Gaylord Perry of Texas (2-4), there is the "puffball." Indian Outfielder Rick Manning claimed that Perry's deliveries were enveloped in "a puff of smoke" that came from liberal applications of rosin he put in his right hand before pitching. The umpires, however, didn't order Perry to cease and desist, and the Rangers huffed and puffed to a 4-1 win.
CHI 11-4 OAK 10-6 TEX 9-6 KC 8-7 MINN 8-8 CAL 7-7 SEA 8-9
Toronto (4-2), the only team in the East with a season record of better than .500, began the week in fourth place and climbed to the top with its fourth consecutive victory over Milwaukee. Barry Bonnell pulled that one out 4-0 with a ninth-inning grand slam. The day before, the Blue Jays had beaten the Brewers 5-3 when Joey McLaughlin pitched four shutout innings of relief. McLaughlin also saved a 5-3 victory over Cleveland by retiring all five batters he faced. Bonnell had three doubles and Otto Velez a three-run homer in that game.
Baltimore (1-5) fell from first to fifth, winning only when Mike Flanagan beat Kansas City 4-0. The Orioles' descent was caused by a lack of punch: their .192 hitting for the week left them with a season average of .211, the lowest in either league.
Also taking a plunge were the Brewers (2-4), who began the week tied with the Orioles for the lead. Milwaukee dropped to fourth even though Robin Yount extended his string of two-hit games to seven. With a runner on first and none out in the 11th against Cleveland, Gorman Thomas, the league's 1979 home-run champ, was given the bunt sign. However, after Victor Cruz wild-pitched the runner to second, the bunt sign was removed. Given the green light, Thomas whaled the daylights out of the next pitch, his home run giving the Brewers a 7-5 victory.
With Willie Randolph batting .500 and Ruppert Jones and Bobby Murcer getting game-deciding hits, New York won four of six. Three of the Yankee victories were by one run over the Orioles; in the first of them, Tommy John gave up only three hits before Goose Gossage came in to get the last out.
The Red Sox (3-3), who hit just five homers the first two weeks, began to connect. Boston beat Chicago 9-8 and Detroit 12-7 as Sox sluggers unloaded three home runs in each game. Because he was the DH against Texas, Carl Yastrzemski had time to work on his problem of "coming up on fastballs" when he swung. Yaz went to the clubhouse between at bats, wrapped a sanitary stocking with tape and had a locker-room attendant lob it to him. "I hit about 50 in there," said Yaz, who then went out, got the fastball he'd been waiting for and drilled it for a single and a 6-5 win.
When he learned of what Yaz had done, slumping Kirk Gibson of Detroit (3-3) tried the same locker-room remedy. It worked, Gibson making Dave Rozema a 2-0 victor over the Rangers with a two-run homer in the eighth.
Texas lost 8-7 to Cleveland (2-4) when hometown boy Jerry Dybzinski, a rookie shortstop, helped the Tribe rally from a 5-0 deficit by homering in his first at bat in Cleveland. Mike Stanton made himself right at home, too. Stanton, who had pitched for five minor league teams and three in Venezuela since he earned his first big league save in 1975, chalked up No. 2 in that game.