There were optimistic predictions from both sides before the A's met the Royals (6-1). "I guarantee they won't get five hard-hit balls if I'm out there nine innings," said Oakland righthander Mike Norris. An even more precise forecast came from Kansas City's Willie Mays Aikens, who said that teammate Rich Gale, who had lost seven times in a row since last August, would win 1-0 with a five-hitter and that Willie himself would drive in the run. As it turned out, both predictions were on target. Norris gave up only four hits in eight innings, but the Royals won 1-0 as Gale and two relievers allowed five hits. Sure enough, Ai-kens picked up the RBI. The Royals set a league record when they began a 5-3 win over the Angels with five straight hits. Dan Quisenberry got the save and afterward some advice by phone from another sidearm reliever who had watched the game on television. The man on the line was Pittsburgh's Kent Tekulve, who had first given Quisenberry some useful tips during the off-season. This time Tekulve called to alert him that his wrist was too low when he threw his slider. Thus informed. Quiz earned another save and two wins as the Royals moved into first place.
After Francisco Barrios of the second-place White Sox (3-3) pitched 5? innings to earn a 6-5 triumph over the Mariners, he was sent to the minors. This was done so that Barrios, who is recuperating from shoulder surgery, could pitch himself into shape during the impending strike. When the strike was avoided, the Sox found they had outsmarted themselves, because under major league rules Barrios cannot be recalled until June 1.
Three fine pitching efforts kept the Rangers (3-4) in the thick of the chase. Sparky Lyle's 5? innings of scoreless relief, plus a 10th-inning single by Jim Norris, took care of New York 5-4. Danny Darwin was even better, fanning 10 Angels in 6? innings of shutout relief as the Rangers won 12-6. And a two-hitter gave Ferguson Jenkins the 250th win of his career, by a 3-1 score over Oakland.
During a three-game span, the A's (2-5) stole 10 bases, including five by Rickey Henderson, who leads the league with 19.
Seattle (4-2) hitters were so hot that their bats were smoking. Well, at least Leon Roberts' were. After Roberts had two hits and three broken bats during Rich Honeycutt's 8-0 shutout of the White Sox, teammate Ted Cox tossed the splintered lumber into the clubhouse garbage can and set it afire.
Ken Landreaux of the Twins (2-4) kept what he had found—his batting stroke—and Geoff Zahn found what he had been looking for—his sinker. By running his hitting streak to a club-record 25 games, Landreaux raised his average to .359. Zahn, who'd had arm trouble for a couple of years, had been having difficulty getting his fastball to sink this season because his recovered arm felt so strong that he was muscling the ball. Against Chicago, however, Zahn's fastball began dipping once again, and he got 14 outs on grounders while winning 3-2.
From 1975 through 1977, Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana gave the Angels (3-4) the best righty-lefty pitching combination in baseball as they won a total of 100 games. But megabucks have lured Ryan to the Astros, and Tanana, racked by arm miseries for two seasons, last week reached his nadir. In two starts, he retired only four batters and was pummeled for 11 hits and 12 runs.
KC 23-16 CHI 22-18 OAK 21-19 TEX 20-19 SEA 21-20 CAL 16-22 MINN 16-24