- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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NY 65-37 BALT 57-44 DET 55-44 MIL 54-48 CLEV 49-48 BOS 51-50 TOR 44-56
Chicken Little would have said the sky was falling, but opposing pitchers knew it was just another barrage of hits by the Royals (5-1). George Brett batted .500, Willie Wilson .519 and Darrell Porter .524. But they were all outdistanced by Hal McRae's .593 and nine RBIs. Altogether, the Royals hit a remarkable .388 and lifted their season average to .292. If they can stay there, it will be the highest mark since the 1950 Red Sox batted .302. But Kansas City did not live by hits alone. Five double plays helped Larry Gura defeat New York 8-0. The Royals thus concluded their season's series against the Yankees with eight wins in 12 games, with a 90-56 edge in runs and with a .334 to .245 superiority in batting. "I've got four pitches and I can throw them in nine locations," Gura said early in the season. "Plus, I've got eight guys out there to help me. A hitter has[3/10] of a second to make a decision. Technically, there's no reason the other team should get hits. But they do." Those hits, however, have been few and usually far between. A 4-3 triumph over Chicago gave Gura a 15-4 record and a league-leading 2.07 ERA.
Despite trailing by 12� lengths, the A's are "thinking and talking about going all the way," Pitcher Rick Langford said. Langford enabled Oakland (5-1) to bump Texas out of second place with his sixth straight victory, an 11-1 laugher over Toronto in which Wayne Gross had two homers and four RBIs. Speeding up his curveball so that "it's hard to distinguish from my slider" has helped Langford considerably. He retired the first 1.8 Blue Jays in order, finished with a two-hitter, got 16 outs on grounders and threw only 77 pitches, 61 of them strikes. The A's had three other well-pitched games: Matt Keough beat Detroit 4-0; Mike Norris stopped Toronto 5-3; and Brian Kingman and three relievers held off Cleveland 2-1.
During his nine seasons in the league, Buddy Bell of the Rangers (3-4) has hit Red Sox pitching at a .337 pace, 60 points higher than his career average. Last week Bell ripped Boston hurlers again during a 7-5 Texas triumph, going 5 for 5 and raising his season's average against them to .460. Al Oliver was less selective; he bopped pitchers from three clubs as he hit .567.
"Batters know where I'm going to throw the ball, but they don't know the speed," said Geoff Zahn of the Twins (3-3) after beating the Yankees 3-2. A day after Zahn's changes of speed had handcuffed the Yankees, Jerry Koosman kept them off stride by mixing slow curves with changeups and more fastballs than usual. Koosman, who didn't allow a hit over the last 7? innings, finished with a three-hitter and a 2-1 victory.
The bedeviled Angels (4-2) came within a few percentage points of escaping last place. Two home runs and six RBIs by Bobby Grich backed up the shutout pitching of Freddie Martinez and Andy Hassler as California downed Detroit 7-0. And longtime Reliever Dave LaRoche, making his ninth start in 11 years, defeated Toronto 5-4 on five hits.
"I'll keep my sanity, but I don't know how," Seattle Manager Darrell Johnson said. The Mariners (0-7) drove Johnson up a wall, being outhit .308 to .181 and getting only four extra-base hits while opponents had 12 doubles, three triples and eight home runs.
KC 64-39 OAK 52-52 TEX 50-52 MINN 47-56 CHI 45-57 SEA 39-64 CAL 38-63