The Yankees (5-2) were both good and lucky. They beat the Red Sox 3-0 when Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage combined on a four-hitter, and got by Cleveland 4-3 when Ron Hassey's line drive struck Indian base runner Toby Harrah on the hip. Harrah, in fair territory about 30 feet down the third-base line, was automatically retired for the last out of the game. The second-place Orioles (3-3) were understandably cynical. "I wonder how they won this time," Reliever Tim Stoddard said the following night upon hearing that the Yankees had beaten Cleveland 5-4. " Fred Stanley probably batted for Reggie Jackson and hit a grand slam." Offered Pitcher Mike Flanagan, "Maybe they activated Yogi Berra and he went deep." Not so, insisted Coach Frank Robinson. "A strikeout pitch hit [Indian catcher] Gary Alexander on the head," he said, "and by the time [Centerfielder] Rick Manning ran it down, four runs scored." Actually, pinch hitter Eric Soderholm singled home two runs in the ninth.
Cleveland's play helped the Yankees open a 5�-game lead with seven left. After losing three of four to New York—Yankee-killer Rick Waits beat his patsies 5-0—the Indians (3-4) twice defeated Baltimore. Still, the Orioles had no one to blame but themselves. On two occasions Scott McGregor failed to win his 20th game. In his first attempt, a 5-3 loss to Boston, Baltimore wasted 12 hits, stranded 10 runners and grounded into three double plays. In the second, McGregor blew a 4-0 lead and lost 6-5 to Cleveland. Red Sox (3-3) play ranged from pitiful, two key errors costing them an 8-6 defeat at Baltimore, to near perfect, in Dennis Eckersley's one-hitter against Toronto.
The Blue Jays (2-4) avoided a 100-loss season for the first time in their four-year history when Lloyd Moseby's four hits beat Detroit 6-5. In another notable baseball first, a Tiger (3-3) home game was delayed 18 minutes because the umpires' underwear was still in the dryer. At times the Tigers played as if they, too, were all wet. In a 9-7 loss to Toronto, Detroit pitchers threw four wild pitches and walked in a run; Catcher Lance Parrish was guilty of a passed ball; and Third Baseman Stan Papi committed two errors.
As usual, Milwaukee had hitting. Cecil Cooper batted .500, and Ben Oglivie took over the league home-run lead, at 38, by clubbing an inside-the-park grand slam to beat Oakland 10-7. But, owing to typically weak relief pitching, the Brewers had a 2-4 week. In consecutive losses of 7-5 to Seattle and 7-3 to California, the bullpen gave up seven runs in 7? innings.
NY 99-56 BALT 93-61 BOS 81-70 MIL 83-73 DET 79-75 CLEV 77-77 TOR 64-90
Despite being the first team to clinch a divisional title, Kansas City (0-6) was concerned. Going into the week, the Royals had won 69% of their games with George Brett in the lineup, but while he went 4 for 23 and slipped from .396 to .384, they went on a seven-game losing streak. Plainly, letting George do it won't get K.C. through the playoffs. "The biggest thing in my mind is getting the pitching staff organized and the players in the right frame of mind," said Manager Jim Frey. He was succeeding at neither. When Rich Gale was sidelined by an ailing right shoulder and his replacement, Renie Martin, gave up seven runs in 3? innings against Seattle, Frey wondered where he'd get a fourth starter. The players, meanwhile, were worried about Frey's insistence on keeping starters in the lineup. "He wants to win every game," said a veteran. "That's impossible. Besides, you heed some rest after a long season."
Despite being the first team eliminated from a divisional race, Seattle (6-1) was elated. The Mariners extended their club-record winning streak to six by sweeping a three-game series with the Royals and beating Texas twice. The week's heroes were Glenn Abbott (two wins), Mike Parrott (two saves) and Willie Horton (three homers, his 1,990th hit and seven runs batted in).
Texas (1-6) could have used some tips from somebody. The Rangers' latest losing streak reached eight when the Mariners welcomed back Ferguson Jenkins from his controversial 14-day suspension by ripping him 7-2. The Texas and Seattle streaks ended when the Rangers beat the Mariners 7-3 as Al Oliver hit in his 16th straight game.