- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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It seemed all too familiar—the Green Monster, the Jimmy Fund billboard, the booing fans. Don Zimmer was back in Fenway Park, but in the visitors' dugout. "I didn't know where to stand," said Zim, who had-spent seven years as a coach and manager in the other dugout and was making his Fenway debut in a Texas uniform that day. But the Rangers (2-3) let him down, losing 4-2, and 10-4 the following night, before allowing him to leave Boston with his head held high after a 16-8, 18-hit slugfest in which every Texas batter except Mickey Rivers had at least two hits. The Rangers got 22 more hits and 11 runs in splitting two games in Cleveland.
As the Oakland (6-0) onslaught continued, the bullpen got its first save; the team had a day off (it had played 15 games over 14 consecutive days since the season opened); and—horrors—the A's allowed Seattle to score four runs on two consecutive days. But the pitchers added five more complete-game victories.
The Mariners (1-5), the only team to beat the A's this year, lost three straight to Oakland despite home runs by Richie Zisk in each game. Seattle's win came on Floyd Bannister's two-hit 3-0 shutout of the Angels for Seattle's first complete game of the season.
The Twins (2-5) were looking forward to not having Billy Martin to kick them around anymore. They had lost seven straight to the CG squad. California (4-3) beat the Mariners and Twins twice each, rookie Mike Witt two-hitting Minnesota 7-1.
While Martin's A's were getting most of the attention, Tony LaRussa's White Sox (6-0) kept winning—to the tune of .769—but were still 4� games back. After their shelling of the Orioles, Manager Earl Weaver marveled, "They sure got a lot of hits, didn't they? They hit 'em up the middle, down the line, under our gloves, in front of us and over us." LaRussa admitted to a touch of worry over his staff. "They've got to learn how to pitch when they're ahead," he said.
The Royals (1-5) wish they had that problem. The American League champions are off to the worst start in the history of the franchise. The club that hit .286 last year is at .248. The Royals scored just 26 runs in their first 12 games, and when they did get a lead, their pitchers couldn't hold it. George Brett was hitting .205; Willie Wilson was getting thrown out on attempted steals (twice in just three attempts); and the team ERA was 3.86. Manager Jim Frey first tried extra batting practice, then canceled a scheduled batting session. He closed the clubhouse and gave a pep talk. But the players professed not to care about Oakland's big lead. They beat the Yankees in the playoffs last year, remember?
OAK 17-1 CHI 10-3 CAL 8-9 TEX 6-7 KC 3-9 MINN 4-11 SEA 4-12
It was an omen. Superstitious Manager Sparky Anderson should have known that. His Tigers (0-6) were batting .281, had a 7-2 record and were in first place. They came to New York to face the third-place Yankees. A 27-mph wind chilled the 44� temperature to 19�, and then it happened. The hibachi in the runway, used to warm the Tiger bats, died. And so did the Tigers. They lost three games to the Yankees and three more to the White Sox. Their bats never did warm up, producing just 10 runs in those six games.