- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"We think we're for real, but I don't believe all the fans do," said Rick Waits of the Indians (3-4). The Tribe was real enough to defeat the Angels 7-3 and Yankees by the same score as Bo Diaz had three RBIs in each game, and on Sunday won 12-5 in New York by pounding out a total of 13 hits. Dan Spillner went eight innings to beat California, and Bert Blyleven and John Denny polished off New York.
Most of Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson's smiles were limited to the night he was' roasted at a hospital charity event. There the white-haired Anderson was characterized as "a 5'8" Q-Tip." And sportscaster Al Ackerman said, "Sparky came here two years ago promising to build a team in his own image, and now the club is looking for small, white-haired infielders with .212 batting averages." Fortunately for the Tigers (4-3), they had a different image in mind, seven of them banging out two hits apiece during a 16-hit assault that led to a 14-1 drubbing of the Rangers. Anderson was given plenty to smile about on Sunday—an 8-2, 5-3 sweep of Baltimore. Steve Kemp drove across four runs in the opener and Lance Parrish slugged a pair of home runs in the nightcap. Lengthy shutout relief jobs were vital, too, Kevin Saucier going four strong innings in the first game against the Orioles and Dave Tobik pitching 5⅓ innings in the second.
Mindful that his optimistic statements had invariably been followed by Brewer collapses, Manager Buck Rodgers remained mum even when his team's victory streak reached six games. His silence didn't turn out to be golden. After two losses to Boston, Rodgers said, "Now even keeping my mouth shut doesn't help." What did help the Brewers (5-2) were two saves by Rollie Fingers, 11 hits by Jim Ganter and Gorman Thomas' 10th, 11th and 12th home runs. Charlie Moore's double and Ted Simmons' sacrifice fly in the 14th inning carried Milwaukee to a 2-1 triumph over Boston in Sunday's first contest. And then Thomas and Cecil Cooper both homered and drove in three runs as the Brewers took the second game 10-7.
Instead of counting sheep on sleepless nights, Toronto Manager Bobby Mattick can count his team's errors: nine last week left the Blue Jays (1-6) with 42 in 42 games. On second thought, such counting might make Mattick an insomniac. But what choice does he have? Should he count his players' hits, which have been so infrequent that Toronto has a .213 average for the season, by far the worst in the league? Presumably Mattick slept well after Otto Velez and John Mayberry homered to knock off Chicago 9-5.
BALT 24-14 CLEV 21-13 NY 23-16 MIL 22-17 BOS 22-18 DET 20-20 TOR 12-30
Billy Martin and his stumbling A's (4-4) had their lead trimmed to three games. But after a third straight loss in Milwaukee, Martin didn't rant and rave. Instead he treated his players to dinner and a round of drinks. When the losing ways continued in Boston, Martin didn't blow his top. He merely said, "I'm going to St. Cecilia's [a Boston church] to get this thing straightened out. This streak will end when good luck rejoins us." Although good fortune eluded him in Baltimore, Martin kept his cool. He even spoke of his least-favorite people—umpires—in a light vein. If nothing else, Martin pointed out, the A's losing streak had caused the umps to stop harassing his staff about its suspected use of illegal pitches. Said Martin, "Until now, they were going to put our uniforms in plastic bags and pick 'em up with pliers, untouched by human hands. They were going to send out police dogs to try to detect Vaseline." When Martin showed up with a cast on his thumb, he explained that he had injured himself lifting a suitcase. He took the inevitable cracks with equanimity. Then, at long last, there was something Martin could delight in—a 6-2 victory over Toronto that snapped Oakland's eight-game skid. The next day, Matt Keough was working on a three-hit shutout in the ninth before the Blue Jays scored twice to knot the score at 2-2. The A's Jeff Jones went the final 6⅓ scoreless innings and won 3-2 in the 15th when Mitchell Page raced home from third on a shallow sacrifice fly by Rickey Henderson. On Sunday, Tony Armas slugged his 10th and Nth homers as Oakland beat Toronto 6-5 and 5-0, the shutout going to Mike Norris.
Kansas City Manager Jim Frey underwent a sort of personality transformation, too, one the opposite of Martin's. The usually tranquil Frey, angered when Umpire Dale Ford ejected him for complaining about a called strike on Willie Wilson in New York, slammed his cap to the ground, kicked it several times and also scuffed dirt on Ford's trousers, home plate and on Yankee Catcher Barry Foote. Foote responded by throwing a handful of dirt at Frey. After the game, Frey "blew up in the clubhouse," according to Second Baseman Frank White. Frey also chewed out Clint Hurdle for having sung in the dugout when the Yankee Stadium organist played New York, New York between innings. Three one-run setbacks did nothing to get the Royals out of the Freying pan. Neither did a club-record stretch of 30 scoreless innings by Kansas City, which was finally broken when Wilson singled in the 15th for a 1-0 win over Minnesota. Paul Splittorff went the first 11 innings for the Royals and Renie Martin pitched the last four.
Like Keough, Bryan Clark of Seattle (2-5) had a shutout entering the ninth—a two-hitter against Texas—before he tired. Bill Stein, a former Mariner, tied a league mark in that game with his sixth pinch hit in a row, and John Ellis added a three-run pinch double to tie the score at 4-4. Stein tormented Seattle once more that night, doubling in two runs in the 12th as the Rangers (4-2) won 6-4.
With Bill Almon batting .478 and Harold Baines .480, second-place Chicago (5-1) hit .333 for the week and raised its team average to .294, tops in the majors. Greg Luzinski had a pair of two-homer games and 12 RBIs for the revitalized White Sox.