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THE WEEK (May 18-24)
Herm Weiskopf
June 01, 1981
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June 01, 1981

The Week (may 18-24)

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It was a bummer of a week for Darrell Porter of the Cardinals (3-3). A second medical opinion confirmed that Porter had a slight tear in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder, an injury that will shelve him for at least five weeks. What's more, Porter's house in Kansas City was struck by a storm that caved in the roof and did other damage. In light of Porter's woes, Garry Templeton could hardly complain about his flu. "I'm full of penicillin," Templeton said after he matched Tony Scott's four RBIs as St. Louis outlasted Houston 15-12. When Templeton was rested, Mike Ramsey took his place at shortstop and got three hits to help topple New York 8-2. "I call Ramsey my Cornfield Player because he looks like he came right out of the cornfield to the stadium," Manager Whitey Herzog said. "Always ready to play." John Martin, fresh up from the bushes, was also ready to play, becoming the first Cardinal pitcher to go the route in 14 games as he stopped the Astros 3-1 on a four-hitter.

Philadelphia (3-3) stayed within a game of St. Louis as Mike Schmidt hit three homers, increasing his major league-leading total to 14. One of his drives contributed to a 6-4 defeat of the Pirates and another triggered a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers. Marty Bystrom, 22, outdueled Fernando Valenzuela, 20, in the latter game and won with relief help from Ron Reed. Dick Ruthven stopped Los Angeles 3-2, but Tug McGraw continued to labor. McGraw, who has given up 18 hits and nine walks in 15 innings, lost for the fourth time in relief.

Kent Tekulve of the Pirates (4-1) was another reliever in trouble, losing for the 10th time in a row over two seasons. But Pittsburgh got excellent pitching from Jim Bibby, Rick Rhoden and newcomer Pascual Perez. Bibby muzzled Atlanta 5-0 on one hit, Rhoden combined with Enrique Romo to beat the Braves 6-1 and Perez stifled the Phillies 3-1. Rhoden was backed by two homers and four RBIs by Mike Easier, who batted .556 for the week.

Andre Dawson of the Expos (3-3) went on a spree, too, connecting for his ninth, 10th and 11th round-trippers and batting .583. Tim Raines kept highballing his way around the bases, his seven steals giving him 40 in Montreal's 39 games. And Charlie Lea extended his string of scoreless innings to 28⅓ before a blister on his middle finger forced him to leave after seven runless innings in Chicago, where he earned a 6-3 victory.

The Mets were poised to wrap up a significant accomplishment (for them)—a second consecutive victory—when they lost something. No, they didn't lose the game. What they lost temporarily was Rightfielder Joel Youngblood. One moment Youngblood was in hot but futile pursuit of a long foul fly at Busch Stadium. The next moment Youngblood was gone, nowhere to be seen on the field. What caused his outasight play was that he went right through a partly open door in the fence. Unharmed, Youngblood returned and later said of his disappearance, "I thought the magic was back and I was gone," an allusion to last season's inappropriate Met slogan. The closest the Mets (3-3) came to real magic last week was that two-game winning streak. Youngblood doubled, tripled and had a pair of RBIs as New York beat the Cardinals 9-3 on the day he disappeared. Earlier, his single in the 10th helped the Mets end a nine-game losing streak by downing the Giants 4-3.

William Wrigley, the Cubs' chairman and principal owner, said he was downright embarrassed by his team's performance. He announced that Bob Kennedy had resigned and was being replaced by former Manager Herman Franks as "interim general manager." Said Franks, "I'm here to run the club." Admitted Wrigley, "I'm giving up some of my authority." What did the most good was a 5-1 win over Cincinnati, which broke an eight-game losing streak. Rookie Randy Martz went the distance for Chicago and Leon Durham chipped in with four hits. The Cubs (3-3) also surprised the Expos 6-4 and 6-2. Bill Buckner drove in three runs in the second triumph over the Expos, giving the Cubs a two-game winning streak for the first time this season.

ST.L 22-12 PHIL 24-16 MONT 21-18 PITT 16-17 NY 11-25 CHI 8-28

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As usual, the Dodgers (4-3) got fine pitching from a rookie as they built their lead to 6½ games. What was unusual was that the best pitching was not done by Fernando Valenzuela. This time it was Dave Stewart, a right-handed reliever, who excelled. "Smoke," as Stewart is called because of his sizzling fastball, pitched seven innings, didn't allow a run, fanned nine batters and was the winner in successive extra-inning games in Cincinnati. Two days after his pinch homer in the 10th knocked off the Phillies 3-2, Rick Monday went to the other extreme by coming through with a bunt single in the 12th to help beat the Reds 4-2. The next day, Jay Johnstone's pinch home run in the ninth tied the score at 5-5, and then Ken Landreaux drilled a two-run single in the 10th as L.A. won 9-6. As for Valenzuela, he lost for the first time, bungled a couple of fielding plays and had his ERA zoom from 0.50 to 1.24. Valenzuela's victory streak ended at 10 as Philadelphia beat him 4-0, even though he gave up only three hits in seven innings. He then yielded eight hits, six walks and five runs (four earned) in eight innings in Cincinnati before Johnstone's homer took him off the hook. The week wasn't a total loss for Valenzuela, however. He signed a $50,000 contract for the sale of posters of himself.

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