Texas had three chances to move into first place, but the Rangers (2-5) couldn't pull the trigger. Worst of all, a shot fired by Ferguson Jenkins a week earlier ricocheted from Toronto to Arlington. What Jenkins had said after stopping the Blue Jays was: "Everybody beats Toronto." The nettled Jays made Jenkins eat crow by handing him a 3-0 loss and then beat the Rangers again, 9-3.
Billy Ball took a backseat to Oakland's newfound Long Ball. A homer and four RBIs by Dwayne Murphy decked the Indians and put the A's (3-4) in first place briefly. Steve McCatty breezed past Baltimore 10-0 with the support of four home runs, two by Tony Armas. Another blast by Armas, his league-leading 21st, plus an 11th-inning smash by Cliff Johnson, his 15th, downed the Birds 5-4. That was Oakland's 19th four-bagger in 11 games.
"For the the Royals to win, they have to run, run, run," said Dick Howser, who replaced Jim Frey as the manager in Kansas City (3-4). The Royals ran well while defeating the Brewers 3-1, Darryl Motley legging out an infield hit and U.L. Washington and Willie Wilson adding back-to-back bunt singles during the winning rally.
It was no puzzle why the White Sox (1-6) fell from first to fifth. Ron LeFlore missed a bunt sign and failed to put the possible go-ahead run in scoring position in a game Detroit won 2-1 in the ninth—with the aid of a sacrifice bunt. Three errors led to a 3-1 loss to Toronto. It took an RBI double in the ninth by Greg Luzinski to defeat the Blue Jays 4-3.
Mickey Hatcher slammed a two-run homer in the sixth, tripled in the tying run in the eighth and scored the winner on a squeeze bunt by Rob Wilfong as the Twins (1-6) beat the Yankees 4-3.
It had long been suspected that Dan Ford of the Angels (2-5) was a "corker," i.e., someone who hollows out his bat and fills it with cork. Last week the tip of Ford's bat flew off, and everyone saw that there was, indeed, cork in the barrel. Ford was ejected and may receive an added penalty from the league office.
Seattle (3-4) capitalized on clutch hitting and nifty relief pitching, both of which had been rare commodities the past two weeks. Lenny Randle's ninth-inning homer and Larry Andersen's two shutout innings beat Baltimore 4-3, ending a string of 10 defeats. Then the Mariners beat the Red Sox 8-7 in the longest game in the 69-year history of Fenway Park. Boston scored three times in the ninth to tie it at 7-7, and then both teams put up nothing except zeros for the next 10 innings before a curfew halted play at 1:16 a.m. When play resumed the next night, Dave Henderson singled with two out in the 20th and Joe Simpson tripled him home. Jim Beattie, who had hurled 10 innings without yielding an earned run two nights earlier as a starter, came in to get Jim Rice for the last out with the bases loaded, thereby earning his first-ever save as the Mariners won 8-7. Richie Zisk boosted his league-leading average to .351 with a .440 week.
KC 13-14 OAK 12-13 TEX 11-14 CAL 11-14 CHI 11-15 SEA 10-17 MINN 10-18
To err is human; to produce in the clutch divine. That was the case with Sixto Lezcano of the front-running Cardinals (3-3). A dropped fly in rightfield by Lezcano led to a 4-2 loss in San Francisco, but he redeemed himself the next two days, stroking three hits during a 5-2 victory over the Giants and then homering in the ninth to topple the Dodgers 5-3. Reliever Bruce Sutter sewed up both games with his 18th and 19th saves. As a result, St. Louis, which had played terribly on the West Coast in recent seasons, wrapped up a 6-4 trip to California.