Milwaukee (4-2) locked up first place in the next-to-last game (page 34). When Kirk Gibson of the Tigers (2-4) wasn't hitting tape-measure home runs, he was beating out deft bunts to bat .328. Carney Lansford of the Red Sox (3-3) became the first righthanded hitter to win the league batting title since 1970.
For the 20th year in a row the league had a new RBI champ, Eddie Murray of Baltimore (4-2). The last repeater was Roger Maris in 1960-61. Len Barker pitched a perfect game for Cleveland (3-2) in May, but after that was an imperfect 5-6. Dave Stieb's 11-10 record and 3.18 ERA were the best ever achieved by a Toronto (1-4) pitcher with more than 150 innings.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Houston (3-4) walked to the Part II title, drawing 11 bases on balls, three with the bases loaded, during a critical 8-1 victory in Cincinnati. Nolan Ryan went the route and pared his ERA to 1.69, the league's second-lowest—Bob Gibson had a 1.12 in 1968—since Carl Hubbell's 1.66 in 1933. Second to Ryan was Bob Knepper, whose 2.18 was 1.45 below his career figure. Don Sutton (2.60) was lost for postseason play when a pitch fractured his right kneecap.
The Reds (3-4) can cry all they want about their overall record being the best in baseball, but when a playoff spot was on the line last week they blew their chance, finishing second by 1� games. Tom Seaver was 14-2, and his winning percentage of .875 was the best in 30 years by an NL starting pitcher.
Fernando Valenzuela of L.A. (3-4) began as if he would set more records than all the Ryans and Seavers combined—five shutouts in his first seven starts. Valenzuela had an 8-0 record and 0.50 ERA; the rest of the way he was 5-7 and 3.68. Burt Hooton (2.28) and Jerry Reuss (2.30) had ERAs lower than Valenzuela's 2.48.
Greg Minton gave the Giants (3-4) a lift by setting a club record with 21 saves. The bullpen ace for Atlanta (4-3) was Rick Camp with 17 saves, nine wins and a 1.78 ERA. The Braves had two players with nursery-rhyme names: Horner and Hubbard. Bob Horner sat in a corner most of the year, but last week slugged six homers and hit .500. Glenn Hubbard's cupboard, though, was rather bare; he batted .235 for the season. The day after Gaylord Perry won the 297th game of his career, the Braves announced they were giving him his release.
Rookie Pitcher Chris Welsh felt the trouble with the Padres (5-2) was the lack of a " Pete Rose or Gary Carter" to provide leadership. "We had so many new, young players they were afraid to speak up." Nobody had to inspire the pitchers last week; they gave up only 12 runs in seven games.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Montreal (5-2) clinched first place on Saturday by overcoming a 3-0 deficit in New York and winning 5-4. Newcomer Wallace Johnson provided the biggest hit in Expo history by walloping a two-run triple in the seventh for a 4-3 lead. Steve Rogers also came through when it counted, blanking the Mets 3-0. Bill Lee, who bicycled to Olympic Stadium daily, and Woodie Fryman, the perennial winner of the cow-milking contest there, both pitched well down the stretch. And Gary Carter and Andre Dawson provided clutch hits all season. Philadelphia (4-3), which won Part I, had two late streakers as Lonnie Smith batted .571 last week and stretched his hitting skein to 23 games, while Mike Schmidt won his second straight RBI title and fifth home-run crown. Schmidt last week had three homers and 10 RBIs.