Bottom of the eighth Kansas City ahead 2-1, Kirk Gibson at bat for Detroit (6-1) with one man on. Gibson swings and trickles the ball toward First Baseman Willie Aikens. Instead of fielding the grounder and tagging Gibson out, Aikens pulls his mitt away and the ball rolls foul. That was the break Gibson needed to help him bust out of a 1-for-30 slump that had lowered his average to .081. Back at the plate, Gibson walloped his first home run of the season to defeat the Royals 3-2. Before the week was over, Gibson had slammed two more homers.
Can a Lemon make it in the Big Apple? Well, New York Manager Bob Lemon can't. He was fired for the second time last Sunday and replaced by General Manager Gene Michael, who had earlier replaced Dick Howser, who had replaced Billy Martin, who had replaced Lemon, who had replaced Martin who had replaced Bill Virdon.... Meanwhile, Detroit's Chet Lemon made himself right at home by slugging a long two-run homer. Pitcher Jack Morris made those runs stand up for a 3-1 triumph. An even niftier bit of pitching was performed by Milt Wilcox when he defeated the Royals 8-0 on one hit. Wilcox, who severely dislocated his right index finger playing basketball last winter, says the enlarged knuckle that resulted has made his forkball easier to grip and more effective than ever. Rookie Glenn Wilson helped keep the Tigers atop the division by batting .458.
Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox (5-1), who tried "nine million stances" in spring training, has gone back to basically the same stance he used during his peak seasons of 1967-70. At the urging of Coach Walt Hriniak, Yaz is holding the bat high and cocked back at a 45-degree angle. Does it work? His .380 average so far indicates it does. So did his fourth and fifth homers, which helped beat Toronto 8-7 and 5-4. That gave Boston four consecutive one-run wins.
Ron Guidry of the Yankees (3-3), who two weeks ago hurled his first complete game in 36 starts spanning three seasons, pitched his second in a row when he cooled off the White Sox 1-0 on three hits. New York hitters, who had seemed to have hung out a Gone Fishing sign, finally hooked into Steve Trout of Chicago. Trout, who had held the Yankees to one hit during the first six innings, was driven from the mound in the seventh. By pounding out 15 hits over the last three innings New York won 11-2 and broke an eight-game Chicago victory streak. The Yankees also ended Detroit's winning string at eight with a 3-1 triumph on Sunday.
The Indians' Rick Manning, a lefthanded batter, hit a paltry .206 against lefthanded pitchers last season. So far this season he's hitting .423 against southpaws, and last week, as Cleveland went 2-4, he socked a two-run triple that beat lefty Frank Tanana and the Rangers 4-2.
Roy Howell of the Brewers (5-0) also beat the Rangers with a long drive, a two-run homer that clinched a 4-1 triumph for Pete Vuckovich, who tossed a three-hitter. While winning the first four games of the week, Milwaukee pitchers yielded a total of only 18 hits. Best of them all was Mike Caldwell, who defeated Toronto 7-0 on just four hits.
Not even the continued productivity of pinch hitters could untrack Toronto (1-5). So far, the batters off the bench have gone 12 for 35 (.343). But a pinch grand slam by Jesse Barfield couldn't prevent the 8-7 loss to Boston. And neither a pinch RBI single by Al Woods nor a pinch two-run double by Hosken Powell could stave off a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox.
"Humiliating" was the word used by General Manager Hank Peters to describe the Orioles' nine-game losing streak. And that total didn't include their embarrassing 6-0 loss to their Rochester farm team. Eddie Murray, who hit .412 and had seven RBIs, ended the agony by homering from both sides of the plate and driving across four runs as Baltimore (2-3) beat Chicago 7-4.
DET 11-6 BOS 9-6 MIL 8-6 CLEV 6-8 NY 6-8 TOR 5-11 BALT 4-10