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Last season Mike Witt of the Angels (3-3) caused hitters to wince only because he plunked 11 of them with pitches. This year, though, Witt is putting the hurt on batters by throwing pitches they're finding increasingly hard to hit. The A's got only four hits off Witt last week as he blanked them 9-0. That gave Witt, who's 6'7" and 185 pounds and has just turned 22, a 7-3 record and a 3.03 ERA. And then there was Luis Tiant, who is eight inches shorter and a few pounds heavier than Witt and will soon be 42 (or so). Tiant went seven innings and won for the first time this season since coming up from the Mexican League three weeks ago, beating the Twins 3-1 with the aid of Reggie Jackson's two-run pinch double in the eighth. Doug DeCinces cooled off but in that game slammed his 11th homer in his last 13 outings. Desperate for bullpen help, Manager Gene Mauch used Dave Goltz in relief. Goltz allowed only one hit in 2⅔ innings as he preserved Geoff Zahn's 6-3 victory over Minnesota.
By putting his shoulder to the task, Larry Gura helped put Kansas City (5-1) in first. Said Gura, explaining the problem he rectified, "I was too straight when I let the ball go. I watched several pitchers and saw they all did something I always did before—lift the lead shoulder at the last second to drive the pitching arm farther downward. My curves were flat. Now they're breaking well again." Gura's curves broke well enough for him to baffle Cleveland 12-2 and Detroit 1-0.
LaMarr Hoyt of Chicago (6-1) joined Gura as the league's first 14-game winners by handcuffing New York 6-0 on three hits. Greg Luzinski's hitting and, of all things, base running aroused the White Sox. A long home run by Luzinski touched off a six-run rally during a 9-5 victory over the Orioles. The Bull's three-run, checked-swing double was the big hit as Chicago dumped Baltimore 9-4. And in a 4-1 win over the Birds, Luzinski had three hits, slid hard into second to break up a double play and enable a run to score, legged out an infield single, advanced from first to third on a base hit to left, and stretched a liner to left into a double.
Tidy relief pitching, clutch hits and opponents' miscues added up to three more comeback victories for the Mariners (4-2), who now have 31 for the season. A three-run eighth that jolted Minnesota 3-1 began with a Twins error and ended with a two-run pinch single by Dave Revering.
Apparently wearied by his record-setting base-stealing pace, Rickey Henderson of the A's (3-3) went through a two-week 0-for-29 slump. But Henderson had four steals, giving him 109 in 118 games, nine shy of Lou Brock's modern single-season mark. Matt Keough, a 15-game loser, won for the 10th time when he beat California 10-1.
Terry Felton of the Twins (2-4), though, kept losing. Two defeats (6-3 to the Angels and 10-2 to the Mariners) left him 0-12 for the season and 0-15 for his career, breaking a major league record set in 1914 by Cleveland's Guy Morton. Bobby Castillo, a reliever for most of his six seasons, hurled the first complete game of his career when he defeated Seattle 3-1.
Although unaccustomed to rallying for victories, the Rangers (3-3) did so three times. A four-run seventh toppled Milwaukee 6-3, and a three-run ninth turned what had been a 7-2 deficit into an 8-7 win over Cleveland. John Butcher was a 3-2 winner over the Indians as Texas scored twice in the seventh and won in the ninth on Larry Parrish's homer.
KC 66-49 CAL 66-50 CHI 63-52 SEA 58-58 OAK 52-66 TEX 46-68 MINN 40-77
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]