New Sheriffs in Town

BALTIMORE—The Rangers have a chance to snag first place tonight, but I don’t exactly trust our trusty Texas friend Mr. Calhoun to be impartial about it if it happens, so Buzz here will be doing the reporting. Compound that with Little Me still teary-eyed over last night’s Oriole loss, and there’s a good chance we’ll be doing some post-game toy and ice cream damage control tonight.

It’s Alexander vs. Grimsley, and both guys are spot on through the first six innings, Doyle with a 2-hit shutout and Ross with a 1-hitter. Little Me whines about “Uncle Peachy” growling too much, even though they’re sitting five seats apart, but Peachy isn’t the only one. This is a very tense ballgame and every one of us is feeling it.

Then Texas puts the first chink in the polished marble. Harrah walks to begin the 7th and Horton singles him to third. With the infield up, Ellis raps into a DeCinces-to-Skaggs force at home. Bevacqua singles, though, Harrah scores and it’s 1-0 Rangers. Tippy Martinez is on to hit Keith Smith in he back and load the bases, but he retires Beniquez on another force home, Wills on an easy roller, and further blood is avoided.

Skaggs and Maddox single in the last of the 7th but Alexander strands them. On the scoreboard, the Twins are pounding away in Boston, and the unthinkable is getting more possible.

Then things get wicked strange. Kelly walks and steals with one out in the Baltimore 8th, even with Sundberg replacing Ellis behind the dish. DeCinces singles him to third and Len Barker is hailed. Singleton dumps in a namesake for the tie game, and after Murray whiffs, Skaggs rips one in the gap for a 2-1 Birds lead!

Little Me is on his second cotton candy and jumping around in his seat. Peachy is on his fourth beer and third crabcake sandwich. If the Orioles can just hang on, Boston remains on top.

So here’s backup defensive outfielder Ken Henderson to face Tippy with two gone in the Texas 9th. Not much of a stickman at all, Henderson’s been getting miraculous hits all season, and whacks one deep to left. Kelly races back to the track, leaps, and IT’S GONE! Tie game! Unnerved, Skaggs orders a knockdown and Tippy throws the next pitch at Keith Smith’s noggin. Smith whips the bat away, says something uncurtly to Skaggs and they’re punching away at each other on home plate.

Minutes later, order restored and both players suspended for three games, Beniquez rolls out to end the inning. Barker keeps the Orioles quiet in the bottom half before Texas ignites in the 10th. Wills singles, Hargrove walks, Harrah singles in the go-ahead after one out before Horton greets Dennis Martinez with a bases-clearing double. While Peachy whoops it up, Sheila takes the sobbing Little Me into the tunnel and they miss Barker getting the final three Birds on ground outs to put the Rangers on top for the first time all year.

As Peachy might say, can’t say I saw this coming but I didn’t so I won’t.

TEX 000 000 101 3 – 5 7 0
BAL 000 000 020 0 – 2 7 0

W-Barker L-T. Martinez HR-Henderson GWRBI-Harrah

The Buzz Line

TWINS 9-14-1, at RED SOX 7-12-1
The Olde Towne Team gives it their best, meaning a homer (Rice), three triples and a double off a very bad Dave Goltz, but Jenkins is even worse and loses his first game in months. Hisle, Adams and Wynegar with Back Bay blasts to knock Boston out of first.

ROYALS 4-8-1, at YANKEES 0-7-1
Their recent 32-hit performance at Fenway reduced to a fond memory in an apparent parallel universe, the Yanks get blanked by Andy Hassler, failing once again to provide a crumb of run support for Ron Guidry. The finale tomorrow features Figueroa against Dennis Leonard. Oh joy.

WHITE SOX 6-8-1, at INDIANS 4-9-1 (10 innings)
With a chance to fall below Minnesota into last, Chicago plays their cleats off, blowing three different leads on Jim Bibby before finally winning in extras on a Larvell Blanks overthrow last seen heading for Akron.

at EXPOS 5-5-1, CUBS 3-13-3
Please tell me the Cubs didn’t lose this game even with Reuschel taking a 3-hit shutout to the last of the 9th. Please tell me that Trillo and DeJesus didn’t make back-to-back errors to begin that inning. Please tell me that never-used pinch-hitter Sam Mejias didn’t roll a 1-2 HR chance with two outs and two men aboard to win the game. Sorry, I can’t. Because it happened.

at PHILLIES 5-14-0, CARDS 1-4-0
Carlton rallies the Phils to restore a bit of sanity, Bowa collects two doubles and a rare homer, and the Brotherly Lovers beat up St. Louis for a change.

at PIRATES 7-15-0, ASTROS 2-8-1
How does Odell Jones possibly go seven-plus innings for a win? When he faces Mark Lemongello, that’s how. Down 1-zip, the Bucs score seven unanswered runs, boosted by the Cobra’s single, double, homer and three ribbis to stay a half game out.

at REDS 6-16-1, DODGERS 5-10-3 (15 innings)
If not for Texas punching their way into first place, this would certainly be the Game of the Day. Garvey with a 2-run poke in the 1st off Seaver, but the Reds get four in the 3rd off Rau, mostly due to weak Dodger infield range. L.A. trickles in front 5-4, but end their 6th inning rally with Griffey nailing Reggie Smith at the plate. Driessen ties it up 5-5 by singling in Foster in the 8th, and into extras we slog. Seaver gets better and better and goes 14 innings before Champ Summers hits for him and flies out. Bottom of the 15th against Elias Sosa, Rose and Foster single. Bench skies out but Driessen bounces one over the mound. Russell tries to grab and throw but heaves it wide, Rose scores and the Dodgers have failed their way back into 4th place.

ETCETERA: I’ll be co-hosting another edition of the “Tumbling Dice” podcast tonight right here at 9 p.m. eastern. This one’s a special hour-long preview of the upcoming 30-team Seamheads/Strat Anniversary League, in which I’ll be helming the 1931 A’s of Grove, Simmons, Foxx, Cochrane, and of course, Joe Boley.

American League through Wednesday, August 20

Texas 68 55 .553
Boston 66 54 .550 0.5
Kansas City 68 56 .548 0.5
New York 65 56 .537 2
Baltimore 62 61 .504 6
Cleveland 55 69 .444 13.5
Chicago 53 69 .434 14.5
Minnesota 52 69 .430 15

National League through Wednesday, August 20

Philadelphia 70 50 .583
Pittsburgh 71 52 .577 0.5
Cincinnati 67 55 .549 4
Los Angeles 65 55 .542 5
St. Louis 64 58 .525 7
Houston 54 69 .439 17.5
Montreal 51 70 .421 19.5
Chicago 44 77 .364 26.5

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