LaGrowing Pains

“Baltimore? How the hell can we be back in Baltimore??”

It’s Mikey’s big mouth again, and this time I shove him against a brick wall. “These are my 4-D dice, Mikey, and if I say the best games the next two days are gonna be White Sox ones, first in Birdville and then in Chicago, then that’s where the hell we’re gonna be.  So shut your Philly hole and enjoy yourself.”

“Right on!” says Friendly Fred.

“Kick his ass, Gipper!” says Crazy Amy.

“The chances of two straight White Sox games—and three out of four, I should add—are less than ten percent,” adds Lester, “and because I’m a big fan of theirs, you should let me report the action.”

I tell him I thought he was a Cubs, Cards, Royals and Twins fan, and he gives me a very creepy look. “Oh no, I’ve always been a White Sox fan…Carlton.” I turn away and see we’re two blocks from Memorial Stadium.

“Good, Lester.  Then knock yourself out.”

Game of the First Day

BALTIMORE—Grimsley hits Downing in the head with the first pitch of the game and knocks our catcher out for two weeks. I do not like Grimsley. But my boys respond as they should, as Lemon singles, Soderholm homers, and after a shabby two-out error by DeCinces, doubles by Nordhagen and Bannister increase our lead to 5-0.

With two singles, two walks and an Orta double in the 3rd, it’s 8-1. Wilbur Wood is putting Orioles aboard left and right, but their Baserunner Efficiency Index is not helping them, because they can’t break through. Ha ha ha.

But then the 6th inning happens, and I don’t feel good about it. No, not at all. A single, then a walk, then a Soderholm error, then another single finish off Wood and bring in Dal Canton. Lefty Billy Smith bats for Mora and walks in a run. For goodness sake. A Murray single on a 1-2 roll, then walks to Dempsey and Dauer close the advantage to 8-6!

Grimsley makes it to the 8th before Tippy Martinez tries to stop a rally and just can’t. Ha ha. Singles by Johnson, Garr, and Nordhagen make it 10-6. LaGrow relieves Dal Canton but Kelly greets him with a 350.25-foot homer. It is 10-7.

LaGrow starts the last of the 9th, as wobbly as any reliever around. I have the stats around here some…oh, never mind. May pinch-hits a walk with one out. Maddox and DeCinces walk to fill the bases. I do not like this. And there’s a Singleton double for two runs! Smith up again, and a wild pitch ties the score! Mora walks, Kelly whiffs, and here’s Eddie Murray. He places a single in right and I have no words left in my pocket. Chicago has tossed an 8-1 6th inning lead in the trash, walking 14 Birds in the process, and completely deserves my wrath.

CHI 503 000 020 – 10 13 1
BAL 010 005 014 – 11 11 1

W-T. Martinez L-LaGrow HRS: Soderholm, Kelly GWRBI-Murray

Game of the Second Day

CHICAGO—Yes, it’s good to be home again in old dark green Comiskey. My traveling friends seem a little tired, so I hope this game against my first place Royals is a quick one.

If anything, I now understand why Kansas City is leading the American league pack. C. Buzz Gip calls it “the Thang,” but I opt for the more descriptive and reliable Derivative of Undulating Coefficiency Habitual Effect, or DOUCHE. Orta is thrown out at the plate on a 1-15 (75%) DOUCHE chance in the 1st to set the game’s early tone. A Cowens sacrifice fly in the 3rd puts them up on Barrios, but this is by far ace Dennis Leonard’s weakest outing for the Royals, and Zisk ties the game with a solo belt in the 4th.

It stays 1-1 till the 8th, when Orta doubles with two outs, Soderholm singles and Chicago’s in the lead 2-1. True to form, though, K.C. fights back instantly. McRae leads the 9th with a triple on a 1-8 (40%) DOUCHE roll. Lefty Hamilton is called to face lefty Porter, and gets him on a liner. LaGrow, fresh off his nervous breakdown in the last game, enters to face Otis but Amos skies another sac fly to tie the game.

The Royals bullpen is overused, and Littell is forced to come on for extra innings, while LaGrow does the same for Chicago. But real crazy stuff occurs as a result. While LaGrow shocks even me by throwing six and two-thirds of hitless relief, Littell allows eleven baserunners in his first five innings but the White Sox fail to score again and again and I HATE THEM for that. Oscar Gamble and his goofy clown hair goes 0-for-7 on the day in the cleanup hole, whiffing four times despite a clear platoon advantage over the K.C. righties.

It takes a Zisk single, wild pitch, and winning single from Jim Spencer to finally give the Sox the big win in the 15th, but all of us are virtually asleep by then. Littell and LaGrow are gone for days, meaning the next few late innings between these clubs should be some kind of hootenanny.

K.C. 001 000 001 000 000 – 2 5 0
CHI 000 100 010 000 001 – 3 14 1

W-LaGrow L-Littell HR-Zisk GWRBI-Spencer

OTHER MAY 8 GAMES

ROYALS 7-17-2, at RED SOX 4-8-1
Boston almost pulls off a miracle 3-game sweep, but K.C.’s DOUCHE factor reigns supreme. Rice misses hitting a grand slam off Pattin by inches, while Lynn and Montgomery miss good-chance homer rolls late in the game. Reggie Cleveland pitches a brave complete game, not getting tired until the 9th, when Porter and Otis go back-to-back.

W-Pattin L-Cleveland SV-Littell HRS: Mayberry, Porter, Otis, Lynn

TWINS 4-8-1, at YANKEES 3-5-0
A big homer by Craig Kusick in the 5th off Gullett turns the game around, the Yank offense goes back in its cave against Goltz, and Minnesota jumps over New York in the standings. For a day.

W-Goltz L-Gullett HR: Kusick GWRBI-Kusick

RANGERS 12-17-1, at INDIANS 2-7-0
Enough of this, say my Texas boys, who make some lineup changes, then make sure Blyleven gets his first win by pasting Garland, Monge and Dobson from one end of Lake Erie to the other. Wills takes the leadoff spot, Hargrove the cleanup one, and Willie Horton, back from an injury and dropped to 8th, responds with a double, homer and single.

W-Blyleven L-Garland HR: Horton GWRBI-Horton

at PIRATES 4-12-2, ASTROS 3-9-1
Houston does everything they can possibly do, fight back from two deficits against Rooker, and still lose by one run because they can’t get a big hit, something the Pirates have spilling out of their pockets. In this case, actually, the 38th error of the year (or so it seems) by Astro shortstop Gonzalez brings across the go-ahead run in the 5th.

W-Rooker L-Lemongello

at EXPOS 6-11-0, CARDS 4-10-1
Montreal gets a rare win, as Ellis Valentine turns around a 4-3 St. Louis lead in the 8th with a 3-run missle off our good friend Eric Harry Rasmussen.

W-Kerrigan L-Rasmussen HRS: Hernandez, Valentine GWRBI-Valentine

at PHILLIES 3-10-1, CUBS 2-8-0
Burris pitches an acceptable game for him, but is done in by theee—count ’em—three solo Jay Johnstone homers in the leadoff spot.

W-Lonborg L-Burris SV-Garber HRS: Johnstone-3

OTHER MAY 9 GAMES

at YANKEES 9-14-0, RED SOX 4-13-0
Another major lineup change in New York. Randolph and Rivers are moved to the top, get on base nine out of ten times, and Tiant is squashed in his second straight outing. Sparky Lyle even gets an actual save, despite giving up three hits and hitting a batter. The Sox ground into five double plays, which usually is a problem.

W-Figueroa L-Tiant SV-Lyle HRS: Piniella, Jackson, Nettles GWRBI-Piniella

at INDIANS 2-9-0, ORIOLES 1-4-0
With a chance to cut the K.C. lead to a game and a half, the Birds are severely plucked by Rick Waits to start their big road trip.

W-Waits L-Martinez GWRBI-Grubb

RANGERS 9-11-0, at TWINS 8-12-1
Meanwhile, the Twins get back home, where they have yet to win a game, and revert to their pitiful, heartbreaking ways. Down 3-0 to Dock Ellis, they get two in the 2nd, four in the 3rd, and have a 7-5 lead into the 7th when long “relief” man Gary Serum serves up 2-run taters to Dave May and Juan Beniquez. Borgmann then slams a pinch homer with two gone in the 9th and the Twins put two more on base, before Barker comes on to induce a weak grounder and end it. Carew with three more hits to up his average to .475, but no one’s doing cartwheels up there. With a win, Minnesota would have been tied for fifth place.

PIRATES 4-6-1, at EXPOS 1-4-1
Jackie Brown throws a brilliant 2-hit shutout against the Bucs—except for that pesky 6th inning when he gives up a single, two doubles and a Robinson homer to lose the game. TWELVE straight wins for the Pirates and counting.

W-Reuss L-Brown HRS: Robinson, Carter GWRBI-Parker (batting .444)

REDS 5-9-0, at PHILLIES 2-8-0
The pile of mucus otherwise known as Randy Lerch gives your basic Lerchian performance: Two and two-third innings, 7 hits, 4 walks, 5 runs before being jettisoned. Reed and Brusstar come on, throw over five innings of 2-hit relief but it’s too late because Jack Billingham is dealing.

W-Billingham L-Lerch HR: Luzinski GWRBI-Rose

Dodgers enjoy two days off, return home tomorrow to host Astros in double-header.

American League through Friday, May 9

Kansas City 17 7 .708
Baltimore 15 10 .600 2.5
Boston 14 12 .538 4
Texas 12 13 .480 5.5
Chicago 10 13 .435 6.5
Cleveland 11 15 .440 7
New York 10 14 .417 7
Minnesota 9 14 .391 7.5

National League through Friday, May 9

Pittsburgh 18 7 .720
Los Angeles 13 9 .591 3.5
Philadelphia 13 11 .542 4.5
Cincinnati 12 11 .522 5
St. Louis 11 14 .440 7
Houston 10 15 .400 8
Chicago 9 14 .391 8
Montreal 9 14 .391 8

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