The Agony and the Eckersley

CLEVELAND—So I’ve been hiding out deep in Ohio, digging on the cheesy shags, sideburns and slacks every guy seems to have around here, when I’m suddenly itching to see another ball game. Here’s my choice: the no-doubt Plummerless Reds against the last-place Cubs, or the Indians home against the K.C. Royals, who’ve beaten them all five times this year. Riverfront seems like the best ticket, until I check the pitching matchups in the Beacon-Journal and see Dennis Eckersley’s going for the Tribe. Needless to say, this hot-blooded lady has made her decision.

I have to be extra careful, of course, because Dr. Grossinger might still be snooping around up here, not to mention that creepy Seamus Headley, but I figure the risk is worth it to watch Eck the Dashing Gunslinger for a night. Little do I know I’m about to see the most amazing game of our rehashed ’77.

Now Dennis is 2-6 so far but I can tell you that he’s had less support than a highway ramp built with Legos. And he is ON once again. From my third base box seat which was damn easy to sneak into with about 19 people here, he’s got that buggywhip arm freezing and melting Royal bats from the start. I’ve been following the Reds more than the Indians so far so I don’t know the details of this supposed Curse of Colavito they got going on, but even in a league like this that few thought they’d win, it sure seems like they get more haunted stuff than they need.

And this one’s a slasher movie/gothic novel/real-life possession all in one. While Cleveland’s busy stranding one runner in the 1st, one runner in the 2nd, three in the 3rd, one in the 4th and two in the 5th against Splittorff, Wyatt Eck guns down the first twenty Royals in a row. Not even a scent of a baserunner. Top of the 7th, Brett works him for a two-out walk, but McRae fans for the third time and that’s that.

Thornton singles with two gone in the 8th but Dade fouls out and we go the 9th, K.C. still hitless but the game scoreless. Patek grounds out. White whiffs. Pete LaCock, filling in for Mayberry at first today, bounces out to Kuiper and Dennis has a no-hitter through nine! I want to run out on the field and kiss him, but also don’t want to miss history by sitting in a room in handcuffs. Win the damn game, Indians!!

They try at least. Grubb gets hit to lead off the Tribe 9th and gets sent to first. Charlie Spikes just about throws himself in front of Splittorff’s next pitch, and before you know it him and Darrell Porter are duking it out on top of home plate! Both of them get kicked out of the game, Manning runs for Spikes, and Duffy bunts them both over. One out, Kuiper at the plate, Grubb 90 feet away from an Eck no-no, and Duane weakly grounds out to a drawn-in Frank White. Two outs. Pruitt skies out to right, and we’re going to extras!

Where Cowens whiffs on a freaky curve. Brett bounces out, and McRae gets smoked for the sombrero. TEN innings of no-hit ball! How could this happen? I just want to hug Dennis now, hold him in my arms and—

Okay Amy, calm down. He can still win this. And here’s a line drive double by Rico Carty with one out! Lowenstein runs for him but Thornton and Dade both fly out to left, and your 19 nervous breakdowns break out.

Eck back to the hill. Leading off the 11th is Wathan, who replaced Porter behind the dish. John’s hitting .369 part-time and we got a bad feeling about this. WHACK—line drive into center for the end of the not-hitter, the shutout and most likely the game. Dennis gets Poquette but Otis then rifles a double into the corner and Patek grounds out.

White is pulled for lefty bench bat Joe LaHoud, who promptly doubles into the right gap for two runs and I’m walking up the aisle in tears. Yup, some days there IS crying in baseball, and plenty of it, because some days there just isn’t any justice. Splittorff gets the Tribe 1-2-3 in the 11th like I knew he would, and Eckersley drops 2-7 for no good reason, while the team loses their seventh straight and is now 9-23 in their home park.

All I know is this girl needs a six-pack of Falls City right quick to drown her tearjerking heart in.

K.C. 000 000 000 02 -2 3 0
CLE 000 000 000 00 – 0 7 0

W-Splittorff L-Eckersley GWRBI-LaHoud

Other Action:

at RED SOX 7-11-1, RANGERS 5-10-0
I know Buzz Gip is a Boston fan, but even he’s gotta be getting a little sick of this. Blyleven racks up eight strikeouts and no whiffs, Yaz and Rice go a combined 0-for-8…and the Red Sox come back from 3-0 and win the game anyway on four homers in the last three innings. Nine wins in a row, and it just ain’t fair.

W-Jenkins L-Blyleven HR: D. May, Fisk, Hobson, Carbo, Evans GWRBI-Carbo

WHITE SOX 2-6-0, at YANKEES 1-8-1
The Yanks play lousy May ball again, unable to score anyone against Barrios until the 9th inning, while Chicago gets two cheap runs due to bad New York fielding range. If Steve Stone wins tomorrow we can officially say the Yanks are slumping.

W-Barrios L-Hunter GWRBI-Brohamer

TWINS 4-7-0, at ORIOLES 1-7-0
Goltz is back on the beam, and the Twins quietly creep nearer to the .500 mark. Carew ups his new hit streak to eight with a doink single in his final at bat.

W-Goltz L-Grimsley GWRBI-Hisle

CARDINALS 4-13-0, at PIRATES 2-6-0
Whoa boy. Odell Jones throws his expected crap and gets yanked in the 3rd inning down 4-1, but what’s unexpected is the Bucs unable to do anything with Eric Rasmussen. Once again they put men aboard in the 9th to set up another miracle, but this time Clay Carroll comes out of the St. Louis pen to get Garner and Taveras on grounders. The Cards take a 1- game lead, and throw John Urrea tomorrow against the Candy Man.

W-Rasmussen L-Jones SV-Carroll HR: Robinson GWRBI-Mumphrey

at PHILLIES 9-15-0, DODGERS 1-1-0
Other than Eckersley’s not-hitter, this might be the second best pitching performance all year. Carlton gives up a Cey homer in the 2nd, a Garvey walk in the 5th, and NOTHING ELSE. In other Philly news, Mike Schmidt has a pulse.

W-Carlton L-Rau HRS: Cey, Schmidt-2, GWRBI-Bowa

at EXPOS 8-6-2, ASTROS 4-13-2
Insane line score at the Big O, as Houston strands 12 runners while the Epos leave three. Gary Carter with a double and two taters exactly when they’re needed.

W-Twitchell L-Andujar SV-Kerrigan GWRBI-Carter

at REDS 13-13-2, CUBS 7-10-0
Seaver with the horrible complete game, up 8-0 in the 6th and nearly blowing it. Helps that Krukow started for the Cubs and that Foster and Bench ate their Wheaties.

W-Seaver L-Krukow HRS: Buckner, Foster, Bench (#21) GWRBI-Seaver

EXTRA COOL PENNANT RACE CHARTS!
Click on links below for PDF images, through play of 6/8.

1977AL_Graph

1977NL_Graph

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This week’s posts will appear today and Friday only, while I attend the annual ECBA Convention at a hidden country estate in Maryland. More about this soon….

American League through Tuesday, June 10

Boston 35 20 .636
Kansas City 32 24 .571 3.5
New York 29 25 .537 5.5
Baltimore 29 26 .527 6
Texas 28 29 .491 8
Minnesota 26 29 .473 9
Chicago 22 32 .407 12.5
Cleveland 20 36 .357 15.5

National League through Tuesday, June 10

St. Louis 34 23 .596
Pittsburgh 34 25 .576 1
Los Angeles 30 26 .536 3.5
Philadelphia 30 26 .536 3.5
Cincinnati 29 28 .509 5.5
Houston 26 31 .456 8.5
Montreal 22 32 .407 11
Chicago 21 35 .375 13

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