ST. LOUIS—Lester doesn’t like it when his Cards lose, and Lester’s been very unhappy lately because the darn Dodgers have owned us since the season began to the tune of ten out of twelve, and we have to beat them today at Busch to prove we belong in this pack of pennant chasers.
It doesn’t look good for us at first, because L.A. goes up 2-0 right away on two singles, two walks, and an error by pitcher Underwood. But Tommy John and his 10-4 record are having an off day, and Keith Hernandez clears the bases with a 3rd inning triple. Simmons follows with an upper deck shot, and we take the lead 5-2!
Why does it have to be Underwood pitching, though? Lacy walks, Yeager triples, and lesser Tom is booted for Butch Metzger with nobody out in the 4th. Butch whiffs two guys but walks two others, and Penguin Cey wafts a fly deep to left that drops just over the wall for a grand slam. Any air that’s left in the Busch pit is sucked out, and I can feel my hair curling up from the heat radiating off the Astroturf. Another cheap homer by Yeager follows a 2-base Templeton error the next inning, and every roll of the fate’s dice is going the Dodger way.
The wait at the ice cream and lemonade stands lasts a good two innings, but no one cares. And guess who I bump into, but Sherman and some little kid named Carlton who Sherman says is his grandson. Carlton looks miserable, but Sherman buys him a giant-size lemonade AND a snow cone to perk him up a bit. I follow them to a shaded part of the grandstand, where lots of Cards fans who are still around have sought refuge.
A vendor selling ice cream sandwiches with a wet towel over his head keeps coming over and pestering us to buy one, but Sherman keeps shooing him away. I have to admit I’ve missed the crazy old buzzard.
“Get a hit, Garvey, you woman!” he yells. The Biggest Dodger Fan in the Land is thrilled with the result so far, of course, but can’t ride his first baseman enough. Eastwick and Hrabosky do the mopping up, with Baker smacking a solo shot for good measure, but by the time John finishes off his tidy little 16-hit complete game, we’re 2-11 against these guys and six games out of the first place we were actually in a few weeks ago.
Sherman says he has a car, and I talk him into giving me a lift to wherever he’s going for the All-Star break. He says either a big lake or Canada, because the Dodgers start play again up in Montreal on Thursday. I offer to drive because I know how old he is and how tired he can get, and he says sure after grumbling for twenty seconds and hands me the keys.
Except as we get to his car, the weird, annoying ice cream vendor corners us again. I get aggravated, rip the towel off his head—
—and see Seamus Headley standing there, head bandaged and standing a little wobbly, pointing a .38 at my stomach. “Hello Lester…and Sherman…and—”
He stares at little Carlton a long time, blinks, and then his legs give out and he collapses right in the parking lot! What the heck? A couple concerned fans run over, lift him and help him into Sherman’s back seat. I get behind the wheel, hide the gun under my seat, and we’re off. Hopefully when he comes to, we’ll all get some answers. I’m sure Buzz and Fred and Amy and Dr. Sheila will spend the next three days doing the same.
L.A. 200 520 011 – 11 10 1
STL 005 001 001 – 7 16 2
W-John L-Metzger HRS: Cey, Yeager, Baker, Simmons GWRBI-Cey
at PHILLIES 5-12-1, PIRATES 4-10-2 (10 innings)
The Bucs almost pull out a mini-sweep in Philly, but Rooker and Tekulve can’t hold a 4-2 lead against the deep Phils bench, and a pinch single by McCarver ties it in the last of the 9th. With Goose unavailable, Forster starts the 10th against lefty McBride, and Bake cooks one over the fence for the winner.
at EXPOS 9-18-0, REDS 4-7-0
Montreal spoils another Reds party and improves to 7-6 against them for the year. Carter and Unser both homer in a seven-run 1st inning salvo off Billingham, and Full-Pack Stanhouse wins for just the third time against ten bad-luck losses.
ASTROS 9-15-1, at CUBS 3-9-2
ASTROS 7-11-4, at CUBS 4-9-0
The rotting Cubbies hit the break in style, dropping two to Houston on an error- and injury-plaugued afternoon. A combined five players get hurt for both teams, Puhl and Ontiveros the biggest names. Chicago finishes 10-31 at home for the first half.
ROYALS 17-20-1, at TWINS 1-4-2
Worst home team in the AL, your Minnesotans, currently at 11-27 after getting their pants pulled down by Leonard and the rampaging Royals. Cowens, Porter and Mayberry all homer, and everyone in the KC lineup drives in a run except Tom Poquette. Leonard wins his seventh straight and keeps his club in first by a fingernail going into the break.
RED SOX 3-8-0, at ORIOLES 2-7-0
The Birds, though, go into free fall, dropping their last six to the Indians, Yanks, and So , many in horrific fashion. This one’s a slasher film. Palmer has a 2-1 lead on solo shots by Murray and May off Jenkins, but Fisk takes him out in the 8th, and crappy defensive range by Kelly and May give Boston the winning run in the 9th on a Boomer Scott single. The Red Sox give up a lot of homers, but they walk almost no one and catch everything that’s hit out there. Can’t say that for most teams.
at INDIANS 7-8-1, YANKEES 5-9-0
Then there’s the Yanks, who catch almost nothing hit their way and can’t hold a lead to save their lives. Nettles and Munson both club 2-run homers off Eck for a 4-0 lead through five, but a Hunter wild pitch keeps the Tribe 5th alive for a Thornton game-tying 3-run bomb, and Rico Carty, he of the 16 RBIs all year, wins it in the 7th with a blast off Tidrow.
RANGERS 6-13-2, at WHITE SOX 4-9-1
Texas has ever so quietly moved past Baltimore into fourth, while the White Sox have died again with a big crash. Moret and Barker get out of a 9th inning jam to save it for Alexander.
Okay peoples, we’ve hit the ’77 All-Star break, meaning the long-awaited All-Star Series gets underway this weekend in Tiger Stadium. John Candelaria squares off against Frank Tanana, with Tom Seaver facing Jim Palmer at Candlestick in Game 2. I’ll be back Monday with two special guest reporters doing the series wrapup, and first half stats will be posted on Tuesday.
In the meantime, let’s wallow in yesteryear with an all-time classic video. Yes, it’s from the far future of 1986, but c’mon, the ’77 Dodgers have won 11 straight, so even their cheesy offspring have earned the right to party. Rock it, Orel!
American League through Sunday, July 6
National League through Sunday, July 6