THIS DAY IN SP78 HISTORY
September 20, 1980

At the first SP78 game site, RB1 on Alveo Way in Rancho Bernardo, the White Sox erased a 4-3 deficit in the eighth inning with a one-out, 3-run home run from catcher Bill Nahorodny, and Mike Proly pitched two perfect innings of relief for the win, as Chicago came back against Boston for a 6-4 victory at Comiskey Park, improving to 2-0 on the young season. Nahorodny also connected for a bases-clearing double to kick off his six RBI day, while Boston catcher Carlton Fisk led all Red Sox hitters with three singles. After the game, I wrote a letter to the Dodgers, asking if they still had 1980 All-Star Game buttons for sale. Their response, two weeks later, was no.  (Game #26,  4/8/78)

Major League Baseball

Cards Rookie To Wear Lucky #13

The jersey that St Louis Cardinals rookie Todd Benefiel will wear when he makes his major league debut August 3rd in Chicago was unveiled today by the NL club, and echoing his uniforms with the minor league Arkansas Travelers and Springfield Redbirds, his jersey with the Cards will also display #13:

STL - Todd Benefiel #13 road jersey
The number became available when catcher Joe Ferguson was traded from the Cardinals to the Astros after the 1976 season. When asked the significance of the number, Benefiel offered a shrug while waiting to take his cuts in the Wrigley Field batting cage on Wednesday. “It’s what I was assigned in Little League…I just got used to it, I guess, and for me, it’s a lucky number.”

August Preliminary Report: Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays
• The Blue Jays enjoyed their first winning month of the season in July, going 15-13 and climbing to just 2½ game behind the sixth-place Indians in the AL East. The Jays will wrap up a 2-game series with Detroit on August 1st before taking two days off and traveling to Kansas City for a 3-game weekend set with the Royals.

• Jesse Jefferson was the toast of the Toronto starting staff last month, going 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA; in contrast, he was 4-9 with a 4.82 ERA through June. Another pleasant surprise was Jerry Garvin, a PB 2-5 starter who went 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA and three complete games in July.

• At the other end of the spectrum, reliever Mike Willis allowed four runs in 1/3 of an inning pitched, for an ERA of 120.00, before he was sent to AAA Syracuse. Continue reading

August Preliminary Report: Rangers

Texas Rangers
• The Rangers are the hottest team in the AL, having finished July with a 20-9 record for the month (and that after a 19-10 mark in June).  They’ll open August against the Yankees to wrap up a quick two-game series at Yankee Stadium. The game will feature a pitching match-up of Ron Guidry and Jon Matlack, both of whom have records of 16-3, and will be televised nationally on C-SPAN, with local coverage on KXAS in the Fort Worth-Dallas area and WPIX in New York.

• With Doyle Alexander getting roughed up as a starter (5-7 with a 7.03 ERA this season), the Rangers will switch to a 4-man rotation for August, with Alexander shifting to the bullpen. The starting four will consist of Matlack, Fergie Jenkins, Doc Medich, and Dock Ellis, with Jim Umbarger making spot starts throughout the month.

• Matlack, Jenkins, and Medich all went 4-1 in July, with a combined ERA of 2.81. Continue reading

August Preliminary Review: Mariners

Seattle Mariners
• After the Mariners enjoyed their miracle 16-game winning streak in April and May, they seemed to lose their footing a bit, winning just 21 of their next 68 to finish July in sixth place in the AL West, with a 48-59 mark. Granted, they’re only 17 games out of first place, which is not insurmountable with two whole months left in the season, but things are looking grim, and the M’s will need another miracle to finish ahead of Texas, Minnesota, and Kansas City.

• How valuable is outfielder Tom Paciorek to the Mariners? Besides the team’s drop from second place to sixth while he was on the 30-day DL in May and June, he was the only Seattle player in July to hit above .300 (.355, to be exact), and he currently leads the Mariners with a .328 average on the year.

• First baseman Dan Meyer, who was injured July 29th at Tiger Stadium when he ran into the M’s dugout chasing a foul in the first inning of their 10-7 win over the Tigers, will likely return to action when Seattle travels to Minnesota to face the Twins on August 7th. Bob Robertson will handle first base duties in the interim. Continue reading

August Preliminary Report: A’s

Oakland A's
• The moment I picked Oakland as my dark-horse contender for the AL West flag, they fell into the dumpster, losing 4 of their next 5 and finishing July in fourth place with a 12-16 record for the month. But after a few tweaks to their starting lineup and pitching rotation, the A’s just might turn it around in August and give the Rangers, Twins, and Royals a run for their money.

• Like most teams in the major leagues, the A’s will convert to a 4-man rotation for August, with three PB 2-7 pitchers (Matt Keough, John Henry Johnson, and Alan Wirth) joining veteran Steve Renko as manager Jack McKeon’s starting quartet. Rick Langford, a right-hander who made five starts for the A’s after his call-up in June, will make one more on August 1st before moving to the bullpen on a permanent basis.

• Keough, who’s pitching range of 2-7 would seem a lock for success, somehow went 0-5 with a 5.27 ERA in July. Continue reading