August 31, 1996

While housesitting for Steve P at his ‘ESC5’ condo while he was visiting family in Colorado, I played an SP78 game solo between LA and Montreal at Dodger Stadium, where Rick Rhoden’s six-hitter and a pair of home runs from Triple Crown candidate Reggie Smith spelled doom for the Expos, and a 7-1 win for the Dodgers. Ron Cey and Lee Lacy also homered for LA, and Smith added a double to round out his 3-for-4 night. Montreal scored on a two-out error by first baseman Steve Garvey in the seventh inning, which allowed Tony Perez to trot home from third for his team’s only run.  (Game #841,  6/17/78)

Major League Baseball

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.

• Second baseman Mike Edwards is back from his beaning by Chisox pitcher Ross Baumgarten, after Edwards stole second, third, and home in the first inning of their July 27th game at Comiskey Park. Edwards, who returned to action on the 31st and went 2-for-4, was Oakland’s offensive leader for July, with a batting average of .327, 34 hits, 19 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases (and only one caught stealing).

• Edwards’ steal of second, third, and home in one inning was an SP78 first, and was the first time the feat was accomplished in the major leagues since Dave Nelson of the Rangers turned the trick on August 31, 1974. It was the 22nd time a triple-theft had been pulled off in the American League, and 43rd overall.

• The A’s stole 50 bases in July, and were caught only ten times.

• After a stellar July, outfielder Glenn Burke has won a spot in the starting lineup, and will now bat lead-off and be stationed in center field. Miguel Dilone and rookie Dell Alston will platoon in right, while Mitchell Page will return to his customary spot in left.

• Both Burke and Dilone were suspended one game for illegal bat use in July, and strangely enough, they were both caught during the same game, in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Twins on July 7th. Both blamed an unnamed teammate, who’d loaned them the bat and had promised it would bring them ‘luck’.

August Preliminary Report: Yankees

New York Yankees
• The Yankees are still the team to beat in the AL East, and if it weren’t for the surprising Rangers in the West, New York would be the dominant force in the American League. Currently, they’re #1 in the AL with a 64-39 won-lost mark.

• If someone were to ask you which Yankee starting pitcher—between Ron Guidry and Ed Figueroa—was 5-0 with five complete games in July, and which was 2-2 with just two complete games, how would you choose? Well, the obvious answer is not the correct one; Guidry, with a PB of 2-9 and a record of 16-1 through June, somehow went just 2-2 in July, though his ERA was 2.65, which hints to a lack of hitting support. Still, for Bob Lemon and his first-place squad, it’s nice to know someone has Guidry’s back when he stumbles.

• Burdened with an abundance of starting pitching, the Yankees shipped underachieving rookie Jim Beattie and injury-plagued veteran Andy Messersmith to their minor league affiliate in Tacoma, and brought up right-handed reliever Bob Kammeyer to help fill out an understaffed bullpen. In addition, NY recalled utility infielder Brian Doyle, who will supply manager Lemon with some much-needed bench support after the loss of both Mickey Rivers and Paul Blair to injuries in late July. Continue reading

August Preliminary Report: Twins

Minnesota Twins
• To kick off August, the Twins will visit the Mariners in Seattle for a 3-game midweek series, the first time Minnesota has played at the Kingdome since the first week of April, when the Twins took 4 of 5 games from the M’s to open the SP78 season.

• After starting the year with a dominating 19-7 mark, the Twins have tapered off quite a bit, playing .500 ball through the end of July, and falling from first to third in the AL West race. Part of the problem could be attributed to lack of home run production (just 14 last month) and pitching (a team ERA of 4.29 for July). However, their playoff hopes are still very much alive, as they begin the new month just 6½ games behind the division-leading Rangers.

• This season, Minnesota spent 88 days in first-place in the AL West before surrendering the top spot to Texas in mid-July. Continue reading

August Preliminary Report: Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers
• Milwaukee is currently 58-43 and in second place in the AL East, five games behind division-leading New York. The Brewers will meet the Yankees in an important 3-game set at County Stadium beginning August 8th.

• Inconsistency plagued the Brewers pitching staff in July; Mike Caldwell (0.68 ERA), Bill Castro (0.82), Ed Farmer (1.29),  and Lary Sorensen (1.29) led the team, but they were hampered by a combined ERA of 5.10 by the rest of the staff.

• To get Caldwell and Sorensen more starts, the Brewers will switch to a 4-man rotation, which will include Bill Travers and Andy Replogle. Jerry Augustine will switch to a reliever role, but will make spot starts when needed. Continue reading

Celebrating Two Years!

SP78 2nd Anniversary - sign
Today is the 2nd anniversary of the Statis Pro 1978 Replay blog site, and it was on this date 34 years ago that the SP78 season had its humble beginnings, with an NL match-up between the Astros and Reds at Riverfront Stadium. Thanks as always for being a fan and a visitor to the site, and wherever you may be today, please be sure to stop by your local Big Boy restaurant for a complimentary slice of hot fudge cake or strawberry pie!