National League Roundup : Giants Complete a Sweep of Astros, 10-3
Where have all the races gone?
Since the major leagues split into divisions in 1969, there has been at least one tight race and usually more than one.
But, with two weeks remaining in the regular season, all four division races appear to be all but over, barring a complete collapse.
All that is left is to keep track of are the magic numbers.
In the National League East, the New York Mets need a combination of three victories or Pittsburgh defeats to win for the second time in three years. With 14 games left, they should have no problem.
A couple of weeks ago, it seemed almost certain that there would be a battle in the West. Although the Dodgers had a fairly comfortable lead, most of their remaining games were with contenders.
What contenders? They nearly disappeared this weekend. The Dodgers took care of the Cincinnati Reds themselves.
But it was Roger Craig who took care of the top challenger. Craig watched his San Francisco Giants nearly put an end to the race with a sweep at Houston.
Don Robinson pitched and batted the Giants to a 10-3 victory Sunday at the Astrodome to move into a tie for second place with the Astros, nine games behind the surging Dodgers.
The Dodgers have only 14 games remaining and their magic number, in double figures just a couple of days ago, is now six.
Will Clark hit a two-run home run off Mike Scott (13-8) to send Robinson (8-4) off to his fourth win in his last five decisions.
It was Clark’s 27th home run, and Robinson’s first in the fourth inning made it 6-0 to ensure the three-game sweep. It was the eighth career home run for Robinson, who came out of the bullpen to help when the Giants lost several starters because of injuries. Robinson gave up a run and four hits in seven innings.
As Manager Hal Lanier watched the Astros fade from the race, he closed the clubhouse, then ordered the batting cage set up.
“You have to have pride,” Lanier said after ordering his players to take postgame batting practice. “If you can’t finish first, you certainly want to be second.
“We’ve worked too hard to let the whole season go down the drain the last three days. We have to have the intensity to win all the rest.”
Craig tried to deflect questions. “Maybe this workout will help the Astros beat the Dodgers,” he said.
New York 5, Montreal 3--After Darryl Strawberry hit his 34th home run and Dwight Gooden pitched a strong eight innings at New York, all that the Mets had to worry about is who would start the first game of the playoffs.
That problem was solved, too. Manager Davey Johnson chose Gooden (18-7), although David Cone has had the best pitching statistics for the Mets much of the season.
“We will use four starters and Doc (Gooden) will open up. I’ll tell you that much,” Johnson said.
Gooden, who walked two and struck out nine to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions, will get two more starts in a bid to win 20 for the second time.
Philadelphia 6, Pittsburgh 5--Phil Bradley hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning at Philadelphia to apparently end the Pirates’ hopes.
Bradley drove in Lance Parrish, who tripled over center fielder Andy Van Slyke’s head with one out.
The Pirates had battled back to tie the score in the seventh on Sid Bream’s ninth home run.
Manager Jim Leyland used rookies, Scott Medvin and Randy Kramer (0-1) in the last two innings.
“I wanted to see the young pitchers in a tight game,” he said.
Atlanta 6, San Diego 5--In one of the few races remaining, Tony Gwynn and Gerald Perry battled to a standstill at Atlanta.
Both of the leading batters in the league went 2 for 5. So, with two weeks remaining, Gwynn leads Perry, .3092 to .3086.
It was a pinch-hit single by Ozzie Virgil in the 10th inning that drove in the winning run.
St. Louis 5, Chicago 4--Despite such problems as having all their starting pitchers on the disabled list, the Cardinals have a shot at finishing third in the East.
Larry McWilliams (6-7) singled in the first two runs at Chicago and pitched well until the first of two long rain delays. He was leading, 5-0, but needed help when play was resumed in the sixth.
The Cardinals are only 1 1/2 games behind Montreal.
After missing a game because of a sore neck, Pedro Guerrero returned to the Cardinal lineup and had three hits.