Now that Dennis Leonard's slider is finally sliding, the Kansas City Royals aren't.
Instead, the Royals have come alive after a so-so first half and are part of a torrid four-team race as they attempt to defend their title in the American League West.
Leonard hurled a four-hitter for his seventh victory in his last eight decisions Thursday night and boosted his record to 13-10 as the Royals blanked the Cleveland Indians, 4-0. The hard-throwing right-hander walked one, struck out six and allowed only three runners to reach second base.
Leonard was struggling along at 3-8 when Manager Whitey Herzog told him to make the slider a large part of his repertoire following a 10-1 battering in Bostton, May 27.
"As soon as he started throwing the slider it gave him better command of his cur ve ball," Herzog said. "When he started throwing the slider it was the turning point in the season for him."
In other Thursday night games: Rangers 8, Blue Jays 0
Dock Ellis shackled Toronto on three hits nd Toby Harrah and Bump Wills slammed home runs to keep the Rangers in first place in the West by one-half game over Minnesota and Chicago. Ellis retired 18 batters in a row as the Rangers rooler to their 30th victory in the last 39 games. They are 34-15 under Manager Billy Hunter.