Whenever the New York Yankees lost this season and Ron Guidry went to the mound - he made sure they started winning again. And when the Yankees lost a manager - Guidry made sure the new manager won.
"It's nice to break in with 15-1 pitcher," said Bob Lemon, who in his first game had the difficult task of inheriting what Billy Martin left behind.
"It take it upon myself to turn things around," said Guidry, who 12 times this season has won following Yankees losses. Of his 21 starts this year, the Yankees have gone on to win 19 times.
Tuesday night, however, Guidry was faced with turning things around after a different sort of loss.
"I try a lot harder after we lose," said Guidry, who blanked Kansas City, 4-0, on six hits to end a 10-game Royals' winning streak that included a 5-2 win over New York Monday night.
"I'm still learning how to pitch," Guidry said. He'd hurled his fourth shotout of the season, lowering his major-league leading ERA to 1.99. "I paced myself in the first few innings. It was real hot and humid, but in the fourth or fifth inning I starged throwing hard again."
The lean left-hander from Louisiana's Cajun country struck out eight in pitching his second straight shutout and eighth complete game. He has struck out 153 this season, and is tied with California's Nolan Ryan for the American League lead.
New York scored the only run Guidry needed in the third when Mickey Rivers reached first on a throwing error by shortstop Fred Patek, stole second and came home on a double by Willie Randolph.
Rivers opened the eighth inning with a double against Paul Splittorff (11-9), advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Thurman Munson's double. After a walk to Lou Piniella and Graig Nettles' fielder's choice, Roy White and Jim Spencer delivered back-to-back run-scoring singles for three insurance runs.
"I threw a lot of sliders tonight," said Guidry, against whom AL batters are hitting .212. "Everybody knows the fastball is my best pitch and they key on it. They can't keep taking my sliders. They know I can blow the ball by them at any time."
One who knows is Kansas City's All-Star third baseman George Brett.
"I'd say he's the best in the league now that Frankie (Tanana) is not throwing as hard as he used to," Brett said. "When you give a guy like Guidry four runs he's going to be awfully hard to beat."