So it's May and the sledding is tougher. Relievers are struggling, the middle of the lineup is leaving men on base and your former ace looks as though he ought to be pitching for a softball team in Glen Burnie.
What do you do?
If you're Toronto, you go looking for a pitcher. You have three or four young outfielders who appear ready for the big leagues, especially 21-year-old Glenallen Hill, who hit 20 homers last summer in Kinston, N.C.
The Blue Jays desperately need another starter because Dave Stieb has dropped to 0-5 and allowed 12 homers in 47 innings. The rumor mill has the Blue Jays shopping George Bell, and possibly Jesse Barfield, if they can strike the right deal.
When Toronto General Manager Pat Gillick fixes the starting rotation, he can roll up his sleeves and go after the bullpen. Remember Dennis Lamp's 11-0 1985? This season, he's 0-3 in his last nine games and has allowed 17 earned runs and 25 hits in 9 1/3 innings.
In all, Toronto pitchers, through Thursday, had allowed 77 runs in their last 10 games.
The situation got so bad that Gillick joined the team on the road last week to assure Manager Jimy Williams that his job wasn't in jeopardy, which probably means it is.
Worries in New York
The New York Yankees are similarly worried about reliever Brian Fisher, who was supposed to be half of the best relief tandem in the league (with Dave Righetti). In his last five appearances through Thursday, he has blown three save opportunities and allowed nine runs and 13 hits in eight innings. Scouts say his fastball is still faster than 90 mph and appears to have straightened out. . . .
Then there's the case of the St. Louis Cardinals, who through Thursday had 12 RBI from pitchers this year, which is more than any of their regulars except center fielder Willie McGee, who has 14.
The Cardinals are especially worried about second baseman Tommy Herr, who was one of the game's three best clutch-hitters last season. For his career, he has hit .295 against right-handed pitchers, but through Thursday had a .115 average against them. . . .
And then there's San Diego reliever Goose Gossage, who is 2-3 with a 4.74 ERA and has allowed 10 earned runs in his last six apperances. In all, Gossage, 34, has allowed 21 hits and eight walks in his last 19 innings through Thursday.
"I've been through this before," he said. "My body's getting out in front, and I'm rushing myself. I'll be all right if they don't give up on me." . . .
A New Eras: The Boston Red Sox went to the West Coast and were out-homered, 13-6, but still won six of eight and might have won all eight, had the bullpen not blown two leads.
Not only have the Red Sox had the league's best starting pitching, but reliever Joe Sambito has been the pickup of the winter. He has gone four for four in save chances and stranded all 13 runners he has inherited.
Sambito doesn't throw 90 mph as he did during his glory days with the Houston Astros, but he has a funky delivery and a nasty slider.
"When he realizes how well he's throwing again, he's going to be one of the best left-handers in the league," Boston's Sammy Stewart said.
The Red Sox have had a couple of down years in pitching; they have not led the American League in ERA since 1914.
At the moment, they have the lowest ERA, the most strikeouts and the fewest walks, and only 13 teams have done that since 1875. The last was the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Detroit Tigers are in sad shape. They dropped under .500 this week for the first time since June 4, 1983 (after a stretch of 463 straight games above .500). They're not hitting left-handed pitching at all (2-8 when a left-hander starts), and the leadoff duo of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker has had back-to-back hits only twice. . . .
Seattle's new manager, Dick Williams, said this week that he didn't abruptly resign as San Diego manager on the first day of spring training but was fired. Williams told a San Diego reporter that he and his wife had room reservations in Arizona and were packing to leave when he got "a phone call."
He said the Padres are paying him and third-base coach Ozzie Virgil for 1986. He also said his Seattle contract, which runs through 1988, has lucrative clauses if the Mariners draw more than 1.4 million fans and/or finish above .500. . . .
Milestone to watch: At 7-1, Houston's Bob Knepper is ahead of Denny McClain's 31-6 pace of 1968. . . .
San Francisco's Candy Maldonado, through Thursday, was seven for 14 as a pinch hitter with three homers and nine pinch RBI. Those nine are more than nine of 12 National League teams. . . . Cincinnati owner Marge Schott was asked about what the repercussions would be if she fired Pete Rose. "I'd have to drive to the grocery store in an armored truck," she said. . . .
The Seattle Mariners are worried about rookie second baseman Danny Tartabull, who has lost 17 pounds, and doctors have yet to discover a reason for it . . . It now appears that Toronto was going to offer reliever Steve Howe a contract before he was banned from baseball. San Jose sources said that Howe didn't test positive on a urinalysis last week and that he may sue Commissioner Peter Ueberroth for banning him.
Tough saves dept.: Texas' Mickey Mahler has two saves through Thursday. He got one by pitching the final three innings of a 10-1 game and another by going the final three of a 19-2 game. . . . After Toronto second baseman Damaso Garcia made an error in Oakland -- his fourth of the season through Thursday, all of them against the A's -- he went into the clubhouse, poured alcohol on his cap, jersey and undershirt and set fire to them.
The Philadelphia Phillies have been above .500 only one day since John Felske became manager 18 months ago, and if they don't have a decent West Coast road trip, baseball sources say there's going to be a housecleaning that will include more than Felske. . . . The New York Mets have their own version of Ed Whitson. He's Rick Aguilera, who has allowed nine homers in 18 innings and was booed mercilessly in his last start at Shea Stadium. . . . The real Ed Whitson is supposed to come off the Yankees' disabled list Tuesday, and he may, since they have found no takers for him.
Helping His Cause
Rick Sutcliffe of the Chicago Cubs is 1-6 this season, and the only time he won was when he hit a three-run home run. The Cubs have scored seven runs in his six losses. . . . Teammate Dennis Eckersley is 1-3, and the only time he won was when he hit a two-run homer.
Finally, this from the world of telepathy. California reliever Doug Corbett has four saves in his last four appearances through Thursday after having only four in the last three seasons combined. He credits the help of a mentalist, saying: "I've developed this sort of tunnel vision when I'm out there. Everything is blacked out. All my energy is focused on my job. I'm getting high, so involved that I have to clinch my fists and scream at the end of the inning to come down."