Last week was one for pitchers, for Don Sutton to win his 300th, for Charlie Hough to blow a no-hitter, for Danny Darwin to find his rabbit's foot, literally if not figuratively. What they proved again and again and again is that their game is loony:
Through Friday games, Hough had pitched 21 2/3 innings in his last two starts and allowed two earned runs and nine hits. That's good for a 0.83 ERA. That's also good for one no-decision and a loss. He has allowed two hits in his last 16 2/3 innings (through Friday), and was within three outs of a no-hitter this week when George Wright dropped a fly ball and Wally Joyner lined a single to center.
California's Sutton, 41, said his new goals are to pitch 5,000 innings and make 700 career starts, milestones that are within reach since he already has 4,870 innings and 685 starts.
How remarkable has his career been? He's No. 16 on the all-time baseball victory list, but has won 20 games only once. He's third all-time in starts, but has led the league in starts only once. He has had 20 straight 100-plus strikeout seasons, but has never led the league in strikeouts. He has also pitched at least 200 innings every season except the strike-shortened one, but has never led the league in innings pitched.
He was the first pitcher to win on artificial turf, has the fewest 20-victory seasons among winners of 300 games and has been on the disabled list only once in his career (for a period of four starts in 1981).
"I've never been considered spectacular," Sutton said. "I just wanted to be dependable. The most spectacular pitcher I ever saw was Sandy Koufax. The most dependable was Don Drysdale. Yet I broke all of their Dodgers records."
Sutton has pitched complete games in two of his last three starts. He had two complete games in 1984 and 1985 combined.
After Milwaukee Manager George Bamberger added Darwin to the Brewers' starting rotation, Darwin went only 1-2 despite a 1.70 ERA in his first four starts.
"I don't know," Darwin said. "Maybe you can call me unlucky. Maybe I need a rabbit's foot."
The next day he arrived at the Brewers' clubhouse to find someone had sent him four of them -- attached to a live rabbit. Not Much Help
Add pitching: Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen already has lost one more game (seven) than he did all last season, but the Royals have scored two or fewer runs in seven of his 14 starts.
More on pitching: Oakland's Curt Young allowed 15 homers in 46 innings last season. This season, he has given up two in 61 1/3 innings, none in his last 48. He credits designated hitter Dave Kingman for teaching him a better change-up . . .
The Los Angeles Dodgers are having all kinds of problems with their starting rotation. Bob Welch has gone winless in nine starts (5.70 ERA) and Jerry Reuss was winless in seven starts (8.64) going into last night's game. Orel Hershiser has one victory in five starts (7.13 ERA) . . .
Chicago White Sox boss Ken Harrelson had better pray for his interim manager, Doug Rader. Sources near the White Sox say owner Jerry Reinsdorf may clean house when this season is over, and the cleaning will start with Harrelson.
Reinsdorf apparently would like to see Dave Dombrowski, fired from the front office by Harrelson, as general manager.
Last week marked the first anniversary of Billy Gardner's firing by the Minnesota Twins. When he was fired last season, the Twins were 27-35. Not good enough, management said. This season, in the first 62 games under Ray Miller, Minnesota was two games worse -- 25-37 . . .
On the road back to the minors? California rookie sensation Joyner was hitting .203 this month (12 for 59), through Thursday's games. . .
The Houston Astros apparently want to trade infielders Dickie Thon and Phil Garner, although General Manager Dick Wagner has promised to fire any employe who leaks information to the media . . .
An indication that the Angels are for real is that their pitchers already had 13 complete games, three more than all last season. When Reggie Jackson got his batting average up to .325 Tuesday, it was the highest it had been this late in a season in 12 years. Another California miracle is 38-year-old catcher Bob Boone, who still has the best throwing arm in the AL. He has thrown out 23 of 40 base runners this season . . . Bullpen Is Saving Braves
The Atlanta Braves used only four starting pitchers in their first 62 games, but, lately, it's the bullpen that has kept them in the NL West race. In their last 26 games, their starters have only five victories, four of them by Rick Mahler.
Joe Johnson is winless in six starts, David Palmer is winless in seven starts and Zane Smith has one victory in seven starts. Meanwhile, the bullpen, even without Bruce Sutter, has been excellent. Gene Garber has allowed two earned runs in his last 34 1/3 innings and Paul Assenmacher has three wins and six saves in the 26 games.
The Braves also have gotten an unexpected boost from rookie left-hander Ed Olwine, who was picked up from the New York Mets in a minor league deal. In seven games as a reliever, he's allowed two earned runs . . .
Short takes: The dad of Pittsburgh's Billy Almon drove from Rhode Island to Shea Stadium in New York last week to see his son play. The kid went zero for 10 and made an error and the father had his car stolen from a stadium parking lot . . . Toronto designated hitter Cliff Johnson already has 10 homers and 36 RBI, more than any Blue Jays' DH had all last season . . . Tough week for Toronto's Jesse Barfield. On Monday, he was hit in the hip by Milwaukee's Billy Wegman and in the left shoulder by Jaime Cocanower. On Tuesday, he received a flesh wound when a waitress dropped a fork on him and, later in the day, a teammate dropped a bat on his foot. That night, however, he had a go-ahead single in the 10th and a game-winning double in the 12th . . .
When the Brewers brought Paul Molitor off the disabled list Tuesday, it was the first time since May 7, 1982, they hadn't had a player on the DL. He went back on it Thursday with a pulled hamstring . . . Good Off Gooden
Montreal's Tim Wallach was only one for 19 off Dwight Gooden until last week, when he became the first player to have a two-homer game against Gooden . . .
Clint Hurdle on the St. Louis Cardinals getting booed at Busch Stadium: "This is a country club compared to Philadelphia and New York. I've seen people beaten to the ground. I've seen grown men cry."