Tommy John, in his 700th major league game, pitched a seven-hitter for his 273rd victory as the New York Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-1, last night in Minneapolis in a battle of American League division leaders.
"He just throws the ball over the plate for strikes," Minnesota's Kent Hrbek said. "It's his game. He plays for the groundball."
John said his fastball was lacking, so he went to a "do-fer, a pitch that'll do till you get something else working." Catcher Mark Salas called it "a forkball or something." Whatever, it forced a plethora of grounders that helped Don Mattingly tie a major league record with 22 putouts in nine innings by a first baseman. It had been accomplished by three players, the last time by Ernie Banks in 1963.
However, Mattingly, who on Sunday was foiled in his bid for a homer in a major league record ninth straight game, went zero for four, stopping his string of games with at least one extra-base hit at 10, an AL record but four shy of Paul Waner's 60-year-old major league mark. He also aggravated an injury to his right wrist and "may have to miss a few games," Yankees Manager Lou Piniella said.
Mike Pagliarulo ended a scoreless tie with a fifth-inning homer and
las also homered in support of John (9-3), who moved into a tie with Red Ruffing for 24th place on the all-time victory list.
It was John's first complete game of the year and his first complete-game victory since July 8, 1984. The AL East-leading Yankees are 15-3 in John's 18 starts this season.
Tigers 5, Athletics 4:
In Detroit, pinch runner Jim Walewander scored from first base when Oakland outfielders Mike Davis and Luis Polonia collided on Darrell Evans' routine fly ball in the eighth inning.
With the score 4-4, Bill Madlock opened the Detroit eighth with a single and Walewander entered as a pinch runner. Two outs later, Evans hit a soft fly to right-center that either Davis or Polonia could have caught. But they bumped, and the ball went off Davis' glove for an error.
Angels 3, Red Sox 2:
Devon White singled home the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning to lead visiting California.
Starter Willie Fraser allowed only one hit, a two-out double by Boston's Wade Boggs in the first, until he was forced to leave in the fourth when he was hit on the right hand by Boggs' line drive. X-rays showed Fraser suffered a bruised hand.
California first baseman Wally Joyner did not play because of a rib cage injury.
Indians 9, Royals 5:
In Kansas City, Mo., Rick Dempsey drove in three runs and Mel Hall and Cory Snyder hit home runs to extend the Royals' losing streak to six games.
Phil Niekro (7-9) pitched five innings to record his 318th career victory. The 48-year-old knuckleballer allowed eight hits and became the third pitcher to give up 5,000 hits in a career. Cy Young and Pud Galvin were the others.
Earlier, Kansas City dropped from its roster Hal McRae, 42, a .290 hitter and one of baseball's most respected students of batting. He will become a full-time hitting instructor unless he joins another team.
Blue Jays 5, Rangers 3:
Garth Iorg hit two bases-empty home runs and a double to lead Toronto in Arlington, Tex.
Iorg's first homers of the season helped Toronto beat Texas for the ninth time in 10 games this year.
Brewers 13, Mariners 11:
In a game delayed 2 hours and 38 minutes by rain, Glenn Braggs hit a three-run home run and Robin Yount drove in three runs to lead Milwaukee at home.
Chuck Crimm improved to (4-5), pitching two innings of scoreless relief. Mark Clear hurled the ninth for his third save. Seattle starter Mike Morgan (7-11) took the loss.