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1979 Angels Week 9: Bobby Grich on fire

Grich breaks home run drought, but Carew & Miller will miss some time with injuries

California Angels v New York Yankees

The Angels saw their new All-Star Rod Carew and starting center fielder Rick Miller suffer injuries, the big news for the week ending June 3, 1979, splitting six games with the Mariners and Indians.

The good

Bobby Grich’s bat came alive, going 10-for-21 (.476) with two home runs, four doubles, and nine RBI last week. That included three hits, including two doubles Tuesday in Seattle, then four more hits, with two homers and five RBI in Thursday’s series finale.

The first of those homers, a three-run shot in the fourth inning against Glenn Abbott, raised eyebrows in the home dugout. From Dick Miller in The Sporting News (June 23, 1979):

When Bobby Grich hit a long home run against Seattle, the Mariners immediately asked to have his bat checked for cork. The next time at bat, Grich hit an even longer homer and finished the night with five RBIs to continue his drive for comeback honors. “I wasn’t mad when they wanted the bat checked,” Grich confessed. “On the contrary, it’s quite the compliment. Usually, they just check the sluggers like Don Baylor.”

It’s not that Grich was dormant offensively; he was slugging .500 on the season before that two-homer game. But before the final day of May, Grich had just one home run in his previous 27 games, hitting just .205 during that time. But after his red-hot week against the Mariners and Indians, Grich is hitting .302/.360/.553 and looking very likely to make his fourth All-Star team, which would be his first since joining the Angels.

Don Baylor homered three times and drove in seven last week, and became the first Angels position player to be named American League Player of the Month for May. He hit .354/.431/.667 with seven home runs, eight doubles, and 23 RBI during the month, leading the AL in home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS during May, while second in total bases (66).

The Angels players of the month before Baylor were all pitchers — Nolan Ryan in September 1976, and Frank Tanana three times (once each from 1976-78).

Halos starting pitchers averaged 6⅔ innings per start, lasting at least six innings in five of six games, with a 4.05 ERA. That included Jim Barr pressed back into starter’s duty with a pair of seven-inning starts, his third and fourth starts on the season.

The bad

Rod Carew, the Angels’ big acquisition last offseason, had another solid week, with six hits in 16 at-bats, and he’s hitting .355 with a .457 on-base percentage on the season. But he sprained his right thumb Friday against the Indians and is now out indefinitely.

Center fielder Rick Miller in that same game against Cleveland broke a bone in his left hand, and he’ll be out a while, too.

The injuries opened up first base for Willie Aikens and some shuffling in the outfield. The week ended with 39-year-old Willie Davis getting his first starts of the season, in right field, and Joe Rudi back in the lineup for the first time in 11 days, at designated hitter.

Weekly summary

3-3 record
31 runs scored (5.17 per game)
32 runs allowed (5.33 per game)
.485 pythagorean record

Year-to-date summary

31-22 record
289 runs scored (5.45 per game)
240 runs allowed (4.53 per game)
.584 pythagorean record (31-22)

AL West standing: t-1st place, even with Texas (30-21) though percentage points behind

Game results

Up next

The Angels resume their long homestand against AL East foes, welcoming the Blue Jays and Tigers for three games each to Anaheim Stadium.