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1979 Angels Week 21: Great offense, terrible pitching

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Angels set franchise record for runs in a game, Baylor sets club RBI mark for season

California Angles

It was a roller coaster of emotions for the 1979 Angels last week, as they dropped both series, including on the road to the lowly Blue Jays. The Angels also set a franchise record (that still stands in 2020, by the way) for runs scored in a game.

But even with their 24-2 win in Toronto on Saturday, the Angels did not have a positive run differential for the week.

The rotation was atrocious last week, with Angels starters allowing five or more runs in five of the six games. In total, the group allowed 30 runs in 34 innings, including Nolan Ryan giving up 11 runs in 8⅓ innings in his two starts, both losses.

Dave Frost had the lone quality start in the bunch, pitching a complete game in Saturday’s blowout win. Frost also allowed six runs Tuesday at home against Cleveland, though only two of the runs were earned.

The big outburst

Angels bats busted out on Saturday in Toronto, scoring eight runs in the first inning and not stopping. They scored in each of the first six innings, and set a club record with 24 runs in a blowout win.

Don Baylor went off, driving in eight with two home runs and a double. The MVP candidate ended the week hitting .294/.374/.536 with 30 home runs, the first Angel with two 30-homer seasons. His eight RBI on Saturday gave him a major-league-best 118 through 130 games, and surpassed Bobby Bonds’ franchise record for RBI in a season.

But he wasn’t alone in Saturday’s blowout.

Brian Downing had four hits, including a triple and a double, and scored four times. We talked a lot about perennial batting champion Rod Carew chasing another batting title, and at week’s end he’s at .322, but still 31 plate appearances shy of qualifying. But Downing is hitting .333(/.427/.472), second only to Fred Lynn in batting average in the American League. To this point in 1979, no AL catcher ever won a batting title, and the last National League catcher to do so was Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

AL batting average leaders

Player Pos Team Avg
Player Pos Team Avg
Fred Lynn CF Bos 0.344
Brian Downing C Cal 0.333
George Brett 3B KC 0.331
Steve Kemp LF Det 0.329
Jim Rice LF Bos 0.329
Sixto Lezcano RF Mil 0.328
Bruce Bochte 1B Sea 0.323
through August 26, 1979 source: Baseball-Reference

Bobby Grich homered and doubled among his three hits, and drove in four.

Former Riverside Community College standout Bobby Clark was called up for his major league debut Monday, and Saturday, in his fourth major league game and second start, he was 3-for-6 with a home run and a triple, driving in three. It was one of two triples for Clark in his first week, going 5-for-11 (.455).

Rick Miller was 3-for-5 with a double and scored twice. He was 10-for-25 (.400) for the week

All nine Angels starters had at least two hits in this win, just the 20th time in MLB history a team had nine starters collect multiple hits.

Though he didn’t play in the big Saturday game in Toronto, rookie Willie Aikens was 7-for-16 (.438) during the week, with two homers and five RBI.

Weekly summary

2-4 record
47 runs scored (7.83 per game)
47 runs allowed (7.83 per game)
.500 pythagorean record

Year-to-date summary

71-59 record
713 runs scored (5.48 per game)
599 runs allowed (4.61 per game)
.579 pythagorean record (75-55)

AL West standing: 1st place, 2½ games up on Minnesota & Kansas City

Game results

Up next

The Angels finish up their road trip with three games in Detroit and four in Cleveland.