It was the slow-footed Simmons who dropped a surprise bunt in the first with two outs and Yount on third that would score a run.
“That surprised everyone,” manager Harvey Kuenn told the Milwaukee Sentinel. “Including myself. He did it strictly on his own. I know he caught the Angels by surprise and us too. A pleasant surprise.”
In the bottom of the first, Simmons stepped up again to keep the Brewers in the lead. With two outs, Rod Carew took off from first on a pitch to Fred Lynn. Lynn laced a base hit into the gap in right center, and Carew raced around third towards the plate. Outfielder Charlie Moore fired a one hop bullet to Simmons, who blocked the plate and tagged Carew before he could score.
Simmons, of course, was not done. In the fifth inning and the score still 1-0, the Brewers catcher again made his presence known with two outs. Simmons drove a Steve Renko fastball over the right field wall for a two-run homer to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.
That would be a critical hit as the Angels would strike right back in the bottom of the fifth with two runs of their own. The Angels would then pull to within one on a Reggie Jackson solo homer in the bottom of the sixth.
At that point, it was shortstop Robin Yount who took center stage. Robin doubled home Paul Molitor in the top of the seventh to give the Brewers a two-run lead and knock out Renko. Then, in the top of the ninth and Molitor on again, Yount knocked a two run homer to put the game out of reach. Yount finished with four hits, two runs scored and three runs batted in.
The contributions of Simmons and Yount were nice, but it was the mound work of Pete Vuckovich that kept the Brewers in control all game. Vuke allowed only three earned runs on seven hits in a complete game to improve to 15-4. Vuke shares the league lead in wins with Kansas City’s Larry Gura, and he stands alone with a .790 winning percentage. Vuckovich is now 29-8 in his two seasons with the Brewers and is gaining a reputation for winning big games.
“He’s got to be the best,” Kuenn said of Vuckovich. “He rises to the occasion each and every time.”
The second place Red Sox beat the Mariners 5-4 in 12 innings to keep pace five games back of the Brewers. Milwaukee has a day off tomorrow before starting a four-game series with the A’s in Milwaukee.
Game Notes: Reggie Jackson hit his 31st home run of the season, pulling to within one of Gorman Thomas for the AL lead. … Rickey Henderson of the A’s stole two more bases and now has 116, two shy of Lou Brock‘s single season record. Henderson and the A’s now head to Milwaukee for four games, where the Brewers will be challenged to prevent Henderson from breaking the record.