Henderson led off the game with a single to center and promptly stole second base to tie him with Lou Brock for the single season record at 118. Considering the A’s have 34 games remaining, it’s safe to say that record will be broken. Shortly.
Will the Brewers try to prevent Henderson from breaking the record? Tigers manager Sparky Anderson walked batters in front of Henderson to clog the bases, an interesting strategy.
“If he’s gonna steal,” manager Harvey Kuenn told the Milwaukee Sentinel, “he’s gonna have to go out and earn it. Our goal is to keep him off base four times. The same goal we have for all the hitters.”
Other than the one at bat in the first, the Brewers were successful at keeping Henderson off the bases and the A’s off the scoreboard. Oakland, meanwhile, was not so successful holding down the Brewers offense. In particular, Gorman Thomas.
Gorman hit a three-run homer in the third inning and a two-run shot with two outs in the seventh to give him a major league leading 34 on the season. Thomas also singled and drove in six, putting him one RBI shy of the club record set by Ted Kubiak.
Unlike the A’s and Henderson, of course, the Brewers aren’t a one trick pony. All-Star shortstop Robin Yount went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple while starting pitcher Mike Caldwell tossed yet another gem.
Caldwell allowed three runs on seven hits in his team-high ninth complete game of the season to improve to 12-11. He’s won five of his last seven decisions and seven of his last 11. During his last 52 innings, Caldwell has allowed only 13 runs for a 2.25 ERA.
Is this the same Mike Caldwell who pitched under former manager Buck Rodgers? Caldwell was nearly shipped out of town for later acquisition Doc Medich, who has been far from dependable for the Brewers. Rodgers hinted at naming Caldwell a cancer on the team, and his days as a Brewer seemed to be numbered.
But now? Now he’s pitching like an All-Star.
“He’s pitched great the last two months,” Kuenn said. “If we would have scored some runs in a couple of his losses, he could be 16-7.”
Often overlooked as a factor in the ascension of Harvey’s Wallbangers is the performance of Caldwell. The offense has been great, but other than ace Pete Vuckovich the Brewers needed another reliable arm in the rotation. Caldwell has been it, and then some.
The second place Boston Red Sox split a double header with the Angels, so they fell to 5 1/2 games back of the Brewers.
Game Notes: Ted Simmons had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. … The Brewers will likely call up an outfielder from Vancouver, either Kevin Bass or Mark Brouhard, in the next two days.