Most of the attention in baseball this day was on New York, where the Yankees were playing the Orioles one day after the death of Thurman Munson in a plane crash in Ohio. I could have chosen to write about that game, a 1-0 Orioles win, but I don't feel that I could do it justice. If you'd like to read more about Thurman Munson, here is a good place to check.
Jim Fregosi, the manager of the Angels, had his team in first place, but was troubled by injuries to Nolan Ryan (who had a sore elbow) and a case of tonsilitis that forced first baseman Rod Carew to the bench for a few games. Jim Barr was starting for the Angels on the mound. The Twins, managed by Gene Mauch, were just four games out and had veteran lefty Jerry Koosman starting.
The Twins started out well, scoring twice in the first inning. Second baseman Rob Wilfong and center fielder Ken Landreaux singled with one out. Designated hitter Danny Goodwin (the only person to be the #1 pick in the draft twice) doubled to score both men.
In the third, right fielder Hosken Powell tripled to right to lead off. Wilfong then hit a sacrifice fly to score Powell and the Twins led 3-0. Shortstop Roy Smalley homered in the seventh to make it 4-0.
The Angels offense came to life in the eighth. Third baseman Carney Lansford led off with a triple to center and scored on a ground out by right fielder Dan Ford. Baylor and Downing each singled and Mike Marshall came into relieve and got Rudi to ground into a 5-4-3 DP.
In the ninth, Grich got a leadoff single. Carew came up to pinch hit and struck out and pinch hitter Willie Aikens grounded into a double play to end the game.
The Angels were in a stretch where they had lost 10 of 15 games and they would go 11-17 in August. But a 16-11 September would be enough for the Angels to win their first division title. They won just 88 games, but that was three better than Kansas City. The Angels lost to Baltimore in the ALCS in four games. The Twins finished in fourth at 82-80.
Baylor won the MVP award with a .296 average, 36 homers, and 139 RBI. Despite his injury, Ryan still led the AL in strikeouts with 223.
The Twins, who had traded Carew to the Angels in the offseason, had improved by nine wins. Marshall led the AL in saves with 32.