It was the third and final day of the All-Star break for the Royals, and the rest of Major League Baseball. Riding a six-game winning streak, Kansas City was headed on a six-game road trip to start the break, with four games in Detroit and then two in New York.
With just about 2.5 months to go in the season, let’s take a look at the division races around baseball. The Royals’ recent surge had them in second place in the AL West, just 2.5 games behind Chicago. Minnesota had led the division for much of the first half, but had fallen to five games out of first. Texas was eight games back, with California 11 games out of first. Oakland and the expansion Seattle Mariners were fighting to stay out of the basement, with the A’s 15 games out of first and Seattle 15.5 games back.
The AL East featured a tight three-way contest for the lead. Baltimore was just a half-game ahead of Boston, with New York three games back. Those three had separated from the rest of the division; Cleveland was in fourth place and 10 games out, Milwaukee was 11 games out, and Detroit was 11.5 back. The expansion Toronto Blue Jays were bringing up the rear as expected, at 19 games out of first.
In the NL West, Los Angeles had opened up a commanding 9.5-game advantage over the second-place Cincinnati Reds, the defending World Series champion. The other four teams in the division were well under .500, with Houston 16.5 games behind the Dodgers, San Francisco 17 games out, San Diego 20.5 games back, and Atlanta 24.5 games out. The Braves had a worse record than either of the expansion teams and the worst mark in baseball at 34-57.
The NL East had a much better race going on, with Chicago trying to hold off Philadelphia. The Cubs, who of course had not been in the postseason since the 1945 World Series, held a 2.5-game lead on the defending division champion Phillies. Pittsburgh was hanging in there at 5.5 games back. St. Louis was 8.5 games out, with Montreal 12 games out and New York at 18.5 behind the Cubs.
1977 news: After a foot of rain fell in a 24-hour period near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flooding was sure to follow, and it did. More than 128 million gallons of water entered the valley after six dams either failed or were overrun, and the city was covered with six feet of water. Johnstown had previously undergone two notable floods, in 1889 and 1936; this one killed 84 people and did more than $300 million in damage.
Today’s birthday: Mark Lee (1964)