Managers and other baseball experts enjoy telling us that because a starting pitcher only plays every fourth or fifth day, he doesn't have the impact of a player who performs every day.
They claim that if you're looking for a dominating player, go for hitters such as Eric Davis, Wally Joyner, Darryl Strawberry or Pedro Guerrero. A pitcher can't control a pennant race.
They forget that Roger Clemens was a dominant factor for the Boston Red Sox last season and that Bret Saberhagen was a key factor for the Kansas City Royals the year before.
The Royals, after winning the American League West in 1985 when Saberhagen was 20-6, fell 16 games behind the Angels last year when Saberhagen, bothered by shoulder and foot problems, dropped to 7-12.
With Saberhagen back in his best form, the Royals are once again battling for the division title.
Saberhagen flirted with a no-hitter, pitched a two-hitter and kept the Royals atop the West with a 4-0 victory over the Indians Saturday at Cleveland. It gave Saberhagen a 6-0 record. The Royals also have won six in a row.
The 23-year-old right-hander from Reseda retired 18 batters in a row before Brett Butler opened the seventh with a single. Saberhagen, who did not walk a man and struck out 9, faced only 28 batters, one over the minimum.
Saberhagen has started six games and completed three of them. His worst outing was last week against the Indians when he gave up 4 runs and 10 hits in 8 innings.
He remembers well his first no-hitter. It was in 1982 when he pitched Reseda Cleveland High School to a 13-0 victory over Palisades for the City prep championship.
"Today, I started thinking no-hitter about the sixth inning," he said. "I didn't dare consider a perfect game. I didn't get either, but a shutout and a victory are satisfying enough.
"Butler had a hit fair and square off a changeup. And (Andre) Thornton also hit the ball hard for the other hit.
"I may be a better pitcher than I was when I won the Cy Young Award. I throw three pitches now--curve, fastball and changeup--and no more slider. With the curve my only breaking pitch, I throw it better."
Tom Candiotti (1-5) took the Indians' sixth consecutive defeat. Candiotti, returning after being sidelined with a sore elbow, was hurt by four errors and a passed ball.
"For a guy who hadn't pitched in 12 games, Candiotti looked good," Indian Manager Pat Corrales said. "Obviously, Saberhagen has a great arm."
Candiotti departed shortly after Juan Beniquez hit a homer in the ninth, his second in two games, having given up 10 hits but only 3 earned runs.
Baltimore 15, Chicago 6--Eddie Murray is back in the swing, and the Orioles are blazing.
The switch-hitting first baseman became the first player in major league history to hit home runs from each side of the plate in successive games.
Going into Friday night's game at Chicago, Murray was in the worst slump of his career, batting only .202. But then he homered from the left side in the fourth inning, and with two out in the ninth and Chicago leading, he hit a two-run homer from the right side to win the game.
Saturday night, the Orioles had six home runs. Murray hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning batting right-handed to give the Orioles the lead for good, 7-6. In the sixth, Murray hit one left-handed.
Murray has hit homers from both sides in the same game 8 times. Mickey Mantle holds the record of 10.
Murray went 4 for 6 and drove in 4 runs in the rout.
Seattle 8, Milwaukee 2--Since their 13-0 start, the Brewers aren't even a .500 club (7-8).
In this game at Milwaukee, Jim Presley and Dave Valle each had two hits and drove in three runs as the Mariners handed the slumping Brewers their fifth defeat in a row.
Mike Morgan (3-3) pitched his second consecutive complete-game victory for the Mariners. He yielded runs in the fifth and sixth after the Mariners gave him a 6-0 lead.
"We certainly weren't in this one," Brewer Manager Tom Trebelhorn said, "but I think we could have gotten 11 or 12 hits the way we hit the ball. They made three excellent plays in the outfield."
Minnesota 2, New York 0--A couple of players who have spent most of their professional careers in the minors put an end to the Yankees' nine-game unbeaten string at Yankee Stadium.
Al Newman, who has spent most of his five-year career in the minors, drove in both runs to make a winner out of Les Straker (2-0), a 10-year minor leaguer.
Straker gave up 2 hits in 5 innings. Juan Berenguer came to the rescue, and Jeff Reardon staggered to the save.
Mike Pagliarulo, who hit a grand slam with the bases full in the ninth inning Friday night, popped up for the last out this time, again with the bases full.
Oakland 8, Detroit 7--Pinch-hitter Ron Cey hit a two-run double to cap a four-run eighth inning that brought the Athletics from behind at Detroit.
A two-run home run by Darrell Evans helped the Tigers build their lead to 7-4 in the seventh.
Toronto 15, Texas 4--George Bell hit two home runs and a double and drove in seven runs at Arlington, Tex., to make it easy for Dave Stieb to gain his first win after two defeats.
For Bell, it was his third consecutive three-hit game.
Stieb, who has been told by management to make his own decision on when he will undergo surgery for bone chips in his right elbow, went 6 innings. He gave up 7 hits.