For the most part, 1988 was a disappointing season for the Toronto Blue Jays. But a bright spot was the development of Kelly Gruber as a major league third baseman.
In a professional career that began in 1980, Gruber bounced around between the minors and majors until 1986, when he made it as a utility player, largely because he could play any infield position.
Last season he began to show power when he won a regular job at third. He hit 16 home runs, drove in 81 runs and batted .278. He started this season the way he finished last season.
Gruber reached a peak Sunday at Toronto. He became the first Blue Jay to hit for the cycle and drove in six runs to lead the Blue Jays to a 15-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Gruber hit a home run in the first inning, doubled in the second, tripled in the seventh and, in his last at-bat, singled in the eighth. Gruber, 27, has three home runs and 14 runs batted in and is hitting .422.
The slugging of Gruber and his teammates took Dave Stieb off the hook. It figured that Stieb, who had thrown one-hitters in three of his last four starts, might be due for a poor outing.
And poor it was. Steib retired only one batter and was shelled for six runs and four hits, including a two-run double by Bo Jackson.
"I knew I had it when I hit the ball in the eighth inning," Gruber said. "Only thing was whether I wanted to try for a double. With us so far ahead, I settled for the single and the cycle.
"Frank White (the Royals' second baseman) congratulated me, but he couldn't shake my hand. He told me the time he was close he needed a triple. I guess a single wasn't much to need."
The loser was Bret Saberhagen, making a rare relief appearance after being shelled out in the first inning as a starter Saturday.
Minnesota 9, New York 4--It was a good day for third basemen in the American League. Gary Gaetti of the Twins hit two home runs and also drove in six runs.
Maybe Yankee Manager Dallas Green was right the first time when he felt that Tommy John could no longer pitch in the majors. Green appeared to be wrong when John opened the season by pitching the Yankees to a victory at Minnesota.
John (1-2) gave up a three-run home run to Gaetti in the third, an RBI single in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh. He gave up 12 hits and eight runs in 6 2/3 innings.
"The only two bad pitches I made all day were to the firm of Gaetti and Gaetti," said the 45-year-old left-hander.
Allan Anderson, given strong support, improved his record to 3-0. He went seven innings, giving up seven hits, but only one of the three runs he gave up was earned.
Texas 9, Detroit 6--There seems to be no stopping the Rangers. Pete Incaviglia hit a home run and drove in three runs at Detroit to lead the leaders of the West to their eighth consecutive victory.
The Rangers, who moved to Texas 17 years go, have won eight in a row three other times.
Rafael Palmeiro and Steve Buechele also homered in the 15-hit attack that handed Tiger ace Jack Morris his third consecutive defeat.
In 14 1/3 innings, Morris has given up 13 earned runs for an earned-run average of 8.16. Although the Tigers scored for the first time in the hard-throwing right-hander's three starts, they still haven't scored while he was on the mound this season.
Charlie Hough, who pitched a five-hitter against Morris in the season opener, beat the Tigers again. But he was not sharp. He gave up five hits and five runs before departing with one out in the sixth.
Matt Nokes hit his third homer for the Tigers in the ninth.
The Rangers are 10-1, while the Tigers are 2-7.
"When you get off to a start like this, there isn't anybody who isn't doing a good job," Manager Bobby Valentine said. "We've also been lucky. We're swinging the bat and believing. The believing's the thing.
Oakland 3, Chicago 2--Walt Weiss recovered from the flu just in time. After missing three starts, the Athletics' shortstop came up with the big hits at Chicago.
Weiss singled in the third inning and scored a run and then, with the score tied 2-2, delivered a run-scoring single to give the crippled Athletics the victory.
"I'm back at full strength," Weiss said. "The previous three days I didn't feel like doing anything."
The White Sox had only themselves to blame for the loss. They had a runner thrown out at home, two others thrown out at third and a fourth picked off first base.
Milwaukee 4, Cleveland 3--Glenn Braggs, who already had two hits and two runs batted in, singled with the bases loaded in the 10th inning at Milwaukee to give the Brewers a sweep of the three-game series.
A single by B.J. Surhoff and a one-out double by Robin Yount put runners on second and third in the 10th. Rob Deer was given an intentional walk. Braggs ripped Jesse Orosco's first pitch up the middle to end the game.
The Indians jumped in front in the first inning on Pete O'Brien's second homer.