The Cleveland Indians, out to prove Frank Lane was right all along, pushed their season-opening victory streak to six before losing. Pennant hopes were raised by the enigmatic Herb Score's encouraging pitching and the unexpected hitting of Shortstop George Strickland and Third Baseman Woody Held. Also gratifying was the bullpen work of muscular Dick Brodowski, a good sinker-ball thrower. In three appearances Brodowski, who couldn't make it in three previous major league trials, won one game and saved two. The Chicago White Sox, after beginning the season with four straight wins, lots of homers and a gala Opening Day spectacle produced and staged by New Owner Bill Veeck, quickly subsided into their punchless days of yore. In their next five games (three of them losses), the White Sox could manage just one home run and only four other extra-base hits, causing Manager Al Lopez to bench alleged power-hitting rookies Johnny Callison (one hit so far) and Norm Cash (2 for last 13 AB). Splendid relief pitching (by Arias, Shaw, Staley, Lown and Rudolph), which was lacking last year, was wasted for the want of a few timely hits. The New York Yankees, who some people thought would never lose a game, shocked everyone by losing two in a row! Lest the other teams become too heartened, the Yanks snapped back to smash out 18 hits in beating the Red Sox 16-7, before losing again in 12 innings. Earlier in the week they scored 13 runs in one game against the usually run-stingy Orioles. Oh, yes, Whitey Ford and Don Larsen showed no traces of arm trouble in winning their first starts. The flu-stricken Boston Red Sox pumped penicillin shots into rookie Jerry Casale and veteran Tom Brewer and were rewarded when Casale responded with his first major league win in his first start and Brewer shut out the mighty Yankees on two hits. ("Both should have been weak as kittens," commented Trainer Jack Fadden.) While most of the big bats on the Williamsless Sox were quiet, Catcher Sammy White, who has been in a four-year slump, was hitting .381. The Baltimore Orioles straightened out after losing their first three games when the hit-less fielding whizzes Brooks Robinson and Ron Hansen were replaced by veterans Jim Finigan (9 hits in 17 AB) and Chico Carrasquel. The disappointing pitching staff, which was bombed for 25 runs in those first three games, looked a lot better after youngsters Milt Pappas (19), using a brand-new sharp-breaking curve to go with his sizzling fast ball, and Jerry Walker (20 ) pitched complete game wins. The Kansas City Athletics smacked a lot of home runs; the pitching and defense however were spotty. The new-look Washington Senators led the majors in stolen bases but were unable to take advantage of their newly found speed. Weak pitching and the horrible batting slump of Roy Sievers (only 3 hits in 23 ABs) were disastrous. The Detroit Tigers, in their worst start since 1952 when they finished last, lost six straight before finally winning. Ray Narleski, who was supposed to make such a big difference this year, lost three in relief, showed a 6.75 ERA. The staff gave up 12 homers in seven games, and the hitters left 62 men on base. "Maybe the team hasn't been told the season has opened," said exasperated Club President Harvey Hansen.
Standings: Clev 6-1, Chi 5-3, NY 4-3, Bost 4-3, Balt 4-4, KC 3-5, Wash 3-5, Det 1-6.
The Milwaukee Braves, who could do nothing wrong as they won their first four games of the season, finally lost one and the rest of the league breathed easier (see page 61). The explosive San Francisco Giants got good pitching and tremendous power hitting, but terrible fielding, especially around second base, nullified some of it. The Los Angeles Dodgers had a better than .500 record for the first time since leaving friendly Ebbets Field. Whip-armed Don Drysdale decided to pitch no differently in the unbalanced Coliseum than in any other park, and was rewarded with a shutout win. And the rejuvenated 36-year-old Art Fowler, whose new live fast ball has turned him into a valuable reliever, won one game and saved another. The Cincinnati Reds needed only five pitchers in their first four games, but then the bubble burst. In the following three games 12 not-so-stouthearted men trudged to the mound, and only some robust hitting salvaged one victory. When big Bob Anderson, the new ace of the Chicago Cubs, came down with the flu, it threw the team's young pitching staff out of whack. But long-ball hitting by the veterans Ernie Banks, Lee Walls and Dale Long managed to compensate somewhat for the floundering pitching. The Philadelphia Phils started off with anemic hitting and so-so pitching. Then they played the Reds and beat them two out of three, scoring 24 runs in the three games. The St. Louis Cardinals showed that their poor spring-training showing was no fluke. Power was conspicuously absent, and the pitching was weak. It was the Pittsburgh Pirates, though, who confounded everyone by losing their first five games, as hitting, pitching and fielding let them down with a thud into last place.
Standings: Mil 4-1, SF 6-3, LA 5-3, Cin 4-3, Chi 4-4, Phil 3-3, St L 2-7, Pitt 1-5.
Boxed statistics through Saturday, April 17
SURPRISE HITTERS were Indians' George Strickland, who led American League, and Tigers' Eddie Yost, who had three homers.