The Cleveland Indians continued to get help from unexpected sources. Gangling Rookie Jim Perry had been wild and unimpressive previously. Last week he threw his much-talked-about fast ball hard and accurately in two crucial relief appearances and saved both games. Mudcat Grant, who started late this year because of Army service, was throwing more curves and changeups than he used to and seemed to be in midseason form. The Chicago White Sox caught fire and bounded to an eight-game winning streak. With broad-backed National League Veteran Del Ennis playing like an eager rookie in left and Veteran Slugger Earl Torgeson a regular at first, the Sox hitting attack picked up considerably (from worst-hitting team in league to fourth-best in a week). With so many relievers coming through so splendidly (seven Sox wins were by relief pitchers), Manager Lopez took his best relief man, Bob Shaw, and made him a starter. Shaw, who gained pinpoint control by throwing overhand to all batters instead of sidearm to some, pitched a brilliant five-hit shutout, lowered his ERA to 0.82. The Baltimore Orioles have come up with one of the best relievers in the league in unpredictable, unwanted Billy Loes. With a new serious outlook to go with his old sore arm, Loes won his third game and saved his fourth, lowered his ERA to 1.29. The Washington Senators slowed down a bit, as was to be expected, but still got exciting home runs from Bob Allison (three) and Killer Killebrew (two in one game twice, for the fifth time in two weeks!). The Kansas City Athletics haven't been getting the home runs from Bob Cerv that they did last year (five so far in 1959, against a league-leading 11 at the same time in 1958). Cerv explains: "Last year I was getting the high fast ball. Now they are keeping it low. And they are trying to push me back. I've had more pitches thrown in tight to me than I had all last season." It should have been a grand and glorious week for the Boston Red Sox. The legendary Ted Williams was back in action, and all Boston's troubles were expected to disappear. But the 40-year-old Williams was a flop (one single in 20 ABs), the pitching staff fell completely apart and the Sox lost five straight. The New York Yankees (see page 20) used to knock pennant contenders off one by one as they paraded into Yankee Stadium. But last week, when the Indians and White Sox blew into New York, the sagging Yanks lost three more games. The Detroit Tigers settled down into their old losing habits. The original impetus New Manager Dykes gave them had worn off, as it always does. The team got a lot of hits (best batting average in league) but not many runs. If this sounds familiar, it is. That was the trouble under Old Manager Norman, too.
Standings: Clev 19-10, Chi 20-12, Balt 18-14, Wash 17-17, KC 14-16, Bost 13-17, NY 12-17, Det 10-20
The Milwaukee Braves, out to make quick work of the National League pennant race, threw Bob Buhl into the starting rotation. In two games he gave up a meager total of nine hits and one run and won both easily. His sore arm seems to be better. With Johnny Logan hitting again, the Brave's only weak spot is second base. Johnny O'Brien, the fourth man tried at the job, has plenty of hustle and pepper, but his hitting has been mediocre and his fielding just adequate. Manager Rigney shook up the San Francisco Giants' lineup to get more hitting. Slumping Slugger Orlando Cepeda was benched (swinging at too many bad balls), and Jackie Brandt moved to first. Hard-hitting, poor-fielding Leon Wagner came off the bench and went to left. In three games Wagner smashed three home runs. Cepeda got back in the lineup again, and in his first game drove in four runs with a homer and single. Ever since the Los Angeles Dodgers left chummy little Ebbets Field, home runs have been ruining the team. Last week the Dodgers smacked three, and the opposition bashed 12. Result: four losses in a row. The Cincinnati Reds won whenever they got good pitching (like Nuxhall's three-hit shutout), but it was still too infrequent to make the Reds any sort of a threat at this point. Vada Pinson, the fastest man in the league (clocked at 3.3 seconds going from the plate to first) continued to look like the best rookie around. The Chicago Cubs are the most consistent team in the majors. They have yet to win more than two in a row or lose more than two in a row. This is a pace calculated to keep a team at the .500 mark, which is just where the Cubs have been since the season started. The Pittsburgh Pirates kept on winning one-run games (nine of 15 wins by a single run) and inched slowly up toward the top half of the league. Diminutive Roy Pace, throwing a fast ball and fork ball ("It comes in about half speed, like a changeup. But I use the same motion as I do with the fast ball. If I can keep it low, it usually sinks"), won two more in relief (six in all, no defeats) and helped save two others. The St. Louis Cardinals got some hitting and pitching at the same time for a change and climbed out of last place. Manager Solly Hemus, who has had plenty of problems already, decided to solve one with a bit of psychology. He announced that Jim Brosnan, last year's ace reliever, was to be made a starter. "Maybe by starting Jim, I can build back his confidence," said Hemus. "It sounds odd to be starting someone who hasn't been getting anybody out all season, but it may work." The Philadelphia Phillies, with the worst pitching and hitting in the league, went on a six-game losing streak and found themselves just where they were last season—in the cellar. In two games against the Giants, the team could get but five hits, no runs. Things became so bad that last year's batting champ, Richie Ashburn, was benched for the first time since 1950. A puny .239 batting average did it.
Standings: Mil 19-10, SF 18-14, LA 18-16, Cin 16-15, Chi 18-17, Pitt 15-16, St L 12-20, Phil 11-19.
Boxed statistics through Saturday, May 16