The Cleveland Indians, bedeviled by inconsistent batting, seemed to solve one problem. Tito Francona, playing with his fourth team in three years, replaced good-field no-hit Jimmy Piersall in center and in his first nine games batted .395, hit four home runs. The Chicago White Sox, desperate for someone who can belt a ball into the seats, tried fading slugger Harry Simpson. Well, old Suitcase showed 'em how by unlimbering a dramatic grand-slammer to win a big game from the Yanks. Rookie fast bailer Barry Latman, a big disappointment this spring, got another chance after some splendid relief work and pitched a strong five-hitter to win his first game. While everyone waited for the motley Baltimore Orioles to pack up and get out of the pennant race, the Orioles went quietly along winning more games than they lost. Last week was typical: they took two out of three from the first-place Indians and followed with a doubleheader sweep of the Tigers before dropping a couple when their pitching suddenly soured. The Detroit Tigers (see page 36) finally fell into a hitting slump and lost eight of 11 before snapping out of it. First basemen Harris (.160 BA) and Osborne (.212 BA) had been particularly impotent, so after bench-warmer Gus Zernial whacked his 10th major-league pinch-hit home run (ties the record), he was given a first baseman's glove. Big Gus responded with two homers, five RBIs his first day as a regular. The New York Yankees hit hard (17 home runs) but lost headway in the jammed-up pennant race. Ryne Duren, who started slowly this year, struck out eight of the nine men who faced him in one game and extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings. The Boston Red Sox were cheerful because the big guy was hitting again. Ted Williams came off the bench and belted three home runs, batted .333 for the week. "This warm weather helps," said Ted. The Washington Senators continued to find that all those home runs (Killebrew, Allison, Lemon homered in the same inning in one game, while Sievers just missed) won't make up for weak pitching and loose defense. The Kansas City Athletics hobbled wearily into the cellar (Roger Maris returned minus his appendix, but Bob Cerv, slumping, was benched by injuries). Poor pitching offset the best team batting average in the league.
Standings: Clev 39-30, Chi 39-32, Balt 38-34, Det 37-35, NY 36-35, Wash 32-39, Bost 31-39, KC 30-38.
The Milwaukee Braves clung to first place; their hitting slump seemed about over and the pitching started to straighten out. "Despite the fact we've been playing lousy ball lately," said Manager Haney, "we haven't lost any ground. We're bound to bust loose soon and get back in stride." Nonetheless, Fred was peering long and hard over his shoulder at the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won seven in a row and 12 out of 15 in their Coliseum home stand to burst dramatically into serious contention. For the second week in succession, the hard-throwing young Dodger pitchers looked like the best in the world. Most spectacular was 23-year-old Sandy Koufax. In one game he struck out 16 with his blazing fast ball and followed that with a shutout for his fifth straight win. Coupled with the youthful pitching was some hard hitting by a trio of veteran pennant-chasers. Gil Hodges at last showed the folks in LA how it used to be as he banged his average up over the .300 mark. Duke Snider, now a regular in right (with time out for occasional rest), hit with his oldtime power, and Third Baseman Jim Gilliam spanked singles all over the lot. The San Francisco Giants were Still hurt by spotty hitting and Willie Mays's long slump. Special batting practice and a new square stance that gets him closer to the plate helped a little, but he is still far from being the old Willie. Manager Murtaugh locked the clubhouse door one day last week and blasted the lackluster Pittsburgh Pirates for shoddy play. The only bright and shiny regular was Dick Stuart, of all people. Instead of swinging wildly as he used to, Stuart has learned to wait for the right pitch. He now leads the team in batting, home runs and RBIs. The Chicago Cubs, who have an even younger pitching staff than the Dodgers, continued to win one, lose one, depending upon the effectiveness of their erratic youngsters. The St. Louis Cardinals' hot spell ended as soon as they left Busch Stadium. Run production tailed off and, except for Rookie Ernie Broglio's brilliant two-hit shutout, the pitching was ragged. The disappointing Cincinnati Reds ran into more trouble. Before a game with the Cubs, someone told Frank Robinson he was batting .483 against Chicago pitching. "You don't have to tell me," said Frank. "I can tell by the way they're throwing so close to me." During the game a fast ball cracked his wrist and Robby was out of action for a few days. Roy McMillan was also out with injuries, and Frank Thomas was benched again for weak hitting. The feeble Philadelphia Phillies, who rank last in just about every statistic in the league, ripped off a quick six-game losing streak.
Standings: Mil 42-30, LA 43-33, SF 41-33, Pitt 38-37, Chi 36-36, StL 34-38, Cin 32-41, Phil 26-44.
Boxed statistics through Saturday, June 27
PRECOCIOUS PITCHERS Milt Pappas (left) and Jerry Walker, both 20 years of age, were big factors in the Orioles' success.