The white-hot Chicago White Sox zoomed into first place as they won seven out of 8, 18 out of 25. With an incredibly tight defense, strong pitching (best ERA in the league), speed and now good hitting (.310 BA the past month), the White Sox played as if they might not fold this time around. But a double-header loss to the Yankees cooled them off and the streaking Sox slipped back into second by a percentage point. The free and easy Cleveland Indians tightened up a bit against the Yankees (see page 31) and lost three in a row (two of them shutouts). Pitching was unsteady and hitting untimely. The defense faltered around second and Billy Martin won his job back. The Baltimore Orioles' lack of hitting and runs (lowest BA, fewest runs scored in majors) doesn't seem to mean a thing. The opposition can't score off the stingy Oriole pitchers. Last week, for example, the Orioles got 16 runs in seven games and allowed only 13. The New York Yankees still didn't move fast enough, despite the morale-boosting sweep of the Indians. Injuries to Skowron and then Kubek, plus a physically subpar Mantle, took most of the punch from the lineup. Indestructible old Yogi Berra, catching nearly every game, was the team's most consistent hitter (nine for 22). The Washington Senators took over fifth place and moved to within a game and a half of the first division on the steady pitching of Ramos, Pascual (he won his sixth and seventh in a row) and Fischer. Killebrew found it harder to hit home runs as he got fewer good pitches to swing at. The Detroit Tigers lost six straight for the second time in two weeks and Manager Dykes came to a familiar conclusion. "This club lacks poise," said Dykes. "Four or five times we have come up to the big game that could have set us up, and then lost it. Most of the players on this club really don't know what it's like to be in a pennant race. They aren't used-to playing them one day at a time, taking the big ones in stride with the little ones. There's more to this game than hitting the ball or throwing it." The Kansas City Athletics finally got some sound pitching (from both starters and relievers) to go along with the best team batting average in the league and won five out of seven games. Particularly outstanding was the work of Ray Herbert. He won two low-hit complete games. Ex-Yankee third base irregular Jerry Lumpe has solidified the Athletics' infield since becoming the regular second baseman. After the Boston Red Sox five-game sweep over the Yanks, Manager Jurges stated: "We're too good a team to have a big letdown. We'll lose some, but we'll be up there soon." The Sox immediately dropped four of their next five games.
Standings: Cleve 50-38, Chi 51-39, Balt 48-43, NY
46-45, Wash 43-47, Det 43-50, KC 40-49, Bost 40-50.
The San Francisco Giants lost three in a row and nearly dropped out of first. But three straight wins quickly nullified all of that and the Giants pushed their lead up to three games. As long as Jones and Antonelli remain healthy the Giants will stay in business. The two have won six of the team's last seven victories. The Los Angeles Dodgers cooled off considerably as their hitting attack fell apart. Some of the luster rubbed off the pitching staff, too, when Danny McDevitt was knocked out twice and Johnny Podres was blasted in his first start since his bad back acted up. The Milwaukee Braves woke up long enough to take two big ones from the Giants and then rolled over for the Cubs and Cards six times. Manager Haney got mad, juggled his lineup, changed his batting order. Nothing worked. "The way we've been playing," muttered Haney, "our toughest competition is ourselves. I'm not expecting miracles from the guys I'm putting in there. But maybe a few changes will shake them up a bit." The Pittsburgh Pirates suffered for want of a power hitter. Only two home runs were hit in a 10-game stretch, both by Dick Stuart. In losing three in a row, the team could manage only four extra base hits. The Chicago Cubs got right back up to the .500 level again by winning four straight. Hitting still left a lot to be desired, but the pitching seemed to have straightened out. Cub pitchers threw three complete games in a row for the first time in three seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals would be in trouble if it weren't for the strong bullpen work of Lindy McDaniel. A flop as a starter early in the season, Lindy became a valuable reliever when he switched from a sidearm to an overhand delivery of his fast ball. Last week he won his sixth and seventh games in relief. The revived Cincinnati Reds slammed the ball hard and piled up 40 runs in winning five out of seven. A changed stance made Frank Robinson the hottest hitter in the league the past four weeks (.476 BA, 27 RBIs). "I quit crouching so much at the plate," said Robby, "and I started standing deeper in the box. Now I'm seeing the ball better and I'm not trying to pull everything." The Philadelphia Phillies also showed lots of life as the team got exceptional pitching and better defense, for a change. Phillie pitchers came up with five straight complete games and the team won four of them.
Standings: SF 52-39. LA 51-43, Mil 46-41, Pitt 48-43, Chi 45-45, StL 44-46, Cin 40-50, Phil 35-54.
Boxed statistics through Saturday, July 18
REDS RODE high on slugging of Frank Robinson and Gus Bell. The two combined for 22 hits, six home runs, 20 RBIs.