Good pitching by Ray Sadecki, Bill Stafford, Don Schwall and Roland Sheldon has caused comment. Though all their names begin with S, the real point is that they are all youngsters between 20 and 24. Their performances (a joint 35-14 record) have stirred talk that the young pitchers arc dominating the game. However, a comparison of the 20 top pitchers (according to ERA) in both leagues for the past two seasons indicates that the oldtimers are more than holding their own. The average age of last year's top 20 in the AL was 28.2. This year it is up slightly to 28.5. Newcomers have made some inroads. Last year there were just four top pitchers between the ages of 20 and 25. This figure is now up to nine. In 1960 the average age for the 20 best in the NL was 27.2. It has climbed this year to 28.3. Here, too, there has been an increase (from seven to nine) in the number of pitchers under 26.
Don Drysdale bent over to tie his shoelaces, and for Los Angeles Manager Walt Alston that was the high point of a near-perfect week. Johnny Podres won twice, the Dodgers took six straight and moved into first place, but Drysdale's innocuous act had possibly more significance than any of these feats. Drysdale led the Phillies 2-0 in the fourth when he made a wild pitch that let in a run. Normally, he would have had a fit of pique and a fast shower. Instead, Drysdale leaned down, untied and then retied his laces. "Why pitch when you're mad?" Drysdale said, echoing advice he had scorned for years. Alvin Dark, San Francisco manager, also applied some psychology. He sent out Juan Marichal, who had failed to finish six consecutive starts, to face the Pirates and told him he would have to go all the way. Marichal looked at the empty Giant bullpen, realized that Dark meant it, struck out six of the first nine batters and won a five-hit shutout. Milwaukee needed its bullpen, got fine relief from Don McMahon and split eight games. Lou Burdette pitched a two-hitter, but Bob Buhl did even better, throwing a one-hitter and winning twice. Weak hitting (.193 and just eight extra-base hits) in the final five games stymied the Braves' drive, which still carried them past Pittsburgh and into fourth. One reason the Pirates fell was the ineffectiveness of the pitchers, particularly EIRoy Face, whose ERA soared from 2.57 to 3.69 in one week. Art Mahaffey's ERA also ballooned, and the Philadelphia Phillies were deeply concerned. On Memorial Day he was 6-3, but last week he became the losingest pitcher in the majors ashis record reached 7-14. It was an especially bad week for the Phillies, who lost six of seven, plus a 5-2 defeat by their Class A Williamsport farm team. Cincinnati, too, suffered an embarrassing loss. For the 11th time in 18 games the Reds lost to the Cubs. There were two major faults: only two double plays by the Reds and 12 homers by the opponents. In all, three of Chicago's four wins were by one run, and both the Cubs' losses were just as close. St. Louis, which has the worst record in one-run decisions (7-21), lost four games by this margin.
Boston's Pete Runnels was finally presented with the silver bat symbolic of the 1960 batting title that he won 9½ months earlier. The rest of the Red Sox, however, seemed to carry lead bats. They got enough runs for Don Schwall to win twice, but in between they batted .146 and lost four straight to Baltimore. Oriole pitching was superb, holding the opponents to a .172 BA and recording a 2.00 ERA in the final six games. Skinny Brown extended his scoreless inning string to 23 by shutting out New York, which got some good pitching of its own. In the last six games the Yankee pitchers had a 2.17 ERA and held their foes to a .209 BA. The Yankees swept four games from the White Sox, hitting 12 homers in the first three games. Roger Maris almost begged off from a double-header ("I felt washed out."), then went out and hit four home runs. Chicago Manager Al Lopez said, "I never saw so many balls go so far so fast." His own team had only two homers and lost five of six. Minnesota had just the opposite record. The Twins made their hits count and had three game-saving relief jobs by Ray Moore. Bob Allison, though batting .230, was a prime example of making each hit count. With his 78 hits he has 74 RBIs, and last week his pair of two-run homers beat the Tigers 4-3. Detroit had two other one-run losses and fell two games behind the Yankees. Cleveland also slipped farther back. In one game the Indians got 12 runs and 17 hits, but in their four losses they had just eight runs and 27 hits. Two of the Indians' defeats were to last-place Kansas City, which won three of its last five. This was quite an improvement after losing 22 of the previous 27. Jerry Walker, trying for a comeback at age 22, won for the first time in six weeks, and 40-year-old Gerry Stalcy won for the first time in 43 weeks. Dick Donovan, 33, won his seventh game for Washington, but the pitching that had been so strong earlier was going from bad to worse. Los Angeles was not exactly worrying the Yankees either, but the Angels did split six games, making them 16-10 for the month and putting them just one game out of sixth place.
Boxed statistics through Saturday, July 29
BUSY RELIEVERS were the Cubs' Barney Schultz, who got one win in three tries, and A's Gerry Staley, who pitched five times.