Even baseball's finest players have had difficulty maintaining top-level performances from one year to the next. At this time last season there were a dozen .300 hitters in the AL. Just two, Roy Sievers and Jim Gentile, are again hitting .300. Whitey Ford, Jim Bunning and Don Mossi are the only pitchers to keep their ERAs below 3.50 in both years. And Frank Lary, 10-10 in August 1960 and 15-6 now, is the lone pitcher so far to win 10 or more both times. Three of the NL's seven .300 batters last year are in that category now. They are Willie Mays, Bill White and Roberto Clemente. Four pitchers have ERAs under 3.50: Mike McCormick, Johnny Podres, ElRoy Face and Ray Sadecki. Of the 13 pitchers who last August had 10 or more wins, just four—Bob Purkey, Bob Friend, Warren Spahn and Lou Burdette—are again in this group.
It was not easy to do, but Bubba Morton of Detroit stepped on teammate Dick McAuliffe's head. Morton, not realizing his pop fly had been caught by Twins pitcher Jack Kralick, sped for first base and was unable to avoid McAuliffe, who tried in vain to beat a double play by sliding headlong back to the bag. If McAuliffe, who got a broken nose, felt bad, Cleveland Manager Jimmie Dykes felt worse. At least the Tigers won four of six. The Indians lost five of six. They hit four homers in one game and lost. Then they hit three and lost again. Next it was two—and another loss. Finally, with just one home run, they beat Chicago, which moved to within one and a half games of the Indians. Luis Aparicio hit two homers in two days after getting 17 in 847 previous games. This gave him three for the year, but left him 97 games behind Babe Ruth's schedule. New York's Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had one homer each but stayed more than a dozen games ahead of Ruth's pace. In all, the Yankees, who had 32 home runs in 14 earlier games, got just five in 10 tries. Los Angeles hit five in one day, then only three in its other six games and won three of seven. The team doctor advised that Reliever Art Fowler, 38, be rested more. Fowler, who pitched in 17 of 26 games, agreed. Manager Bill Rigney, however, heard only the staccato of Boston bats and used Fowler in both ends of a double-header. Fowler pitched only one and two-thirds innings, gave up six runs and, after not losing in six weeks, suffered two defeats. Boston's Bill Monbouquette also lost twice, but around those defeats were some timely late-inning hits and five wins. Miserable hitting led to four straight Minnesota losses and a drop from seventh to ninth. Jim Kaat pitched well against Baltimore until, trying to throw out a runner trapped between bases, he threw the ball all the way to the center-field wall. "It proved," Kaat said, "I still had plenty of stuff on the ball." Baltimore pitchers, too, had plenty on the ball, holding the opposition to 15 runs in eight games. Oriole batters, though, got only 22 runs, and the team lost three times. Washington had much the same trouble but still won twice and took over seventh. Kansas City stayed put. Not even good pitching by Norm Bass and Bob Shaw could bring the Athletics within six games of ninth place.
The students and faculty of baseball's "finishing school"—better known as the bullpen—were shaken to their sweat socks. For the second week in a row San Francisco Manager AI Dark's experiment (no bullpen at all) got fine results. Juan Marichal, Mike McCormick and Jack Sanford, Dark's three best starters, were told they would get no relief. Before Dark's edict these pitchers had just 13 complete games in 54 starts. Since then, five of their six tries (Sanford was replaced in the 10th inning once) have resulted in complete games and four wins. Johnny Keane, St. Louis manager, used much the same theory, and Larry Jackson, who finished just two of 11 previous starts, has had four complete games in six attempts and four wins. Heavy hitting by Joe Cunningham (.563) enabled the Cardinals to win four of six. Pittsburgh, despite Roberto Clemente's .545 BA, had a 2-3 record for the week and fell to sixth place. Philadelphia rose to first place—in double plays. Ruben Amaro, a ubiquitous and almost flawless shortstop, was the prime reason. Still, the Phillies lost six more, making it 12 of 13. Three of the losses were to Cincinnati. The Reds kept Leo Cardenas (.500) at shortstop, won five of seven and took the lead from Los Angeles. Larry Sherry pitched five and a third innings of one-hit relief for one of the Dodgers' three victories. Milwaukee had little need of relief pitching, getting five complete-game wins in seven starts. Warren Spahn won twice and poised himself for the one remaining triumph needed to reach the 300 mark. Hank Aaron singled to win one game and hit two homers as Spahn won his 299th game 2-1. Chicago's George Altman got two home runs to beat the Dodgers 4-2 and tied a team record, set in 1884, of at least one homer by the Cubs in each of 14 consecutive games. Nevertheless, Head Coach El Tappe fretted about the use of 169 relief pitchers in 104 games. Al Dark may have another convert shortly.
Boxed statistics through Saturday, August 5
LIVELY OLDTIMERS were the Braves' Frank Thomas (.500 BA, three HRs, seven RBIs) and Red Sox' Vic Wertz (.417 BA, six RBIs).