Each year the relief pitcher plays an increasing role in baseball. In 1951 starting pitchers finished their games more than one-third of the time: 36% in the NL, 39% in the AL. This season only one starting pitcher in four manages to finish what he begins. Relief work is both unusually long and quite short in this era of quick pitching changes. Last week each of 21 relievers pitched a scant one-third inning. Philadelphia's Chris Short, on the other hand, pitched seven and two-thirds innings to beat the Cardinals. Many relievers now toil day after day without a decision. Jack Baldschun of the Phillies has been in 49 games and has only a 4-3 record. Yet New York's Luis Arroyo, blessed with teammates who score in late innings, can boast of a 12-3 record. Arroyo won his 10th straight last week as he relieved for the 54th time. It is significant, with the season almost over, that the ERA leaders are Cincinnati's Jim Brosnan and San Francisco's Stu Miller in the NL, Arroyo and Chicago's Turk Lown in the AL.
Cincinnati fans, who felt bad at the start of the season because their Reds were the only team unable to win a pennant since 1940, were now effervescent. By winning three of four, the Reds and their rooters had reason for optimism, as well as a two-and-a-half-game lead over Los Angeles. Duke Snider had his toenails clipped by the trainer just before a game with the Cubs—which may or may not have had anything to do with his scoring the winning run. The Dodgers, looking alternately good and awful, could trace their failure to a .227 BA. If the Dodgers were up and down, the San Francisco Giants were in and out—of third place, that is. Their 23-day hold on third ended when they lost to Milwaukee 7-6 in 13 innings. Both managers, Alvin Dark of the Giants and Charley Dressen of the Braves, tried similar strategy. In a close game with the Cubs, Dark had slugging Ernie Banks intentionally walked to lead off the 10th. Dressen had Willie McCovey (.400 BA for the week) of the Giants put on with two out and a man on second in the 1lth to get to Willie Mays (.273). Both maneuvers worked. Still, Dressen was fired, and Birdie Tebbetts, the club's executive VP, took over as manager. Warren Spahn pitched his seventh straight complete-game win, giving him a 16-12 record. St. Louis, which was also struggling toward third place, played four one-run games in Philadelphia and lost two of them. Back home again, the Cardinals then won their 13th straight in Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh had trouble both at home and away. The Pirates won two, lost four and found that their title of World Champions scared no one, least of all Chicago's Bob Anderson. In successive relief appearances Anderson saved one game and won the next as the Cubs took three of seven. Philadelphia had the same record, thanks to Art MahalTey's second straight shutout and two homers by John Callison. In two games Mahaffey picked three runners off second base.
Mickey Mantle could have had momentary thoughts of slitting his throat after taking called third strikes three times against Camilo Pascual of the Twins. So the New York outfielder was the subject of some kidding when he appeared in the locker room with his neck streaked with blood after cutting himself while shaving. It was the Yankees, though, who drew much more important blood from Detroit (see page 14). Detroit's three best pitchers—Frank Lary, Don Mossi, and Jim Bunning—all lost during the week. Baltimore lost more than blood or games. Paul Richards resigned as manager to become GM of the Houston team that will play in the NL next year. This gave Ernest Mehl, sports editor of The Kansas City Star, freedom to reveal one of baseball's strangest trade talks: in 1956 Richards suggested to Athletic GM Parke Carroll that they swap the entire Baltimore roster for Kansas City's 25 men. Carroll said, "I can't." Luman Harris moved up from pitching coach to interim manager but despite three Oriole homers lost his first game. Chicago hit only three home runs all week, yet won five of seven and took a firm grip on fourth place. Cleveland, after losing nine of 10, got fine relief work from Frank Funk and Bob Allen, plus a shutout from Gary Bell, and won four in a row. Good relief pitching by Mike Fornieles and frequent hitting by Pete Runnels (.412) gave Boston three wins. Minnesota got some of its best pitching of the year. Pascual took pills for hemoglobin deficiency and low metabolism, was soothed by Catcher Earl Battey's words when he got in trouble, went on to shut out the Yankees. Los Angeles pitchers could not come close to a shutout but, though they gave up 59 runs, the Angels split eight games. Washington pitchers, once the best in the AL, continued to look like the worst. This, and no homers in eight games, was why the Senators' losing streak reached 14. Joe McClain finally ended it with a 5-1 win over the White Sox. With the Senators plummeting, Kansas City suddenly had visions of vacating the cellar. But it was a vision that blurred quickly. Despite Jerry Lumpe's .429 hitting, the Athletics dropped five of seven.
CLUTCH HITTERS were KC's Wayne Causey, whose ninth-inning hit beat LA, Braves' Sammy White, who doubled in 12th, defeating Phillies.