The cleanup man is a big brute who hits 30 home runs a year, strikes out 100 times and is placed hopefully on the field at a position where batted balls are least likely to confuse him. All right, quick—who bats cleanup for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Nowadays, the answer is Bill Mazeroski, who is 5-feet-11, 180 pounds. He hits a dozen homers a year, seldom strikes out and is forever being honored as the best-fielding second baseman that there is. Perhaps the only major league second baseman to regularly bat fourth since Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson, Mazeroski was hitting ahead of only the pitcher a year ago; this season he was again far down the lineup until Manager Danny Murtaugh spotted him cleanup on May 17. Mazeroski has responded in hybrid fashion. He won one game last week with a little old single and hit .424. But, more like a cleanup man, he blasted two home runs (he is third on the team) and drove in seven runs to become the leading RBI man in the Pirates powerpuff attack.
It was, appropriately for Athletic Director Colonel Robert Whitlow, the anniversary of D-day—June 6—when his Cubbies finally got back to first place. It had been five years since the last time, and the visit was to be only for a day, but for a team that hadn't even finished in the first division since double-breasted suits went out, it was a gala respite. Cautious Chicagoans even decided they could finally stop judging the '63 Cubs only with reference to the '62 Cubs—a practice usually reserved for rainfall and traffic accidents—and acknowledged that it was time to start comparing the '63 Cubs to the '63 Dodgers and Giants. Billy Williams (.433, 9 RBIs for the week) and Ron Santo (.313, 5 RBIs) continued to pace the attack although there was plenty of help. Even Relief Pitcher Lindy McDaniel hit a home run to win his own game, and slumping Ernie Banks finally began to pick up, with a .400 BA and two HRs. The Cubs still need a reliable fourth starter and a reliable first catcher and first center fielder, but it has been a lot of Junes since the sunny confines of Wrigley Field ever looked sunnier or more crowded—thousands of fans in the stands and sometimes even two contenders a day on the field.
From the very first day Juan Pizarro threw a major league pitch, observers have been oohing and aahing. "Potentially great," cried the Braves when they had him. "Potentially great,' cried the White Sox when they got him. Pizarro agreed. "What else do you need?" he was asked. "Nothing," he replied. Such confidence was gratifying, but the sad fact was that Pizarro proved to be a press agent's bust: not bad, but that's not great—which is what everyone expected of him. This week, however, Pizarro looked like baseball's answer to everything. Hitting, pitching—you name it, Pizarro supplied it. The limber left hander threw his "screwie" and fast ball at Red Sox batters so effectively only four of them got hits, and none could score. He also chipped in with two hits, one a two-run double. At Kansas City, Pizarro finally gave up a run but easily won his fifth game, partly because he struck out 10 A's and partly because he drove in two more runs with a home run and a single.
"We've got to have one hitter to go along with Al Kaline," said Detroit Manager Bob Scheffing. "That's our situation in a nutshell." Shucks, that's anyone's situation in a nutshell. Scheffing has had to settle for Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash. Until last week, however, neither of the two sluggers had given Kaline—or Scheffing—much help. First Scheffing benched Colavito (it was the first time in 458 games, and Rocky said: "I didn't like it"). But Colavito came back and started hitting—two home runs and one squibbler that won a game. Cash also hit a couple into the seats, and suddenly the Tigers don't look like dead ducks any more. Tiger fans, 38,282 of 'em, came out Friday night with a season's accumulation of unused trash ready to shower on the field, hoping their Tigers would ungallantly kick the hurt Yankees right in the teeth. The Tigers did just that. And when Pitcher Hank Aguirre hit a double, down came the joyful mess. An even bigger crowd came out the next night, and Don Mossi, who is acting like Frank Lary used to, beat the Yankees for the third time this season. "No," said Kaline contemplating his second homer in two nights, "I don't think we're out of this thing yet."