"Tony Oliva," said Oriole Manager Hank Bauer, "does everything well—run, catch, throw and hit." A shrug and a short pause later, Bauer added: "The bum!" Last week, as MINNESOTA (5-2) stretched its lead to five games by winning three of four from the second-place Orioles, Oliva went 11 for 30 and scored nine runs, including one on an 11th-inning dash from second base on a fielder's choice to beat Baltimore. During July, Oliva hit .394 (50 for 127, with 24 RBIs) to raise his average from .268 to .307. Sam Mele, Twin manager, claims: "As a hitter Tony is not too far behind Ted Williams. And he's a much better all-round player than Williams." Oliva plays despite a bone chip in the knuckle of the middle finger of his right hand. To protect the injury, Tony switched to a bottle-handled bat this year—and was hitting under the ball. "I was getting my pitch and missing it," admits Oliva. Then, on July 5, Tony borrowed a conventional knob-handled bat from teammate Jimmie Hall and started to hit like the Oliva who won the batting championship in 1964. "I'm just getting lucky," he says. The muscular Twins resorted to a suicide squeeze to beat the Orioles in one game, then won on Oliva's base running in the next. Said Reliever Al Worthington: "I don't see why we can't keep this up all year. We've already won a lot of games we had no business winning." Still, the Twins had problems. Pitcher Camilo Pascual went on the disabled list and was scheduled for an operation to remove a tumor from his back. BALTIMORE (3-3) remained in sight, thanks to Boog Powell's three-run homer which beat the Twins in the ninth. Some 2,000 fans greeted KANSAS CITY (4-4) when the Athletics returned from their most successful road trip—nine wins, nine losses—of the season. At one time last week the Athletics were one game from virtually vacating last place. They promptly lost three straight, though, and Owner Charlie Finley's Champagne Cellar-Bration was postponed—indefinitely. Joe Pepitone twice hit two home runs in one game to win for NEW YORK (4-4). The Yankees were shut out for the 10th and 11th times this season. CLEVELAND (4-3) Pitcher Jack Kralick could not throw a curve ball with his bad elbow but neglected to inform Manager Birdie Tebbetts. "I don't appreciate a guy doing that to his team," screamed Tebbetts as the Yankees teed off on Kralick's fast ball. "I try not to get desperate," said CHICAGO (3-4) Manager Al Lopez as he moved Catcher John Romano to left field. Romano hit two homers, had five RBIs and the White Sox won for the second time in 11 games. Pitching for the first time in 17 days, Joe Sparma of DETROIT (4-4) shut out New York, later remarked: "I'd like to pitch more often." Four days later he lasted only 3‚Öî innings. WASHINGTON'S (3-4) Frank Howard hit a 516-foot home run over the center-field fence in Kansas City, then confessed: "In all honesty, I have hit at least a dozen balls farther than that." BOSTON (3-5) and LOS ANGELES (3-3) players engaged in a free-swinging melee after several beanball incidents. Said Red Sox Manager Billy Herman, "Dean Chance has decked at least 20 of our players the last two years. The next time we see Chance, we'll knock him down four times, even if I have to bring in four pitchers to do it."
"We'll be in first place about 10:30 tonight," CINCINNATI'S (4-3) Frank Robinson announced last week before the second-place Reds began a three-game series in LOS ANGELES (4-2). Applying their customary magic, however, the Dodgers won two of three and remained in first place, even though Sandy Koufax lost his first game since May 26. Maury Wills beat the Reds one night when he walked, stole second and third and scored on Catcher Johnny Edwards' throwing error. The next night, informed that Manager Walt Alston and his coaches had been rehired through 1966, the Dodgers won 9-7 as Jim Gilliam, who started the season as a coach, homered, doubled and singled to drive in four runs. During the series, Robinson and Vada Pinson managed only three hits in 19 at bats. Moving to ST. LOUIS (3-3), the Dodgers won one game on a bases-loaded walk to Pinch Hitter Don LeJohn in the ninth inning. In another they got only three hits, including homers by Wes Parker and Jim Lefebvre, but Koufax pitched a five-hitter and drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly. Cincinnati's Deron Johnson had 12 RBIs for the week and led the majors with 87. The Cardinals' Lou Brock was "ready to trade myself in for a broken bat and 10 old gloves" before he beat L.A. with a two-run single in the ninth inning one night. During the week Brock was picked off twice in one game, once in another and also was out trying to stretch a single. Lead-off batter Felipe Alou gave MILWAUKEE (5-2) quick 1-0 leads with first-inning home runs in successive games. Willie Mays of SAN FRANCISCO (3-4) ended an 0-for-24 slump with his 24th home run. Warren Spahn lost a four-hitter—and a World Series ring in a hamburger joint. Bob Buhl of CHICAGO (5-4) won twice and Ron Santo hit three home runs. The Cubs also committed six errors in a 14-0 loss to NEW YORK (2-6). Mets Outfielder Johnny Lewis went 12 for 26, including two homers, and Pinch Hitter John Stephenson again beat PHILADELPHIA (5-2): this time with an 11th-inning double. Jim Bunning and Jack Baldschun combined to shut out PITTSBURGH (4-4) in 14 innings, 1-0. The next night the Phillies' Ray Culp, who won a two-hit shutout, and the Pirates' Bob Veale, Al McBean and Frank Carpin totaled 26 strikeouts in nine innings—a major league record. Don Schwall steadied the Pirates' bullpen, and Willie Stargell ended a slight slump with his first grand-slam home run. HOUSTON (1-6) Coach Clint Courtney and Outfielder Lee Maye exchanged punches at the batting cage and later in the dugout.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: TONY OLIVA