The trouble with openers, they put so much pressure on the social set. "Have you ever made martinis and cucumber sandwiches at 8 a.m.?" asked one SAN FRANCISCO matron, packing the hamper for the gala at Candlestick. But the Giants (5-1) made Opening Week a roaring success with Juan Marichal and Bob Bolin each winning twice. Catcher Tom Haller, who usually does his hitting in September, went off on a .382 tear and drove in a mess of runs. And Willie Mays made everything perfect by hitting career home runs No. 506 and 507. ATLANTA (1-4) had more pressing problems. Mayor Ivan Allen invited 1,400 to attend the big pre-opening game bash at the Marriott Hotel, which had room for 1,200. But that was all laughs compared to what was to come. Tony Cloninger pitched masterfully against the Pirates for 13 innings except for one pitch. Pow! and 50,671 citizens who came to find out what major league baseball was all about left muttering. Relief pitching was supposed to be the ruin of PHILADELPHIA (4-1), but Roger Craig won two games in three days, and rookie Darold Knowles pitched six good innings of relief to win another. The goals that the Pirates' Willie Stargell has set for himself and which are pasted in his batting helmet include 40 home runs this year. No. 1 came in the 13th inning against the Braves, and the Pirates had their first win. No. 2 came the next night, and PITTSBURGH (4-1) was off and winging. "People who write about spring training not being necessary," said Sandy Koufax, "have never tried to throw a baseball." The best pitcher in baseball was battered for five runs in three innings in his first start and lasted only six innings in his second. But the third man in the LOS ANGELES (4-2) theme, Claude Osteen, won twice and wanted to know if Koufax and Drysdale would consider a three-way parley next year. Before General Manager Buzzie Bavasi could choke on that one, Jim Lefebvre stunned everyone by hitting four home runs (below). Behold the NEW YORK Mets (2-1). It takes some beholding. The Mets lost the opener, as usual, but the next day against the Braves, Ed Kranepool hit one out with a man on, Jack Hamilton threw a five-hitter, and for the first time ever the Mets had as many wins as losses. Next day Ron Swoboda walked with the score tied and the bases loaded in the ninth inning and, great Scott, the Mets were over .500! Rain, sore throats, sour relief pitching—CINCINNATI (1-2) had it all during the opening week, but Vada Pinson went six for eight, and Jim Maloney, who never could beat the Phillies in their own ball park, shut them out on five hits and struck out 13 while he was about it. HOUSTON (2-4) got five runs off Sandy Koufax, but all they had to show for it in the ninth was an even-up ball game. Enter Rusty Staub. He made the effort worthwhile with a run-scoring single and won another game the next night with a two-run homer. After losing the first two games of the season at home by a single run, the ST. LOUIS Cardinals (1-4) were still not ready to proclaim panic week. They flew into Pittsburgh and beat the Pirates in Forbes Field for the 18th straight time (tying a major league record). The streak ended the next day, and maybe a bit of panic did set in on Sunday when St. Louis lost again. Leo Durocher's stomach hurt (page 26) and his disposition was rotten and for good reason. His CHICAGO Cubs lost five of six.
Standings: SF 5-1, Phil 4-1, Pitt 4-1, LA 4-2, NY 2-1, Cin 1-2, Hou 2-4, Atl 1-4, StL 1-4, Chi 1-5
Hank Aguirre was scheduled to pitch the sixth game of the season for DETROIT (5-1) but he was not too certain about it. "They're not going to let me pitch until they're sure they can't win them all." Aguirre said. But Aguirre did pitch the sixth game and, sure enough, the Tigers aren't going to win them all. Al Kaline hit a fat .364 during the week, raced to all areas of right field to catch drives, stole a base and finally gave his sore left foot the ultimate trial by kicking the water cooler in the dugout after an infrequent pop-up. When Dick McAuliffe hit a grand slam in the Tigers' home opener, out popped a sign from the very spot the ball landed saying: PENNANT FEVER. Leon Wagner of CLEVELAND (4-0) said, "Our fast cats, they just run over the other team." Jim Landis, the defensive whiz, helped win the opener for Sam McDowell against the Senators with a pinch double, then singled in a run in the 10th inning to win the third game. The firm of Robinson and Robinson—Brooks and Frank—kept BALTIMORE (4-1) in business with six home runs and 13 RBIs, and Jim Palmer apparently answered the question of who is going to be the Orioles' fourth starter by beating the Red Sox 8-1. Meanwhile Luis Aparicio had the needle out for Curt Blefary, who had started slowly. "You get my vote for comeback-of-the-year," said Luis, "next year." With that Blefary went 3 for 4 and hit a home run. "I think we'll just stick with the kids for a while," said CALIFORNIA (3-1) Manager Bill Rigney. Those kids, known fondly around Disneyland as Zok and Pow—Jack Warner and Rick Reichardt in case you're keeping score—ripped out 10 hits for the Angels last week. Reichardt hit a homer that beat the Twins, and Warner batted in winning runs against both the Twins and the White Sox. CHICAGO (3-1) Manager Eddie Stanky was the picture of wit and serenity. When the Sox beat the Athletics on three hits, four errors, a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk, he quipped: "Raw power." The White Sox stole six bases in a single game against the Athletics—two by Pete Ward, which matches his total for all of last season. It was just like old times at the opener for MINNESOTA (3-2). "I can go one more inning," is what Jim Grant told Manager Sam Mele in the ninth inning of the tie game with the Athletics. "You won't have to," said Mele. "We'll win it this inning." So be it. Sandy Valdespino singled home Zoilo Versalles, and that was that. With Tony Oliva hitting four home runs, the Twins had three in the win column right off. Then everyone stopped hitting and it was like old old times. KANSAS CITY (0-4) had four legitimate runs batted in for the week. Catfish Hunter gave up only three earned runs in 17 innings—which was encouraging—but four runs bat-led in.... Sure, that trim defense was supposed to take some oomph out of the BOSTON (0-5) attack, but were 33 Red Sox batters supposed to strike out in two days? Five strikeouts one day belonged to rookie George Scott. "It was the baddest day I ever had," said George. As for that defense, the Red Sox made 13 errors, NEW YORK (1-5) was stymied by a combination of puny hitting (.202), nine errors and injuries to Shortstop Ruben Amaro (torn knee ligaments) and Second Baseman Bobby Richardson (spike wound in his left ankle). Frank Howard hit two home runs and a double for WASHINGTON (1-3) but there was really nothing to cheer about until Sunday, when the Senators cooled off the raging Tigers on a grand slam homer by Bob Chance.
Standings: Clev 4-0, Det 5-1, Balt 4-1, Cal 3-1, Chi 3-1, Minn 3-2, Wash 1-3, NY 1-5, Bos 0-5, KC 0-5
DODGERS' JIM LEFEBVRE
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nothing inspires less awe than a Los Angeles Dodger with a bat in his hand. Not only are the fences far away in Dodger Stadium, but the air is heavy and even the best-hit balls have a sound of well-ripened fruit being swatted with a mallet. And the Dodgers do not have anyone who can hit with power, anyway. But James Kenneth Lefebvre, a slight young man who plays third base for the Dodgers, has suddenly become a bona fide menace as a batter. Lefebvre is a switch hitter, but has had trouble batting left-handed. This spring Duke Snider spotted him swinging away with his right leg locked securely in place. "Bend it, baby," said the Duke. Lefebvre did, and the good thing ended for right-handed pitchers. The Lefebvre barrage started when Lefebvre, hitting left-handed, walloped a home run off the Astros' Larry Dierker on Wednesday. On Thursday, Bob Bruce was having the time of his life with everyone in the Dodger line-up—except Lefebvre, who, batting lefty again, hit two more home runs. "I don't want to brag," said Jim, "but I didn't get good wood on that last one." Then Manager Walter Alston began to worry. "I hope Jim doesn't start overswinging and missing contact with the ball," he said. The next day, with the Dodgers losing to the Cubs 2-1, lefty Lefebvre tore into Ted Abernathy's curve ball and hit a three-run, game-winning home run. After returning to the bench he said to Alston: "Look, Skip, I made contact."