This was the week CHICAGO (1-7) was supposed to make its move. And move the Cubs did—downward. While Manager Leo Durocher was having his contract extended through 1969, Chicago dropped three of four games to the Cardinals and then absorbed three straight defeats. Ferguson Jenkins, the Cubs' most dependable pitcher, dropped a 2-1 decision to the Braves. Chicago runners died on the bases as the Cubs' run production slowed to a trickle—17 in eight games. After Durocher's team lost a doubleheader to the Cardinals in midweek, veteran Ernie Banks quipped, "Even the best of the world's finest jet airplanes run into some turbulence here and there. We'll fight back." Meanwhile ST. LOUIS (6-1) was taking every advantage of the Cubs' slide. After that productive series in Chicago, the Cardinals returned home to take three games from the Reds. Lou Brock shed a batting slump, knocking out 23 hits in 52 at bats, and Curt Flood's bat continued to boom. By the end of the week St. Louis had its biggest lead of the season—8½ games. SAN FRANCISCO (6-0) moved into second place behind the Cardinals, taking three games from the Mets. Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry turned in complete games, and Willie Mays, after five weeks without a home run, contributed to their wins with career homers 556 and 557. ATLANTA (5-2) Manager Billy Hitchcock held a clubhouse meeting ("The guys that want to hustle will play; the others will sit"), and the Braves opened their series against the Cubs with a showy display of power hitting—seven home runs, including two each by Clete Boyer and Joe Torre. CINCINNATI (2-4) took two games from the Braves before running into St. Louis. Pitcher Jim Maloney produced a 2-0, three-hit shutout of the Braves, his 100th major league win but only the second time in 18 starts this season that he's gone the distance. PHILADELPHIA (6-0) climbed over the .500 mark for the first time in five weeks as Tony Gonzalez' batting average soared into the .330s. Life in PITTSBURGH (2-4) was not rosy for Danny Murtaugh, the Pirates' interim manager. Pitcher Pete Mikkelsen yielded five home runs and 15 runs in all in eight relief innings and was sold to the Cubs. Fork-baller ElRoy Face gave up winning runs in two straight appearances, LOS ANGELES (1-5) continued to have hitting troubles. "We can't even bunt runs home," said Manager Walter Alston. HOUSTON (2-4) collected two wins at the expense of NEW YORK (1-5), though the Mets stopped the Astros' seven-game winning streak.
Standings: StL 67-41, SF 59-50, Chi 59-51, Atl 56-49, Cin 57-53, Phil 53-51, Pitt 51-54, LA 47-59, Hou 47-63, NY 40-65
While the American League race continued in earnest with CHICAGO (2-3) still leading the chase. General Manager Ed Short of the White Sox dropped a novel idea in the lap of League President Joe Cronin. After his team was rained out of two straight games with the Orioles, the White Sox executive asked Cronin about the possibility of a twi-night doubleheader in Baltimore on Monday. Only hitch was the Orioles already had a game scheduled with the Indians. Short suggested that they make it a three-team twi-nighter—with the Orioles meeting the White Sox in the first game and the Indians in the second. Cronin, following a week of interleague meetings in Chicago, would have none of it and consigned the precedent-breaking plan to the scrap pile. The White Sox took two games from the Indians—one with a six-run ninth inning—before the rains came, BOSTON (3-5), a little overwhelmed at the thought of nearing first place, staggered its way through the week like a man with a hangover. The Red Sox, who had already lost the season series to the Twins, opened the week at home with a 4-0 win over MINNESOTA (4-2) before splitting four games with the Athletics. Then the Twins beat Boston three times in Minnesota and gained second place as Dick Williams' league-leading hitters collected a grand total of one run and eight hits. Minnesota Pitcher Dean Chance hurled a 2-0 perfect game—that is, a five-inning, rain-shortened version. Asked afterward if he was disappointed it had rained, Chance said, "No. I was glad. All I wanted was the win." Chance's first no-hitter as a professional (he pitched 18 in high school) kept Minnesota ahead of CALIFORNIA (2-3). Ex-Oriole Woodie Held continued to spark the Angels as he doubled home three runs in a 5-4 victory over WASHINGTON (3-2). The Senators came back to beat the Angels the next day as Cap Peterson slammed a three-run homer. DETROIT (4-4) entered August as close to first place (four games behind) as it had been in six years. The Tigers proceeded to take three of four games from the Orioles before dropping three to Cleveland. CLEVELAND (4-3) and BALTIMORE (3-3) continued to jockey for seventh place. The Baltimore ground crew failed for the second time in two weeks to get the tarpaulin farther than the edge of the infield grass. Meanwhile KANSAS CITY (5-3) and NEW YORK (2-4) squared off at the end of the week to decide which would stay in the cellar. The A's captured the first two games, and the Yankees slid into 10th place momentarily.
Standings: Chi 59-45, Minn 57-48, Bos 58-49, Det 57-49, Cal 57-52, Wash 54-55, Clev 50-58, Balt 48-57, NY 46-59, KC 48-62
The trade in the stretch—it's become the stamp of the true pennant contender over the years. The manager surveys the bullpen or glances down the dugout and decides that an experienced hitter or pitcher—perhaps several years beyond his prime—might be just the thing needed to propel his championship-seeking team past the opposition and into the World Series. The Chicago Cubs pulled off one of the first such deals in 1945 when $100,000 brought Hank Borowy, then the New York Yankees' best pitcher, to the Windy City for the final two months of the season. Borowy collected 11 wins, and the Cubs made the World Series. During the days of Casey Stengel, the Yankees made such deals a yearly practice as Johnny Sain, John Mize and Jim Konstanty, among others, joined the Bombers for the late-season World Series Express. Stengel's successor, Ralph Houk, pirated Pitcher Pedro Ramos away from Cleveland on waivers, and Ramos paved the way for a Yankee pennant in 1964. This season the front-runners in the American League race have been practicing the art. Though Eddie Stanky's White Sox were leading the American League, Stanky and his general manager, Ed Short, decided something was missing. Next thing anyone knew, Short had Ken Boyer, 36, and Rocky Colavito, 34, in Chicago for the stretch drive. The second place Red Sox got in the act last week and pried veteran Catcher Elston Howard, 38, (right) away from the Yankees. "We're looking for experienced players for the pennant drive," said Red Sox Manager Dick Williams. Then, almost as an afterthought, he noted, "Just as the White Sox are."