It was springtime in the majors, time for Biblical rains and inverted standings. Nowhere was the scene more topsy-turvy or clamorous than in MONTREAL, where some 300,000 people lined the streets to welcome the club home. Reciprocating, the Expos made the celebration last all week by remaining baseball's only unbeaten team. After three ex-Mets, Ken Singleton, Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen, had helped win the first three games, including one over NEW YORK, Jim Fairey drove home the winning runs in the fourth and fifth. "They're having a lot of fun," said Manager Gene Mauch, "but I don't know what the fuss is about. We won eight in a row last year and nobody got very excited." All over, baseball players were turning on their ex-masters. PHILADELPHIA'S Steve Carlton shut out the Cardinals, who had traded him, on three hits. Teammate Joe Hoerner, another ex-Cardinal scarcely concealing his mirth, said: "That is the last team in the world Steve would like to shut out." New York's Tom Seaver won his t√™te-√†-t√™te with CHICAGO'S no-hit rookie Burt Hooton on a couple of weak run-producing singles by Bud Harrelson and Ken Boswell. It was Seaver's second win in two starts. The 1-6 beginning by ST. LOUIS was its worst in more than 25 years. For the second year in a row the Cubs dropped their first series at PITTSBURGH'S Three Rivers Stadium after a Milt Pappas win in the opener. The Pirates could do no wrong even when they did wrong. Gene Clines failed to touch first, nullifying a game-tying double against the Phillies, but Gene Alley doubled Manny Sanguillen home in the ninth and Vic Davalillo won the game with a 10th-inning homer.
MONT 5-0 PITT 4-2 NY 2-2 PHIL 3-3 CHI 2-4 ST. L 1-6
While LOS ANGELES and Willie Davis were vandalizing the division (page 18), ATLANTA pitchers were providing another barrage—for the opposition. In eight games they allowed 40 runs. Henry Aaron started the season by going 1 for 22 and Orlando Cepeda, a battered knee aching, was contemplating retirement. "I am serious," he said. "The pain and the needles are getting to be too much. I don't want to go through more pain and I don't want people to feel sorry for me." Atlanta's hitters finally broke loose when Aaron, Rico Carty and Oscar Brown hit one homer apiece and Earl Williams two as the Braves beat CINCINNATI 11-7. The Reds trailed only the Dodgers in team batting, but their power men—Johnny Bench and Tony Perez—had only five hits between them in six games. SAN DIEGO'S John Jeter ran into the Giants' Willie McCovey, breaking McCovey's right arm. "I feel like I killed Santa Claus," Jeter said. The next night he broke Juan Marichal, beating him with a two-run homer in the ninth. With McCovey out up to three months, SAN FRANCISCO was dependent more than ever on its youth movement. Twenty-three-year-old Dave Kingman, appropriately named at 6'6", moved from third to McCovey's first-base position. Fran Healy, 25, became the catcher when Dick Dietz, a good hitter but the passed-ball champion of the world, was waived and claimed by Los Angeles. And Don Carrithers, 22, became the fourth starter. Then HOUSTON came to town, held Kingman and Healy hitless and beat Carrithers 6-0. It was the Astros' fifth straight win. Left-fielder Bob Watson, for one, was not hurt by the strike. "In 1969," he said, "I started the season 0 for 11 and in 1970 I was 0 for 8. Last year I started off 0 for 15. So by not playing those first nine games, I won't be taking all those oh-fors this year." Instead, he was hitting .304.
LA 7-1 HOUS 5-2 SF 4-4 SD 3-5 CIN 2-4 ATL 2-7
As the Tiger arrived in Baltimore, Norm Cash boasted, "If we beat 'em three straight we may never be behind again all year." Joe Coleman promptly pitched DETROIT to a 5-3 win. But the next day Boog Powell's somnolent bat awakened to double home the winning run in a 5-2 Oriole victory, and then the Orioles beat the Tigers 1-0 on Paul Blair's homer. Cash clammed up. Detroit Manager Billy Martin, who hadn't had a good fight since he knocked out Dave Boswell in 1969, tangled with a fan in the Baltimore parking lot. He turned out to be a Tiger fan. NEW YORK'S "Grand Design of the Spring"—taking five or six of the eight scheduled April games with Baltimore—collapsed when five were canceled by the strike, one was rained out and two were lost. Yankee Third Baseman Rich McKinney had four errors in one game, tying a league record, as BOSTON scored nine unearned runs and won 11-7. Sonny Siebert managed two wins for the punchless (.219) Red Sox. CLEVELAND Manager Ken Aspromonte let himself go talking about Buddy Bell, son of the former National League star Gus: "He reminds me of a young Mickey Mantle. He's a player with charisma and unlimited potential." Aspromonte could be excused. His rookie outfielder had just hit a grand-slam home run to help beat Baltimore 9-2 and the Indians were flying, for them, at .500. MILWAUKEE, though, was having trouble getting off the ground. In rainy, 40° weather Saturday the Brewers were no-hit for six innings and beaten by Detroit's Coleman 8-2 in their delayed home opener.
BALT 5-2 DET 3-2 BOST 3-3 CLEV 3-3 NY 2-4 MIL 1-3
Maybe pitchers were ahead of hitters, but no one was ahead of one ex-pitcher. Bobby Darwin, a 29-year-old rookie who labored for eight of his 10 minor league seasons as a pitcher, moved into the MINNESOTA outfield and homered three times, OAKLAND was doing O.K. without Vida Blue. Denny McLain, last year's biggest loser, pitched 7‚Öì innings without allowing an earned run and Ken Holtzman issued no walks in 17 innings. CHICAGO'S Dick Allen, playing on his fourth team in four years, hit safely in his first five games and the White Sox spoke of him as a team leader. After a fan handed KANSAS CITY Manager Bob Lemon an Eisenhower dollar as a good-luck piece, the Royals opened with three wins. Lemon hung onto the dollar but they then lost five straight. CALIFORNIA had little to cheer except the news that Nolan Ryan defeated the Twins on four hits 1-0.
OAK 4-1 CHI 4-3 MINN 2-2 TEX 3-3 KC 3-5 CAL 2-4