Ah, yes, Willie Mays. After he hit a home run to win New York's 11th straight game those old Met-haters, the Chicago Cubs, came along and smacked them twice, 2-1 and 5-1. Joy in Chicago was diluted by the fact that, next game. Mays hit a single in the 14th inning to win 3-2. With a batting order whose averages ranged from Willie Stargell's .282 to Rennie Stennett's .391, the Pittsburgh Pirates ran their winning streak to nine before losing to St. Louis. The defeat ended a five-game streak for Pitcher Dock Ellis, but it came only hours after the Pirates had won in 14 innings the night before, and with Stargell, Manny Sanguillen and Roberto Clemente on the bench.
Although they had almost an entire infield injured—second, third and short, plus catcher—and Leftfielder Billy Williams playing first base, the Cubs lost only one game all week. Besides Ferguson Jenkins' and Burt Hooton's handcuff jobs on the Mets (aided in the latter case by Jose Cardenal's two homers and Williams' second of the week), Bill Hands muffled St. Louis 3-2 and the 30-year-old rookie, Carmen Fanzone, got three RBIs in a 5-3 game against Montreal.
"They're playing their heads off," Gene Mauch said of his Expos. "That's the best lineup we have. I'll just leave them in there." Sure enough, Montreal—which had lost eight games at New York and Pittsburgh—won all three against Philadelphia at friendlier Jarry Park. Ron Fairly's three-run homer won the opener on Victoria Day, another Fairly homer broke a tie the next day, and then Carl Morton had a one-hitter, throwing exactly 90 pitches.
"They have to do it themselves with the arms and bats on the field," Phillie Manager Frank Lucchesi said sorrowfully. "My
4% contribution is not enough. But I'll take suggestions from anyone, even the press." Five regulars slipped below .215 as Philadelphia lost its 10th straight game.
St. Louis spoiled a homecoming for Manager Yogi Berra by beating Tom Seaver and the Mets 6-2, as Joe Torre hit a home run and a double.
NY 26-10 PITT 21-13 CHI 18-16 MONT 16-20 PHIL 15-20 ST. L 14-23
The Houston Astros (page 28) won their sixth straight game by defeating second-place Los Angeles 5-3 Friday before 36,328, the Astrodome's largest crowd in four years.
The Dodgers' Walt Alston has often replaced 32-year-old Golden Glove First Baseman Wes Parker with 22-year-old Bill Buckner, 29-year-old hot-hitting Second Baseman Jim Lefebvre with Bobby Valentine. 22, master Shortstop Maury Wills, 39, with Bill Russell, 23, and gets help from 23-year-old Steve Garvey. Result: Valentine is hitting .328, Russell .333, Garvey .265 and Buckner .250. "There's no doubt that fellows like Wills are going to make fewer mental errors." Alston says, "but those kids are going to get to balls the others won't." Nevertheless Los Angeles lost three of four.
Cincinnati punctured San Diego's youth corps, taking two of three, including a Gary Nolan 4-0 shutout over the Padres' Fred Norman, who had pitched 27 scoreless innings. But the Reds were embarrassed twice by Atlanta, 2-1 and 4-2.
Those wins, plus two more during the week, may have saved Atlanta Manager Luman Harris' job. Coach Eddie Mathews had been all but hired as his replacement, at least by the Atlanta Constitution. Then the Braves beat San Francisco and Cincy, for Jim Nash's first victors (in relief) and Phil Niekro's sixth (he also hit a home run), and Harris was still tilling out the lineup cards, defended valiantly by Paul Richards. "Fire me, not Luman," Richards said stoutly.
After losing six of seven games, San Diego Manager Don Zimmer was getting second-guessed from 2,000 miles away—by his father. "Dud" Zimmer called up and wanted to know why his son hadn't had Nate Colbert bunt in a home series against Cincinnati. "I can imagine what it'll be like when we get to Cincinnati and he's sitting behind the dugout," Zimmer said.
In a .500 week for San Francisco, Pitcher Sam McDowell continued to win and unlucky Steve Stone finally beat the Dodgers 1-0 to improve his record to 1-4.
HOUS 24-12 LA 21-16 CIN 19-17 ATL 15-20 SD 15-23 SF 13-27
Although Cleveland held onto first place despite four losses, there was worry in the wigwam over the Indians' failure to hit. The Tribe was averaging fewer than three rims a game. Against lefties they were 3-9 and were averaging .217. "We aren't even hitting the ball hard," Manager Ken Aspromonte growled. "If" I can't gel base hits, I expect at least a threat up there."
Detroit managed to lose two of three games to Milwaukee, both on shutouts, but Mickey Lolich—now 8-2—did blank Cleveland 5-0 and the Tigers did administer some stripes to the Yankees, 8-2.
Baltimore played the Pirates in a so-called "eighth game of the World Series"—an exhibition at Washington and won, but that was the week's main consolation. "We've even forgotten how to walk," Manager Earl Weaver sighed. In a 12-game road tour, Oriole regulars had a .205 batting average. They lost two of three to Boston, due in part to a triple play. "A triple-play isn't an omen, it's a catastrophe," Weaver said.
One Red Sox win was authored by the controversial tradee, Marty Pattin—his first victor) after five losses and a 6.61 earned run average. "You can always make a lot of alibis why you're not doing well, but I always felt that when you're down you just have to work harder," Pattin said after stopping the Orioles with a four-hitter.
The New York Yankees won four of six on generally excellent pitching. Fritz Peterson finally got his first two wins, heating Boston 6-3 and Cleveland 2-0. And it was a satisfying week for the Brewers. They beat the Atlanta Braves in an exhibition involving Milwaukee's once and present baseball teams and won two of three in Detroit, a City in which they had never won more than one game in a season. Both victories were shutouts, pitched by roommates Jim Lonborg and Skip Lockwood.
CLEV 18-13 DET 18-14 BALT 17-15 NY 14-17 BOST 12-18 MIL 10-19
As the Pale Hose hurried on, Minnesota resorted to old White Sox tactics. The Twins had one homer during the week and only eight in 17 games. But Rod Carew broke up a scoreless war with Kansas City in the 12th inning with a single, then bunted home Cesar Tovar with a tie-breaker the next night on a safety squeeze. The third night the Twins displayed inspired scratchiness by winning on three safe bunts, a tag-up advance from first to second after a pop foul behind home plate, and a strikeout on a wild pitch that enabled the hitter to reach first base. That Jim Kaat and Bert Blyleven pitched shutouts helped a little, too.
"I had problems with Leo Durocher in Chicago." Pitcher Ken Holtzman said succinctly after Oakland pulled off the great theft of the 1972 trading season by getting him. Holtzman had no problem disposing of the White Sox 4-2 to keep the A's in hot contention and advance his own record to 7-2. "His fastball behaves like Vida Blue's best." said Catcher Dave Duncan.
After Texas swept a Minnesota double-header to reach .500 (.667 at home), team members were shouting in the showers. Break up the Rangers," they yelled. "Call us the Alamo Mets." I hen the White Sox came to town and fragmented them good, winning three straight. What really broke Texas up was the first loss. Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the 10th, with one out, Ranger pinch hitter Don Mincher singled, advancing Toby Harrah to third. Chicago villain Chuck Tanner protested that Mincher had batted out of order. Mincher was out and the rally was over.
Dick Drago got a Kansas City team record for strikeouts (13) but no win as Minnesota beat him 10. In a 10-game home stand the Royals averaged 14 men on base, stranding seven of them per game.
Lynn Noland Ryan Jr., the fastest arm in the West, awed Oakland as the Angels beat them 6-3. "He scared the hell out of me, even in spring training when he wasn't ready," said Leftfielder Joe Rudi. The A's Reggie Jackson demurred. "I'm not scared," he said, "but he sure makes me uncomfortable."
CHI 21-11 MINN 20-11 OAK 20-11 TEX 15-20 KC 13-20 CAL 13-22
DICK ALLEN LIGHTS UP CHICAGO'S SOUTH SIDE—AND HIS OWN PHIZ—WITH A BIG BAT