With five victories in six games, the Cincinnati Reds threatened to make a mockery of their division race and a fibber out of Manager Sparky Anderson. The Reds picked up 3½ games on second-place Houston and dashed seven games ahead in the standings, even though just two weeks earlier Anderson had predicted that the race could not be cracked open. But by finishing the week with two come-from-behind victories over Pittsburgh, the Reds had won 10 of their last 11 and were rapidly sailing out of reach.
It is not often that a manager can claim he ruined a no-hitter, but Don Zimmer of the Padres, who enjoyed a rare winning (3-2) week, admitted he had done just that. Unfortunately, it was being pitched by a member of his own staff. San Diego's Steve Arlin, a former Phillie bonus baby, left the Philadelphia batters looking like Little Leaguers until two were out in the ninth. Then .250-hitter Denny Doyle bounced a single over drawn-in Third Baseman Dave Roberts for the Phillies' first hit of the game. Even though Arlin had two strikes on Doyle, Zimmer had Roberts playing shallow for a possible bunt by the fleet Phillie second baseman. "He wanted to move back to a normal position, but I wouldn't let him," said Zimmer.
The slumping Atlanta Braves sagged one game farther under .500, and the smoke signals indicated that Manager Luman Harris may soon be tomahawked. The Brave management was not saying yes, but it was not saying no, either. The best bet for the new Brave chief: First Base Coach Eddie Mathews, who was the first person to shake Henry Aaron's hand after The Hammer hit his 659th career homer during the week.
The Dodgers enjoyed a mild surge with five wins in six games, due mainly to a super surge by Wes Parker. The Los Angeles first baseman has driven in 18 runs in his last 21 games. Houston lost five of seven and San Francisco had little to cheer in a 3-2 week except Willie Mays—the slugging Met.
CIN 55-32 HOUS 50-41 LA 47-41 ATL 41-49 SF 40-52 SD 33-54
Trying to get some punch into their lineup, the last-place Phillies played two regular centerfielders at once. Bill Robinson started in left and Willie Montanez in center. The move produced some crunch—and not only at the plate. In the 10th inning against San Diego, Robinson and Montanez, both accustomed to roaming freely, had a jolting collision while chasing a fly ball. Bruised feelings were overcome the next inning when Robinson doubled home the winning run in the Phillies' first win in five games last week.
Expansion teams usually need years to build a "traditional" rivalry, but the Montreal Expos already have a dandy feud going. Conveniently enough, it is with another expansion team, the San Diego Padres. A banner 60 feet long hung from the left-field stands in San Diego Stadium when the Expos arrived there last Friday. It read, MONTREAL'S MOTTO: IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, BEAN 'EM. The reference was to a series earlier in the season when Montreal pitchers hit Padre batters on successive nights. "We can only take so much," Don Zimmer warned the visitors. Apparently Zimmer's players had already decided they had had too much. In the second game of the series, Expo Pitcher Carl Morton's batting helmet was rattled with a pitch by San Diego reliever Gary Ross, and several furious Montreal players spilled onto the field before calm could be restored.
Bob Gibson continued his streaking recovery from a season-opening 0-5 slump by winning his 11th game in a row for the Cardinals (3-4 for the week). Gibson admits he is taking aim on the major league season record of 19 consecutive victories held jointly by Rube Marquard and Tim Keefe.
Billy Williams of the Cubs was another star on a streak. Williams has 28 hits in his last 52 at bats and has raised his season's average to .344, third best in the league. But not much else is hot for Chicago as the Cubs posted a 3-3 record.
Pittsburgh increased its division lead over New York to 4½ games, despite two more losses to Cincinnati. The Reds' victories ran their mastery over the Pirates to five straight games. New York received a particularly sweet game-winning home run from Willie Mays during his first appearance in San Francisco since he was traded on May 11. However, the injury-riddled Mets could pick up only one other victory for the week.
PITT 54-33 NY 49-37 ST. L 45-42 CHI 46-43 MONT 38-47 PHIL 30-57
Not a team in the division could escape the midsummer blahs. Each had a losing week, and the losses provoked plenty of grumbling. Even the Oakland A's (page 14), comfortably leading the division by seven games, turned churlish after losing five of nine.
Kansas City Royal President Ewing Kauffman, who owns a successful pharmaceutical business, found it a bitter pill to swallow as he watched his club make mental mistakes which yielded four runs—and a victory—to Baltimore. After the game, Kauffman rushed to the Kansas City dressing room to treat his players to a verbal prescription. He reminded them that their careers are relatively short—and could become even shorter if they continued to fail to use their heads on the field. Kauffman's dose was slow to act. The Royals committed two more errors and lost their next game before finally trimming the Orioles 8-5.
Another owner, Bob Short of the Texas Rangers, took a look at his team's last-place standing and called a press conference. He said his goal this year is "to draw more fans than we drew in Washington in my first year as owner there just to show the Washington press corps that we aren't bush leaguers for moving the franchise." Then Short admitted that he would not object to selling the club to local ownership for the right price.
Minnesota's new manager, Frank Quilici, has not begun grumbling yet, perhaps because he was too stunned after the Twins lost five straight.
Anemic hitting left Chicago far behind Oakland as Walt Williams went 0 for 24, Mike Andrews 3 for 46, Carlos May 5 for 34, Jay Johnstone 4 for 28 and Ed Herrmann 1 for 28. But the Angels were even worse. California scored only seven runs in nine games and lost seven times.
OAK 55-35 CHI 47-41 MINN 43-42 KC 44-44 CAL 39-52 TEX 36-53
The reviving Red Sox ran off seven straight victories and eight in nine games. Second Baseman Doug Griffin hustled home from first base on a 14th-inning infield error to score the winning run in the grittiest victory of the streak. Even when the Red Sox consecutive-win string was temporarily halted by the A's, there was cause for celebration. Carl Yastrzemski hit his first home run since September of last year. He had made 306 trips to the plate without one.
Division-leading Detroit remained five games ahead of third-place Boston and two up on Baltimore with six wins in seven games. Mickey Lolich won his 16th and 17th games and also completed his 17th game, both tops in the majors.
New York and Baltimore were doing some heavy hitting and won five games apiece. The Orioles got 10 hits or more in four straight games, and Boog Powell continued his resurgence at the plate despite missing several batting practices with a sore shoulder. "The way he is hitting," says Manager Weaver, "it would be O.K. with me if he never took it again."
The Yankees flexed their muscles like the Bombers of old and hit at least one home run in six straight games before being shut out by California in the first game of a doubleheader. But New York was not cooled off for long. In the nightcap, the Yanks cracked three more homers.
Cleveland Shortstop Frank Duffy has never looked better. Since switching from contact lenses to glasses a few weeks ago, he has rapped out 12 hits in 34 at bats. But the Indians still looked awful, losing 3 of 5. Milwaukee fell to its 50th loss in unique fashion. Twin Pitcher Ray Corbin was hit on the fingers while attempting a squeeze bunt that was fouled off with the bases loaded. After being denied first base because the umpire ruled he had stepped into the pitch, Corbin left the game with a sore hand. Charlie Manuel replaced him at the plate and drove in the deciding two runs with a single, the low light of a 4-4 Brewer week.
DET 51-36 BALT 49-38 BOST 45-40 NY 42-42 CLEV 36-49 MIL 35-50