A new kind of excitement has hit those calm old Birds, the Baltimore Orioles. "The next month is going to be fun," said the calmest and oldest, Brooks Robinson. "For once, we're in a pennant race, and I'm really looking forward to it. I honestly think we'll win it." Even more confident is cocky, young Bird Rich Coggins, a rookie just called up from the minors. After hitting doubles in his first two major league at bats and helping the Orioles to two of their three wins, he proudly proclaimed, "I can hit anyone."
The Tigers were not so proud. They lost four straight and foundered into a second-place tie with the Yankees. Back-to-back shutouts by Fritz Peterson and Mel Stottlemyre brought New York abreast of Detroit. It was Stottlemyre's first win since Aug. 13 and his first complete game since July 21. "We have to have him if we're going to do it," said Manager Ralph Honk of the righthander's comeback. "You know what I'm afraid of?" Pitcher Peterson added. "We're going to get hot, and so is everybody else."
Boston's Luis Tiant is already hot enough. Tiant, who has scored only 17 wins in the past three seasons, had won five straight by midweek, the last three shutouts. Said Manager Eddie Kasko, whose Sox compiled a 4-1 record, "He has been out of this world." Much more in this world is Cleveland Manager Ken Aspromonte, who announced after his team suffered its fifth straight defeat, "Realistically, our best hope is for third or fourth place." Milwaukee's George Scott, an involved man, was pasted with a realistic $500 fine after he gestured imaginatively at a fan in the box seats as the Brewers suffered through a 0-5 week. "From now on," said Scott, missing the point, "I'm just going to keep my mouth shut."
BALT 68-57 DET 67-59 NY 67-59 BOS 65-58 CLEV 58-67 MIL 50-75
The A's, rolling up five wins, recaptured the league lead from the White Sox and acquired ex-Cardinals Matty Alou and Dal Maxvill for the pennant drive. But no one in Oakland seemed to care. Only 5,200 fans turned out to watch former Bay Area favorite Gaylord Perry pitch against them early in the week and only 7,200 attended a Friday night game with pennant-contending Detroit.
The White Sox have no attendance problems at home, but they had an empty week on the road, losing three in a row and four of five. The team batting average for the trip was .149, well below the Sox' already meager road average of .207. For the Sox at least, there is no place like home.
Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici believes in a different maxim: practice makes perfect. After eight straight Twin losses, he called for a morning workout. The team defeated Baltimore 7-1 that night. The next day—normally a day off—he called for another practice session and the Twins promptly won their next two games.
Another disciple of hard work is the Royals' Bruce Dal Canton, who started the first game of a doubleheader and then offered to pitch in relief in the nightcap. The extra effort drew special praise from Manager Bob Lemon, whose kind words for Dal Canton were taken as an implied slight by another Kansas City starter, Dick Drago. He said peevishly, "I'm not the kind to say I wouldn't pitch if they needed me."
The Angels' Nolan Ryan, who pitched one game with only two days' rest, works almost as hard as he throws. After Ryan shut out the Tigers with his fastball, Detroit's Duke Sims said, "It sounded like a fastball, but I sure didn't see what he threw me." Texas Ranger fans do not have much to see now that Frank Howard is gone. Rumors have it that Manager Ted Williams will be the next to go.
OAK 74-51 CHI 71-53 MINN 62-60 KC 60-64 CAL 57-67 TEX 49-77
Willie Stargell hit homers three days in succession, helping the Pirates put together a four-game win streak. The string kept Pittsburgh a comfortable 11 games ahead of the Cubs, who themselves had won 10 of their last 14. Chasing the Pirates is frustrating and futile; before their recent streak, the Cubs were, well, 11 games behind.
It is hard to recognize the Cardinals these days. The moves that sent Alou and Maxvill to the A's brought to five the deals with Oakland this season. Seventeen players from the spring training roster of 41 have been dealt away.
The Mets, who have had about that many in the hospital at one time or another, were getting healthier, if not better. While New York was losing three of five, Rusty Staub was placed on the active list again. He can hit, but he still cannot throw.
Possibly Montreal's Ron Woods missed his calling. Television is obviously his medium. In a televised game last week, he hit a homer. The previous time the Expos were on camera, he batted in six runs. "Woods is a TV ham," said Manager Gene Mauch.
The Phillies' Ken Reynolds finally won a game after 12 defeats. He stopped the Braves 11-1 in the first game of a doubleheader, thereby failing to break the team record for consecutive losses.
PITT 78-46 CHI 68-58 NY 63-59 ST.L 61-64 MONT 57-66 PHIL 45-80
Pete Rose broke the Cincinnati team record for career base hits (1,881) with an eight-for-16 spurt. By season's end Rose should have at least 1,920 hits, a figure exceeded only by Paul Waner, Stan Musial and Al Simmons for players in their first 10 major league seasons. Rose's goal is 3,000.
Houston's Larry Dierker, a pitcher with a history of arm trouble, has his own theory about work. After winning his 14th, as Durocher's Astros took five of five to close within seven games of the Reds, he said, "We have a month to go, and I figure, 'What the hell, if I hurt my arm now, I'll have the whole winter to get over it.' "
Dodger Manager Walter Alston will also need a winter to get over the way his team is playing. After Willie Davis popped up swinging at a three-and-nothing pitch, Alston called a clubhouse meeting. "I'll accept losses," he fumed, "but when an individual puts his average ahead of the team, something has to be said."
Atlanta's Denny McLain has a lot to say, and much of it will be in his forthcoming book. "If some guy is pro or con in my life," said Denny, "he's in there." Added Teammate Mike McQueen after examining the manuscript, "This book will make Jim Bouton's look like a bunt." The working title is, appropriately enough, Nobody's Perfect.
Juan Marichal certainly is not, particularly after this season, which has been the sorriest in his otherwise distinguished career. In his last start, he gave up six hits and four runs in 2‚Öî innings for his 15th loss. San Diego Catcher Pat Corrales knows one way to avoid pain. In a fist-swinging brawl with the Cubs, he had the presence of mind to keep his mask on. More painful was the three-day suspension he drew for his part in the fight.
CIN 79-46 HOUS 73-54 LA 67-58 ATL 58-70 SF 56-70 SD 46-79