When Manager Sparky Anderson last saw Dan Driessen play for the Reds' Indianapolis farm team, he told him, "You're too ugly to be a movie star. You'll have to be a baseball star." To which Driessen responded, "Yeah, but ain't I cute when I'm hitting?" After 47 games at Indy, in which he had 47 RBIs, hit .409 and was on base 100 times, Driessen joined the Reds. He looked downright handsome as he highlighted a seven-run ninth with a walk and a double to overcome the Cubs 8-4. Johnny Bench had the game-winning hit that day, just as he had earlier in the week when his three-run 10th-inning homer put down the Mets 6-5. Also contributing mightily as the Reds won four of five and took over third place was Tony Perez, who boomed out four homers and had 12 RBIs.
There was Dave Roberts with a 6-3 record and a 2.52 ERA, the best marks on the starting Houston staff. There was Manager Leo Durocher pulling Roberts from the starting rotation and giving the ball to Don Wilson, recently recovered from a broken hand. There was Wilson losing to the Pirates while Durocher hinted that Roberts might be shuttled to the bullpen. "I wouldn't be happy there," said the understandably bewildered Roberts, who earlier in the week had shut out the Phillies.
It was also difficult to comprehend the Giants, who despite their need for pitchers (they gave up 12 walks in one game last week) sold Sam McDowell to the Yankees. For the seventh time in eight tries, Juan Marichal failed to go the route. And the Giants, after four straight wins, were twice drubbed by the rampaging Expos.
San Diego's lone win in six tries came when Ivan Murrell homered in the ninth to defeat the Cardinals 4-3. Willie Davis of the Dodgers chucked his 31-ounce bat, began using a 34-ouncer and homered in three successive games. But the rest of the club lacked punch and the best the Dodgers could do was to split six games.
Eddie Mathews, the Braves' skipper, had breakfast with Chuck Tanner, his counterpart on the White Sox. As a result, Mathews decided that his knuckleballer—Phil Niekro—would go on the Wilbur Wood diet of pitching every third day. Niekro, who had only three wins all year, promptly won twice in four days. And Henry Aaron came two home runs nearer the number.
SF 38-22 LA 34-23 CIN 31-24 HOUS 32-27 ATL 22-33 SD 20-38
Over the fence is double—at least when the umpire says it is. And that's just what happened to Phillie Pitcher Ken Brett. Giant Centerfielder Garry Maddox, believing Brett's drive had cleared the Candlestick fence on the fly, was puzzled when Ump Dick Stello halted Brett at second. Maddox conferred with Rightfielder Bobby Bonds. "Bonds told me the umpire called it a double and to keep my mouth shut," Maddox said. Stello, among others, thought the ball had skipped over on one bounce, which would have made it a ground-rule double. The Giants won that game 5-4, but Brett was not to be denied. His next time out he hit another ball over the fence, was credited with a homer, raised his batting average to .318, beat the Padres 4-1 and cut his ERA to 2.90. Wayne Twitchell, who teammate Jim Lonborg insists has the best fastball in the league, blazed his way past the Astros 4-0 and brought his ERA down to 2.15.
Tim McCarver singled in the 10th to beat the Astros 2-1 and Jose Cruz tripled across two runs to finish off the Padres 5-3 as the Cardinals won three in a row. That made them 16 for 18, a pace that carried the Cardinals from last place to second. But then St. Louis lost three in a row and clunked into fourth place.
Steve Blass, runner-up for last year's Cy Young Award, was bludgeoned again and his ERA soared to 8.21. Pittsburgh lost five of six and had to share second place with Montreal, which won four and lost two. Powering the Expos were Ken Singleton, Ron Fairly, Ron Hunt and Mike Jorgensen. Singleton had four RBIs in each of two games, and Fairly finished the Braves 7-6 with an 11th-inning homer. Hunt scored five times and Jorgensen drove in four runs as the Expos set a team record by temporarily making midgets of the Giants 17-3.
There were two loud cracks in New York. One was Willie Mays hitting his first home run of the season and 655th of his career. The other came when Shortstop Bud Harrelson broke his hand. The Mets are being injured as fast as a battalion of jaywalkers crossing Times Square at high noon. At the next draft the club might bypass players and sign up two surgeons, three bone specialists, a nurse and some stretcher-bearers.
After blowing a game to the Reds, Cub Manager Whitey Lockman said, "It makes you aware that adversity may be a part of life." Still, his troubles were naught compared with those of the crippled Mets. After all, Lockman's team led the East by 5½ games and at least part of that cushion could be attributed to some of Lockman's managerial manipulations. With the Cubs trailing the Reds 5-4 in the seventh and with a man on first and none out, it was a logical spot for Lockman to order a sacrifice. But with Rick Monday, a left-handed batter, facing Tom Hall, a left-handed pitcher, Lockman called his hitter aside. Whitey reasoned that Hall would be throwing fastballs to make it hard for Monday to lay down a soft bunt. "Go ripping," Lockman told his man. Rip the ball Monday did, slamming the anticipated fast ball into the bleachers for a 6-5 win.
CHI 33-23 MONT 24-25 PITT 24-25 STL 24-28 NY 23-27 PHIL 22-32
It was a Christmas-in-June week for the Yankees, who got two gift-wrapped pitchers from the National League, a thoughtful bag of debris from K.C. and—for the first time since April 19, 1967—sole possession of first place. Pat Dobson came over from the Braves, Sam McDowell from the Giants. Manager Ralph Houk received a bag of dirt and pebbles from Kansas City GM Cedric Tallis, who knew that the Yankee manager, while playing in Royals Stadium with its wall-to-wall ersatz greenery, would otherwise be unable to indulge in his habitual sifting of earthy materials. While Houk sifted, his Yankees accepted more gifts from the Royals—five ninth-inning walks—and won 6-4. That win went to Dobson, who pitched five scoreless innings in relief. Sparky Lyle also pitched superbly in relief, yielding just three hits in 6‚Öî innings as he saved five games. But the Yankees were not only takers, they were givers, too. Shortstop Gene Michael had a present for Vic Harris of the Rangers: one well-hidden baseball, with which he tagged him out to terminate a Texas uprising.
Reliever John Hiller of the Tigers earned his 11th save with 3‚Öì innings of one-hit work against the Angels. He was even more gratified, however, by another save he made earlier that day when he dived into a hotel pool and rescued a 5-year-old boy. Willie Horton slugged three home runs and Mickey Lolich had two wins, yet the Tigers were 3-3 for the week and toppled to second place.
A vote of confidence was given Indian Manager Ken Aspromonte by GM Phil Seghi after the club had lost its eighth consecutive contest. "I'm trying to tell them [the players] to keep their chins up," Aspromonte said. Chins up, the Indians took the field against the Chicago White Sox and were knocked out 6-3.
Although Carlton Fisk had driven in eight runs in the two previous games, Boston Manager Eddie Kasko felt it was time to give him a day off. So he let Bob Montgomery catch Bill Lee the next day. Lee was one strike away from a 4-2 win over the Royals but then served up four balls to Paul Schaal and a homer to Jim Wohlford. In the bottom of the 10th, though, Montgomery proved he was an able replacement for Fisk by hitting his second home run of the afternoon at Fenway for a 5-4 win. Carl Yastrzemski rapped out his 2,000th hit to help the Red Sox build a 4-2 week.
Milwaukee bumped Boston from fourth place by winning five of six as Jerry Bell and Jim Colborn each won twice. Bell stymied both the White Sox and Angels with three-hitters and Colborn, who allowed only nine hits, blanked the A's and Angels to improve his record to 7-2 and lower his ERA to 1.82. Don Money's home run in the ninth brought a 5-4 win over the A's, and Ollie Brown's over-the-fence smash was good for a 1-0 victory over the Angels.
Earl Williams hit his first homer since April 22, Boog Powell his first since April 27 and Brooks Robinson his first since May 1 as Baltimore took four of six and climbed over the .500 plateau. Augmenting their power at bat, the Orioles showed speed of foot. They stole 11 bases, giving them 54 in 71 attempts and putting them within easy reach of last season's total of 78 and their alltime high of 97 a decade ago.
NY 30-25 DET 29-25 BALT 25-24 MIL 26-27 BOS 25-26 CLEV 20-34
"What I'm looking for and am determined to get is consistency from my pitchers," said Ranger Manager Whitey Herzog. His pitchers were certainly consistent last week; they gave up lots of hits and runs almost daily. Herzog, though, was pleased with Don Stanhouse, who blanked the Yankees for 8‚Öì innings in relief for his first win as the Rangers fought from five runs down to take the game 7-5.
While Oakland (page 20) lingered in fifth place, Kansas City struggled to stay ahead of the A's. After squeezing by the Indians 5-4 with a three-run ninth climaxed by Amos Otis' two-out, two-run hit, the Royals lost five in a row. Bringing about the sudden downfall was out-of-sight pitching that yielded nine homers, 41 runs and 33 walks.
Bill Singer of the Angels won his 10th game, beating Detroit 7-4, and Nolan Ryan pulled the Tigers' tail 3-0. But the Angels were winless in four other outings.
When Twin Pitcher Bert Blyleven was not stilling opposing batters he was fiddling with a handkerchief placed at the front of the mound. What kind of hanky-panky was this? Pitching Coach Al Worthington explained: "The idea was for him to pitch and follow through, picking up the handkerchief after releasing the ball." That, plus other repair work on the faulty delivery he had fallen into earlier this season, has enabled Blyleven to win five of his past six games. Last week he stopped the Orioles 2-0 on two singles, slicing his earned run average during those six starts to 1.00.
For the White Sox it was a so-so, 3-3 week. Wilbur Wood lost for the fifth time, won for the 14th. Things could have been worse but for some fortuitous happenings during one wacky inning in which the Orioles had a triple, single, stolen base, two walks and the benefit of an error—and failed to score. The Orioles led off that inning with a triple. One out later came a grounder to third base on which the runner at third was thrown out at home. A steal and an overthrow on the play put another Bird on third. Two walks loaded the bases. The final batter's grounder hit the runner going to second, resulting in an automatic single and out. It all helped Chicago to win 3-2 and to end a five-game losing streak.
CHI 30-20 MINN 29-22 CAL 27-25 KC 30-28 OAK 28-28 TEX 18-33