The Atlanta Braves had a player other than Henry Aaron to lionize last week as Third Baseman Darrell Evans led a surge of five straight wins over St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Batting ahead of Aaron, Evans reached base 17 times in one series of 18 at bats. His only failure was a sacrifice fly that scored a run. "The biggest help to me," said Evans, "was having Henry hit behind me. They have to pitch to me." He might have mentioned also the advantage of having a professional softball player for a mother. As for Bad Henry, he hit three out to trail Ruth by only 23.
San Francisco stayed near the top of the division thanks to Pitcher Ron Bryant's assorted talismans. With his teddy bear in its proper place on the bench and a piece of bubble gum for every anticipated victory filling his hip pocket, Bryant extended his personal winning streak to eight games by defeating New York 2-1 and Philadelphia 4-3. But the other Giant pitchers faltered, including Juan Marichal, who hasn't had a complete game in his last four starts.
Los Angeles kept pace with the leaders, thanks in part to Pinch Hitter Steve Garvey, whose bases-loaded triple beat Philadelphia 8-6. "Unless you win a game with one hit," said Garvey after doing just that, "it's hard to feel part of the club. I don't want to become known as a 24-year-old pinch hitter."
Bob Watson's versatility rescued Houston. On Wednesday night his two run-scoring singles helped trim Chicago 6-1. On Thursday night, after moving from left field to behind the plate when Catcher John Edwards went out of the lineup with viral hepatitis, he beat St. Louis with a home run, 3-2. "I'm going to hit wherever I play," he said.
Cincinnati (page 24) lost five of six but San Diego continued to be the class of baseball's cellar dwellers. The Padres lost their eighth straight, 10-2 to New York. "I'm dangling from a noose, gasping for breath," said Manager Don Zimmer. "I'm going bananas." Yes, but will he be going East when the franchise moves to Washington at the end of the season?
SF 40-26 LA 38-25 HOUS 35-30 CIN 32-29 ATL 27-35 SD 20-44
The recent success of the Montreal Expos, whose winning streak reached seven games last week, should not be so surprising, according to Manager Gene Mauch. "When good things start to happen, you begin to expect more good things," he said. The philosophy no doubt explains the triple play and Mike Jorgensen's three-run homer that beat San Diego 3-2, Steve Renko's six-hitter against the Padres in a 5-3 triumph, and the eighth-inning homer by Bob Bailey that tripped Los Angeles 4-3. Jorgensen's lively bat was a long time coming. "The one good thing about hitting .196," said Mauch, "is you know it won't last."
The same theory might also apply to Chicago's series-winning effort in Houston, the Cubs' first in almost four years. It was especially sweet coming as it did with Leo Durocher in the Astro dugout. When he was at Chicago, Leo used to complain that it was impossible for his Cubs to win in the Astrodome. Chicago remained consistent in at least one respect. By defeating Atlanta 4-3 on Jim Hickman's home run the Cubs followed a loss with a win for the 11th-straight time.
Joe Torre was back in contention for the National League batting lead after a nine-game stretch in which he went 15 for 32 and raised his average from .313 to .343. St. Louis also had a superlative pitching effort from Rick Wise, who lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning of an 8-0 win over Cincinnati. Joe Morgan was the culprit—or maybe it was Wise himself—since Morgan jumped on a fastball even though Catcher Ted Simmons wanted a curve. "You have to go with your pitcher," Simmons said later. "He's the one going for a no-hitter."
The New York Mets with four straight wins began to shake off a season of adversity and a recent slump that had produced only four victories in 18 games. Nelson Briles breathed some life into Pittsburgh with a four-hit, 5-0 win over Cincinnati. It came only three days after an 18-3 loss to Atlanta and ended a five-game losing streak. "If there's one club with a chance to come back, it's us," said Briles, "but to do it the pitchers will have to tighten up." So, too, will the hitters, who were shut out by Cincinnati 6-0.
Although Steve Carlton couldn't hold a big lead in an 8-6 loss to Los Angeles, Philadelphia did get some outstanding pitching—and hitting—from Ken Brett and Wayne Twitchell. Brett homered in a 16-3 bombing of Los Angeles and Twitchell bounced three hits, two fewer than he allowed, while beating San Diego 11-0. The Phillies got three hits and three RBIs from Greg Luzinski in a 5-4 win over the Giants.
CHI 37-25 MONT 29-26 STL 29-30 NY 27-29 PITT 25-30 PHIL 25-35
Oakland Manager Dick Williams had some stern words for young Dave Hamilton when he got into early trouble against New York last week. Following a single and a walk by the first two batters, Williams strode to the mound and told the 25-year-old lefthander, who had been bombed in his last two appearances, "If you want to pitch in the big leagues, let's see what you can do." Hamilton got the next batter to ground into a double play, ended the inning with a fly ball and was on his way to a 3-0 shutout. The resurgent Athletics picked up three other wins during the week, one of them an encouraging performance by Vida Blue, who defeated the Yankees 4-2. Blue allowed only five hits and struck out seven for his fifth victory in eight decisions.
Chicago's Wilbur Wood lost a pair of one-run decisions, to Detroit 6-5 and to Milwaukee 1-0. Most of the White Sox offense for the week came in a 10-2 victory over the Tigers that featured four home runs.
Minnesota also bombed Detroit in a 13-6 triumph that ended a three-game losing streak. Bobby Darwin had his "best game ever, anywhere," driving in seven runs with four hits, including two homers.
Frank White, just up from Omaha, became the first graduate of the Kansas City Baseball Academy to appear in a major league game for the Royals. His defensive play at shortstop helped set Baltimore down 2-0. Another Omaha product didn't fare as well. Mark Littell, who practices "self-hypnosis" before and during starts, was returned to harsh reality by Baltimore, 8-3.
Nolan Ryan added to his major league strikeout lead with 10 K's as California defeated New York 5-2. For Ryan, beaten earlier in the week by Boston 6-5, it was his first win ever against the Yankees. Texas, with four losses in its last five efforts, has scheduled top draft choice David Clyde for a June 27 debut against Minnesota.
CHI 32-24 MINN 32-25 OAK 33-29 KC 34-30 CAL 30-28 TEX 19-37
The baseball team that could make Milwaukee even more famous won its eighth straight game Saturday and 13 of its last 14. "People keep asking if we are for real," says Dave May of the division-leading Brewers, "and we want to show them we are. Recently we've started believing it ourselves." The Brewers took five games from Chicago and Minnesota, the two top teams in the Western Division.
Four teams are within four games of Milwaukee but only one of them is making much headway. New York lost three of five on a West Coast swing while Baltimore, with strong pitching, was winning four of six. Mike Cuellar three-hit Texas 1-0 and the next night Jim Palmer retired 25 Rangers in a row before Ken Suarez ruined his perfect game with a single. A walk and another base hit by Dave Nelson ended the shutout, but Palmer still managed a 9-1 victory, his seventh against four losses.
Boston and Detroit were also able to stay close despite a string of losses. The Red Sox dropped four straight even though Carl Yastrzemski is "swinging the best he has since he won the Triple Crown in 1967," according to Coach Eddie Popowski. Yaz inspired Popowski with home runs in all three games against California, giving him 10 for the year, or two fewer than he totaled all last season.
Detroit lost three in a row, by scores of 10-2 to Chicago and 13-6 and 5-0 to Minnesota, but the worst of it came against the minor league Mud Hens in Toledo. Not only did the International Leaguers shut them out 5-0, but the Tigers lost Pitchers Lerrin LaGrow for 21 days and John Hiller for a week when the two collided while shagging flies before the game. Cleveland, very thoroughly in last place, had a losing week also. General Manager Phil Seghi picked up a couple of pitchers in trades. To make any further changes, he said, "would break up what we are building on. I won't do that." Well, it sounded good when he said it.
MIL 32-27 BALT 29-26 NY 32-29 DET 30-29 BOST 27-30 CLEV 22-38