In San Francisco the frustrations were piling up. It did nothing for the club's puny attendance when beer sales at Candlestick Park ceased because the concessionaire drew a 10-day suspension of its beer license. But what did Owner Horace Stoneham care—he was trying to sell the club. For those still in his employ, it was another scratchy week. The Giants were 3-4 as Bobby Murcer slumped and much-touted Pitcher John D'Acquisto was sent to the bullpen. Desperate for a hype, the club pointed newsmen to a lefthander out of Brooklyn's Lafayette High School. No, Sandy Koufax was not making a comeback. But Pete Falcone did beat Atlanta 7-1.
As if they needed it, the 4-2 Dodgers kept finding more depth. Could they use a third starter? Search no farther than Doug Rail, 5-1, who two-hit the Astros 2-0. A fourth starter? Burt Hooton, formerly of the Cubs, went six strong innings before Mike Marshall lost to Pittsburgh in relief. Some timely hitting? Even the pitchers—Rau, Don Sutton and Andy Messersmith, who went 4 for 9—helped. "Our whole staff can hit," said Sutton. "We don't embarrass ourselves. Walter Alston even lets us hit-and-run." A last-minute outfield switch? Tom Paciorek, rushed into right field, responded with a homer and two singles. "I jogged three miles in the morning because I didn't figure I'd play, and I had a tennis match after the game," said Paciorek. The Dodgers used Paciorek's bat to bop Pittsburgh 6-2.
If Cincinnati doesn't have the best team, it may have baseball's best player in Joe Morgan. As the Reds won five of six, Morgan, who is among the league leaders in batting, walks and stolen bases, was unstoppable. In a 7-3 win over San Diego he homered, tripled, singled, stole a base and scored twice. The next night the Padres walked him four times—and he scored three runs. Once previously Morgan had walked five times. Did he score five runs? "I was with Houston," he said. "I probably scored none."
If this seems like a harsh statement, consider the Astros. In a routine week they lost six of seven games and a pitcher, Dave Roberts, who jumped the club and was suspended. After losing seven of eight, Atlanta beat the Giants 3-2 and the Phils 3-1 and 2-1. Ron Reed, who had been kicking water coolers during a previous losing streak of his own, won his third straight. "You don't see that Mickey Mouse stuff anymore," he said. "We're contenders now." Um, not quite yet.
LA 20-11 CIN 18-13 ATL 16-16 SF 14-15 SD 14-16 HOUS 10-23
As the Phillies strengthened themselves, the Pirates made a show of strength, playing their best baseball of the year in winning four straight and moving from fourth to second. Ken Brett, Jerry Reuss and Bruce Kison beat the Mets (2-1, 6-1, 4-2) and Dock Ellis stopped the Dodgers 11-3. New York, by contrast, lost all five of its games and dropped from second to last. Facing 32 consecutive games against Western Division clubs, the Mets are testing the faith of their gotta-believers.
Chicago continued to be unbelievable. The Cubs were 5-2 in a week in which Outfielder Rick Monday and Reserve Infielder Rob Sperring collided (no serious injury) and Don Kessinger, Manny Trillo, Steve Stone and Rick Reuschel were sidelined. Most encouraging was Bill Bonham's three-hit 7-0 shutout of Montreal.
Nonetheless, the Expos took four of their first five games in a 13-game home stand. Dennis Blair started things out by beating the Cubs 3-2 for the first Expo win by a righthander. Rookie Third Baseman Larry Parrish, who hit .421 for the week, won the game with a homer, prompting Manager Gene Mauch to undiscuss his hitting. "Sometimes you get paralysis from analysis," he said.
The good news in St. Louis was Shortstop Mike Tyson's three hits in his first start and Bob Gibson's first win after three losses, an 11-3 effort against the Phillies. But the Cardinals, who haven't exactly been hitting or pitching with the best of them, split six games and languished in fourth. They thereupon obtained Pitcher Ron Bryant, the ex-Giant. The overweight Bryant won't be eligible until June 6; perhaps his teddy bear will help the team more than Scipio Spinks' stuffed gorilla used to.
CHI 18-8 PITT 13-11 PHIL 13-13 ST.L 11-14 MONT 10-13 NY 10-14
Furiously chasing Oakland (page 28), Texas caught up with the A's in a vintage week: five wins in seven games and mucho noise. The Rangers' choicest victory was over California, 4-3, as Toby Harrah and Roy Smalley executed a double steal. "That may have been the best win I've ever had as a manager," said Billy Martin. "We manufactured it out of little or nothing." One night in Kansas City, Martin and Centerfielder Willie Davis had a shouting match following a 6-5 loss. "I'm doing the talking here," Martin was heard to say. "Get your bleep hands off me," Davis shot back. Later, Martin kicked two Ranger writers out of the dressing room, accusing them of "snooping around." Next day, Martin and Davis exchanged apologies and Martin told the Ranger writers he was sorry.
Last-place Chicago, 4-1, started to look respectable. Jim Kaat won twice for his 11th and 12th straight victories over two seasons, Wilbur Wood beat Cleveland 8-3 for his long-awaited second win of this season and Buddy Bradford belted a 440-foot homer. "Starting pitching is the key to our club," said K.C.'s Nelson Briles, who had just beaten Texas 6-2. Unfortunately, relief pitching couldn't be overlooked. Dennis Leonard, up from Omaha, yielded homers that led to two losses, and Paul Splittorff was sent to the bullpen. The Royals, 2-4, fell to fourth.
With Dave Goltz, Joe Decker and Vic Albury all ailing and Bert Blyleven pitching eight innings of shutout ball, only to have the White Sox win in the ninth for the second time in two weeks, Minnesota pitching was awry. But the Twins managed a 3-2 week when rookie palmballer Jim Hughes beat Kansas City 6-3 and Baltimore 5-2. The second-largest crowd in California's history—43,112—saw Frank Tanana beat Boston 2-0 and Mickey Rivers steal three bases. Rivers is hitting .344 and stealing at a clip that would give him 110 over 162 games, but the Angels were 2-5 for the week nonetheless.
OAK 16-12 TEX 16-12 CAL 15-15 KC 14-15 MINN 11-12 CHI 12-16
When an 0-2 pitch by Sparky Lyle went to the backstop, allowing the winning run to score in a 4-3 defeat at Oakland, Yankee Broadcaster Phil Rizzuto had had it. It was the team's sixth straight loss and the Scooter was homesick. "Boy, look what I missed," he said. "I could have been home tonight at Little Scooter's sports night dinner, and Sunday is Mother's Day. Instead, I come all the way out here to see a loss like this." Holy cow, Phil, are the Yankees that bad? Not quite. Next day Catfish Hunter mowed down his old mates 3-0 on two hits.
Baltimore was slowly climbing, winning four of six and moving from sixth to fourth. Breaking a six-game losing streak of their own, the Orioles pounded on New York 11-1, then used three bunt singles, two sacrifice flies and two Yankee errors to win 3-1 and again 4-3 on Al Bumbry's bases-loaded single. Following a loss to the Twins, the Orioles beat Minnesota 8-6, as Mike Torrez hung on to record his fourth win. Oriole player of the week was Bumbry, at 28 baseball's youngest designated hitter, who batted .500, raising his average to .408.
The Red Sox, 4-1, looked even more like contenders. Their pitchers allowed just 11 runs in five games, beating Cleveland 7-5, 4-1 and 4-2 and California 4-1 before bowing to the Angels 2-0. More good news came when Cuban-born Pitcher Luis Tiant received word that Fidel Castro was expected to let Tiant's parents visit him. They had never seen him pitch in the majors except on TV.
Pitching was faring poorly in Cleveland, where Jim Perry, 1-5, may be sent to the bullpen. "We have to be concerned," said Manager Frank Robinson. "He hasn't been giving us those six or seven innings we expected." And Indian hitters, who had 100 runs and a .266 average after 23 games last year, dipped to .241 and 76. Losing six of seven, Cleveland dropped into the cellar.
Detroit, 2-3, got a one-hitter from erratic Joe Coleman, who stopped Milwaukee 4-2. In a 4-2 week, the Brewers stayed in first, thanks to Henry Aaron's 736th homer, which helped beat Kansas City 7-1, and Rightfielder Sixto Lezcano's hitting (.450).
MIL 16-9 BOS 13-10 DET 12-11 BALT 11-14 NY 11-16 CLEV 10-15