It started out like a bad week for Dave Nicholson of CHICAGO. He was hitting .206, and slamming a garage door on his hand would not help matters. Or would it? First he hit a three-run homer to beat the Angels 3-2. Then in a double-header he hit three more home runs, one a prodigious drive estimated at 573 feet. In all, Nicholson batted .391 for the week, scored nine runs and drove in 10 as the White Sox won five of seven and took over first place. "Put your hand under the garage door again," urged teammate Eddie Fisher. Nicholson hit his long homer against Moe Drabowsky of KANSAS CITY (4-4), who has practically made a career of being spectacularly unsuccessful. Examining his record, Drabowsky said, "I gave Musial his 3,000th hit. I was the loser when Wynn won his 300th game. And now this." Although the Athletics hit 13 home runs (five by Rocky Colavito), the pitchers gave up 21 and an average of nearly seven runs a game. John Wyatt somehow managed to win three times in relief, however. Good pitching was scarce last week, but one of the best performances was turned in by Tommy John, a CLEVELAND rookie, who used only 74 pitches in shutting out the Orioles on three hits. It also earned him a start against the Yankees. In that game John threw even fewer pitches—seven, to be exact—but gave up four hits and three runs before being removed. That outburst was typical of NEW YORK (6-2), which ended its hitting slump by scoring 38 runs in its last five games. WASHINGTON (3-6) went into a fielding slump (10 errors) and landed kerplunk in last place. Only clutch hits by Jim King, Don Lock and Chuck Hinton, plus good relief pitching by Ron Kline, kept the week from being a total disaster. Things were even worse for DETROIT, which led in all six of its games yet could win only one. Reliever Larry Sherry lost three times in five days. About the only fun the Tigers had was when they visited the World's Fair while in New York. As far as Manager Hank Bauer was concerned, his BALTIMORE (5-3) players were having too much fun on a plane trip after a loss. Bauer gave them a tongue-lashing, declared later, "I won't put up with an I-don't-care attitude. I trust they now understand this." They understood well enough to win their next two games with late rallies. Manager Sam Mele of MINNESOTA was angry, too. His players hit 17 homers (Jimmie Hall had five), but because of the "worst pitching I've ever seen" the Twins lost five of seven games. Excellent relief work by Dean Chance and Willie Smith and a three-run pinch homer by Jim Fregosi enabled LOS ANGELES to split eight games and climb to sixth. Eddie Bressoud of BOSTON (4-3) set a club record by hitting in 20 consecutive games at the start of this season. Dave More-head (five-hit shutout), Jack Lamabe and Dick Radatz chipped in with strong pitching.
In April, when Wes Covington of PHILADELPHIA was having a hard time hitting, a teammate gave him some advice. "Put your bat in the whirlpool," he said. Covington declined, but last week both he and his bat were healthy again anyway. One day he hit a game-winning homer, the next night he drove in two runs, and then he climaxed his week with five RBI's in the next game. Covington's hitting ended a three-game Phillie losing streak and got the team off on a run of four straight wins. Nobody, though, could quite match SAN FRANCISCO'S Willie Mays. His .542 batting and Bob Shaw's effective relief pitching helped carry the front-running Giants to six wins in seven games, four of them by one run. Two of those one-run decisions came against HOUSTON (2-4). As frustrated as Manager Harry Craft was, it was a mere coincidence (so he insists) that the Colts checked into a Los Angeles hotel where a psychiatrists' convention was being held. LOS ANGELES (2-4) made progress, of a sort, advancing from ninth place to a tie for eighth. Of greater importance was the good pitching by Sandy Koufax, who returned from two weeks of medical care and pitched a 10-inning 2-1 win over the Cubs. "It was a triumph for medical science," Koufax said. Ken Boyer of ST. LOUIS (4-3) had a less scientific explanation for his .431 hitting for the past two weeks. Pointing to an undershirt once used by Stan Musial that he himself was now wearing, Boyer said, "It wasn't Stan's talent, it was the clothes he wore." Except for a win and a save by Roger Craig, the bullpen was more harmful than helpful. NEW YORK'S Casey Stengel had so little faith in his bullpen that he asked Al Jackson to go back out and pitch the ninth inning against the Reds, even though the little southpaw had asked to be relieved because of a pain in his shoulder. Jackson dutifully went back to work and hung on for a 3-2 win for the Mets (2-6). For CINCINNATI (4-4), that was the first of three straight losses. Leo Cardenas batted .444, but the Reds' supposedly strong pitching looked very weak. MILWAUKEE'S pitchers began the week with three impressive wins: a two-hit shutout by Hank Fischer, a two-hitter by Denny Lemaster, a four-hit shutout by Warren Spahn. Tony Cloninger later added a 2-1 victory. In their other three games, all losses, the pitchers were tagged for 26 runs and 35 hits. The final loss was 10-0 to PITTSBURGH (4-3), as Vernon Law pitched a five-hitter, his best game since 1960. Bob Friend also pitched a shutout, beating the Cardinals 1-0. Willie Stargell played in only four games but drove in 10 runs. CHICAGO (2-3) got plenty of hitting from Billy Williams (.526), Ron Santo (.389) and Andre Rodgers (.375).
May 17, 1964
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Last Friday was a big day in the life of Juan Marichal, the Giants' leading pitcher. In the afternoon he signed the papers for a new $40,000 home in San Francisco, a long step from the family banana-and-rice plantation in the Dominican Republic where he labored as a boy. That night, in celebration, Marichal pitched a splendid five-hit shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Candlestick Park, his second victory of the week over the world champions. It was Marichal's fifth straight win of the season and his 11th in a row going back to last September. The string of victories started when he defeated Chicago for his 20th win of 1963. Marichal puts a lot of store by his pitching motion, a high-kicking move that proves distracting to the batter. "Ortega was much faster than I was tonight," said Marichal after his shutout, "but my motion was bigger than ever." Says Giant Manager Alvin Dark: "When Juan has his stuff, which is most of the time, he cannot understand how anyone can hit him. I've seen that puzzled look several times. But when he doesn't have his stuff, he can't wait to be lifted."
When this season is over, Marichal will not return to the Dominican Republic, as is his habit, but will remain in San Francisco in his $40,000 home. "Maybe I can get a job here?" he asked. If Marichal continues to pitch as he has this season, he will not need a winter job for a long time.