It is supposedly best to let sleeping dogs lie, and last week the SAN FRANCISCO Giants (1-6) relearned that lesson the hard way. The Giants, who lost six straight games on weak pitching (39 runs allowed) and reckless fielding by such old standbys as Willie Mays and Del Crandall, fell to third place when they aroused a drowsy Rover named Frank Robinson of the CINCINNATI Reds (6-0). Robby, who was doped up to ease an aching back and overslept because of it, arrived at Candlestick Park just in time to be plunked by a pitch in the first inning. Aroused, he considered belting the pitcher, but teammates convinced him to wait for his revenge. He got it: Robinson hit three homers against San Francisco in a three-game sweep and helped his team into second place with a .360 BA. Robinson's hitting backed up tight pitching (only 13 runs allowed), particularly by Reliever Sammy Ellis (two wins) and Jim O'Toole, who shut out the Giants, 1-0. For once, the NEW YORK Mets were really amazing. Casey's team won five of six with strong hitting (.327 average) and five straight complete games from the pitching staff. The best job came from rookie Dennis Ribant, who struck out 10 Pirates in a five-hit shutout. The Mets' fielding was improved, too (no unearned runs allowed), particularly behind the plate, where Chris Cannizzaro, who replaced good-hit no-field Jesse Gonder, did not allow any stolen bases and hit .364. The Mets' streak knocked the PITTSBURGH Pirates (2-7) out of the pennant race. The Bucs lost six to New York and Philadelphia when the hitters were shut out three times, scoring only seven runs in all. The PHILADELPHIA Phillies (5-3) took advantage of the Giants' slump to open up a 6½-game lead. Lefthander Chris Short won twice, 2-0 and 8-1, to lower his ERA to 1.80, second only to Sandy Koufax' 1.74, the best in the league. The ST. LOUIS Cardinals (4-3) won two games, thanks to reliable lefties Ray Sadecki and Curt Simmons. This moved the Cards into fourth place. The MIL WAUKEE Braves also won four of seven when Manager Bobby Bragan decided to balance his shaky pitching by juicing up his already potent lineup. He moved Henry Aaron to second base, making room for Felipe Alou in the outfield, and Aaron responded by fielding errorlessly and hitting .444. As attendance figures finally slumped below last year's record-setting pace and the Dodgers fell 15½ games out of first, LOS ANGELES (2-5 )Owner Walter O'Malley began talking of big trades this winter and a new look for the Dodgers in '65. Ron Santo (.407) and Billy Williams (.400) continued to hit and awe opposing pitchers, but they could not make up for the CHICAGO Cubs' (3-4) own generous staff, which allowed 40 runs. The HOUSTON Colts (3-3) played well in the clutch, winning three one-run games, but lost their other three games when they could score only six runs against their opponents' 16.
Left-hander Mickey Lolich of the DETROIT Tigers (4-2) has two jobs: he pitches for Charlie Dressen, and he drives a truck for Uncle Sam. Last week, the two jobs conflicted when Lolich was called for his two-week National Guard summer training. Scheduled to pitch in the second game of a twi-night doubleheader, he got up at 5 a.m., took his turn at the wheel of an Army truck and then hopped a plane for Detroit. Lolich made it to the park in time for the game, and it looks like Army life is doing him good. He threw a three-hit, 10-strikeout, 1-0 shutout at the Angels and helped boost the Tigers into fourth place. The rest of Detroit's pitching was as tight as Lolich's, allowing only 13 runs. Even the losers did well: hard-luck Hank Aguirre pitched another three-hitter and lost 1-0. The LOS ANGELES Angels' (2-5) pitching was almost as good as Detroit's (19 runs allowed), but it was not good enough. Angel hitters produced only nine runs and batted .173, as the team fell into the second division for the first time since mid-July. Jim Kaat and Camilo Pascual both pitched one-run games, and Don Mincher, making his annual bid for the starting job at first base, hit .450 with two homers and six RBIs, as the MINNESOTA Twins (3-1) moved back into fifth place. In a topsy-turvy battle to keep out of the cellar, the KANSAS CITY Athletics (4-3), who fell into 10th place for the 11th time two weeks ago, threatened to climb out again on the relief pitching of Wes Stock (two wins) and the hitting of Wayne Causey (.519) and Jim Gentile (four HRs, .412). The WASHINGTON Senators (1-4) were falling back to meet the A's. The Nats out-hit their opponents, 33-32, but could not produce with men on base, scoring only 10 runs. The pitching was shaky too, as four pitchers were required in three of the losses. The CLEVELAND Indians (4-3) needed a five-hitter by Sonny Siebert and a four-hitter by Dick Donovan at the end of the week to halt a slide into eighth. Cleveland pitching allowed only six runs in the wins, but in the losses Birdie Tebbetts' start could not get anyone out and gave up 33 runs to the A's and Twins. The BOSTON Red Sox, who also won four of seven, played a hand in the pennant race by beating the Yanks and Orioles twice each. Dick Radatz won two of them and was credited with a save in a third. The scramble at the top between the BALTIMORE Orioles (3-3), the CHICAGO White Sox (5-2) and the NEW YORK Yankees (2-6, see page 14) left the Yanks gasping 5½ games out in third place after a six-game losing streak, while the other two teams bounced in and out of first.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Met Outfielder Joe Christopher is from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands which, according to the airlines, is only a few hours from New York. But Joe evidently never read the ads, because it took him nine years to make the trip. He spent time in places like Lincoln, Neb. and Salt Lake City, always hitting around .300. Christopher figured he could hit .300 in the majors too, but he did not—not with the Pirates nor later with the Mets. So it was back to the minors, Syracuse and Buffalo this time, where he hit about .300 again and still got no-where. Then last summer in Buffalo, Billy Herman changed Christopher's backswing and taught him to swing at the ball instead of the pitcher's motion. Joe, who has the widest grin and the biggest dimples in baseball, found plenty to smile about. With his new swing, he played the second half of the season and finished with a .288 average and 19 homers. Kept on the Mets' roster this spring because he had no more options left, Christopher received the break he needed when injuries opened a spot in the New York outfield. He moved into the starting lineup in May and has refused to budge. Hitting around .300 with 10 home runs since then, Christopher last week led the Mets on a five-game winning streak with a .440 average and six RBIs. It moved him up to fifth in the batting race with .314. Joe simply smiled and said, "That's what I've been saying: I knew I could do it all along."