It was a wild week for pitchers. Boston's Bill Monbouquette and Kansas City's Bob Meyer both threw one-hitters last week and lost. In all, there were 17 shutouts in the big leagues, with an assortment of 33 low-hit (five-hitters or better) games—and they always seemed to come in pairs. Six times the pitching was so good for both sides that there were 10 hits or less in the game and, as Monbo and Meyer found out, somebody had to lose. The best match came between rookies Meyer and Frank Bertaina of Baltimore who threw twin one-hitters, but neither had the week's top individual performance. That came from another rookie, the A's just-turned-18 John (Blue Moon) Odom, who beat the Orioles with a two-hitter, both hits coming on infield plays so debatable that the whole A's organization was fuming mad at Baltimore Official Scorer Lou Hatter. A's Owner Charlie Finley was so sure Hatter was wrong he decided to give Odom the usual $1,000 no-hit bonus.
The smart guys in Las Vegas blew the whistle on the National League pennant race last week; they stopped taking bets on the PHILADELPHIA Phillies (4-5). It looks like the bookies have called this one correctly. While the Phils suffered through their third straight subpar week, none of the other contenders took advantage of the slump and the Phillies stayed six games up. The Phils look tough for the final drive, particularly with the return to form of Dennis Bennett, who won twice after eight victoryless weeks. The ST. LOUIS Cardinals (5-3) jumped into a tie for second with two wins each from streaking Bob Gibson and Reliever Bob Humphreys, but the Cards lost a pair of key games, which prevented them from moving even closer to the top. SAN FRANCISCO (5-3) also had a chance to put the heat on the Phils, but could only split four games with the league leaders. In one game the Giants wasted four-hit pitching when Willie Mays struck out looking three times with the winning run on base. By scoring just seven runs in five losses, the light-hitting CINCINNATI Reds (3-5) dropped to fourth and just about out of sight of the pennant. Even with Henry Aaron sidelined, the MILWAUKEE Braves (6-2) played well. They hit hard (.287 team average) and had pitching to match, particularly from Denny Lemaster, who threw a one-hit, 1-0 shutout. The frustrated LOS ANGELES Dodgers (6-3) still managed to show some life on two wins from Pete Richert and tight relief work from Ron Perranoski. The HOUSTON Colts (1-7) parlayed mediocre hitting (.232 team BA) and pitching (3.41 staff ERA) into an eight-game losing streak before Don Larsen righted them with a win over PITTSBURGH (4-4). The Pirates had little to cheer about except Vern Law's pitching (two shutouts, including a two-hitter). The NEW YORK Mets (3-5) continued to mistreat Houston with a doubleheader sweep, but still have not found out how to beat the Dodgers and lost three of four. The CHICAGO Cubs' (4-4) hitters were hard to stop (.290 BA) and so was Larry Jackson, who won his 18th and 19th games.
For years the WASHINGTON Senators' (3-6) Manager Gil Hodges has been considered just about the nicest guy around baseball. But after last week, the CHICAGO White Sox' (4-5) Al Lopez may not agree. All Hodges did was pick two of his most disappointing pitchers, Bennie Daniels and Dave Stenhouse, to go in a Labor Day doubleheader. To Lopez it was the nastiest thing Hodges could have done, because Daniels and Stenhouse allowed just two runs over 18 innings and beat the Sox twice, knocking them out of first. And Lopez' team found the losing habit hard to shake; they lost two more after that and dropped 1½ games out in a second-place tie with the onrushing NEW YORK Yankees (6-2). The Yanks looked like the Bombers of old, with power (nine homers), pitching (including two more wins from rookie Mel Stottlemyre) and clutch hitting from Roger Maris and Bobby Richardson, who won games with last-inning RBIs. The BALTIMORE Orioles (6-4), who moved back up to first after the Sox stumbled, were not conceding anything to the Yanks. With Milt Pappas and Wally Bunker (each a two-time winner) apparently stronger than ever, the Birds have every reason to be confident, particularly with Boog Powell back with his home run swing (three for the week) intact despite a tender wrist. With Mickey Lolich pitching (two shutouts) and Don Wert (.462) hitting, DETROIT (5-2) looked like a sure fourth-place finisher. CLEVELAND (4-4) continued to play well, but most of the Indians' best fans were too busy to watch; they were out hustling 1965 tickets in order to keep the pauper-poor Tribe in town next year. Even Meyer's and Odom's pitching and Rocky Colavito's 300th career homer were not enough to prevent KANSAS CITY (2-5) Owner Charlie Finley's putting his team up for sale as promised after the league again okayed CBS' purchase of the Yanks. Except when they were shut out twice, the LOS ANGELES Angels' (4-2) pitching was good enough to beat anyone, as the staff never allowed more than three runs. Even though Zoilo Versalles (2 HRs) became the sixth Twin to hit 20 homers this year, MINNESOTA again proved power alone is not enough and just split eight games. The BOSTON Red Sox (2-6) wasted an unusual supply of good pitching in six games and, for the second week, a regular—this time Carl Yastrzemski—was benched for not hustling.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
At Chicago's Wrigley Field, where Outfielder Lou Brock played for the Cubs before he was traded to the Cardinals in June, the fans used to get on him. Brock fielded poorly, hit only in the mid-.200s and was not often allowed to show off his strongest baseball talent—base stealing. Overall, it was a situation that did not bring cheers for Lou. It was more likely to provoke barbs like "Brock, as in Rock" from the bleacherites. But when Bing Devine, former Cardinal general manager, traded away two slumping pitchers, Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz, to get Brock, he did it with one thing in mind—to juice up the St. Louis base running. So when Brock arrived, Cardinal Manager Johnny Keane let him run on his own and the speedster did the rest. Opening up at full throttle, he has stolen 31 bases since joining the team. He also opened up at the plate—his stance, that is—and has begun hitting his old bugaboo, inside pitches. Batting .344 since June, Brock has drawn nary a boo in St. Lou, where the fans are so pleased by his daring base running and his hitting, including nine home runs, that they are cheering loudly. Last week, as the Cards continued their late run at the pennant, Lou was showing the way with a .412 average (he is now the league's seventh best batter with .310 for the year), three homers, 10 RBIs and three stolen bases—a performance that has Cards' fans agreeing that the name is Brock, as in Sock.