After NEW YORK swept back-to-back twi-night doubleheaders from the Indians and opened up a four-game lead, all the Yanks' Manager Yogi Berra would say was: "Yeah, I think we got a pretty good chance to win the pennant." But Yogi is a bad liar; it was written all over his face that he knew the flag was in the bag. And why not? The Yankees won seven of seven last week with the same kind of solid all-round play that characterized all those pennant winners from New York in past years. They hit nine homers, had a .313 team BA, and fielded superbly. But it was the pitching that showed the most improvement, with Pedro Ramos (three saves) leading a revived bullpen and rookie Mel Stottlemyre pitching two more wins and getting some hits too. Mel went 5 for 5 in his two-hit shutout of the Senators. In extending its victory string to 11, New York ran up the longest winning streak of the major league season. And at just about the perfect time. The CHICAGO White Sox (4-1) tried to keep pace, but the Yanks were moving too fast. The Sox' only loss was 1-0, and the pitching was excellent in every game, particularly by lefty Gary Peters, who got his 19th and 20th victories of the season. Two losses to the DETROIT Tigers (5-1), who virtually guaranteed themselves a fourth-place finish, dropped BALTIMORE (3-3) for the count. The Orioles lost those key games to the Tigers on the same two days the Yanks were sweeping the doubleheaders from the Indians, and that cost Manager Hank Bauer's team three big games in the standings. One bright spot for the Birds was long-haired Rookie Wally Bunker (18-5), who moved within range of a 20-win season with two more victories. The LOS ANGELES Angels' (4-2) Dean Chance scored his 20th win on his 11th shutout and fifth 1-0 victory of the year. In all, the Angels' staff threw three scoreless games to more than make up for weak hitting that produced just 15 runs. The MINNESOTA Twins (2-3) were the victims of two of those Los Angeles shutouts and wasted strong pitching from Jim Kaat and Mudcat Grant, which prevented them from taking over sole possession of sixth place from sagging CLEVELAND (1-7). The Indians, who just the week before were within easy range of fourth place, found the Yanks too hard to handle and then failed to rebound against the Orioles. Even rookie whiz Luis Tiant, who had won nine of his first 11 decisions, lost twice. The tail-enders, BOSTON, WASHINGTON and KANSAS CITY, all lost four out of five and were firmly committed to eighth-, ninth-and 10th-place finishes, respectively. The Athletics may yet finish with a won-lost record as poor as the National League's Mets.
For six wonderful weeks the PHILADELPHIA Phillies (1-6) looked like the surest and earliest winner the National League, which prides itself on its annual tight pennant race, had produced in years. Then last week (see page 26), the third-place CINCINNATI Reds (7-0) came to town and turned Philadelphia's wonderful world upside down. While local writers spread fear across the sports pages and fans became sick with anguish, the Phils dropped three straight to the Reds and three more to the Braves, cutting their lead as of last Saturday night to just half a game. The Reds, with their best sustained hitting of the year to support their always tight pitching, looked ready to move right past the Phils. Cincinnati's batters, led by Marty Keough (.438) and Frank Robinson (.360), hit at a .283 clip, and the pitchers allowed just 14 runs all week, with long-dormant John Tsitouris coming up with two wins, including a 1-0 shutout in opener of the crucial Phillies' series. Two losses in seven games cost the ST. LOUIS Cardinals second place, but they still moved up on the Phils almost as fast as the Reds did and trailed the leaders by 1½ games at week's end. The Cards used two wins from Curt Simmons and strong hitting from Bill White (.400), Lou Brock (.355) and Mike Shannon (.320) in their upward surge. Even the SAN FRANCISCO Giants (4-1), who have looked down and out for weeks since Willie Mays's slump began, seemed to be back in contention. Willie was still far below par, but the Giants' pitching was up—allowing just nine runs for the week with Juan Marichal winning his 20th game of the season on a one-run five-hitter. Although the Reds started the Phils' decline, it was the MILWAUKEE Braves (5-1) who applied the crusher at Connie Mack Stadium. Rookie Pitcher Wade Blasingame, with three wins for the week, won two of them at Philadelphia, and Rico Carty drove in three runs with a bases-loaded ninth-inning triple in a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Phillies. The Braves cinched a fifth-place share of the World Series money ahead of the PITTSBURGH Pirates (1-6) and the LOS ANGELES Dodgers (1-4), who could not score and lost. The Pittsburgh hitting was fair (.247 team average), but it did not produce many runs (just 18 for the week); the Dodgers hit an embarrassing .238. Three of the Dodgers losses came against the CHICAGO Cubs (3-2), who swept a series from Los Angeles on Ron Santo's clutch hitting and tight pitching from Cal Koonce (a 1-0 shutout) and Larry Jackson, who won his 22nd game of the year. The HOUSTON Colt .45s (2-3) received strong performances from Bob Bruce, a 10-strikeout two-hitter, and Ken Johnson, a four-hitter, for their wins. Although NEW YORK could win just one game in six, it was all the Mets needed to match the best season of their brief history (51 wins).
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ever since 1961, when he hit 61 home runs, the fans have been booing Yankee slugger Roger Maris. Some of the jeers may have been deserved, but most seem to have come as a matter of routine from those who were convinced that Maris was no good simply because he has not been able to come near duplicating his titanic feat. So accustomed has Roger become to the hoots of the crowd that they rarely bother him anymore, and one night last week he thinks they even helped him. Two fans sitting behind the Yankee dugout had been yelling at Maris all evening, and they turned it on full blast as he stepped up to bat in the seventh inning with the Yankees trailing 5-2. Maris promptly stroked a two-run homer. Two innings later with the score tied 5-5 and Maris coming up again, the two men had some more ill-chosen words and gestures for him. As Maris went to bat, Catcher Elston Howard leaned off the bench and yelled, "Keep it up, fellas. Maybe you'll bother him as much as you did last time." They did, and Maris hit another home run to give the Yanks their 10th straight win. After that second homer, Roger gave a sweeping tip of the helmet to his two critics and blew them a kiss. "They were just two drunken louses," he said later. Maris was too busy getting hits to worry about boos—it was his hitting that led the Yankees in their streak. A .333 batter during the week, he raised his average from .270 to almost .290 during the Yankees' surge.