Last week was typical of the fine pitching that has dominated the league, for there were five shutouts and 13 games in which five or less hits were allowed. In all, there had been 61 shutouts pitched through Sunday, which was 13% ahead of last year's pace. As outstanding as Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers and Juan Marichal of the Giants have been, Bob Gibson of ST. LOUIS (2-5) has been the equal of anyone during the past five weeks. Since May 22:
Bob Veale of PITTSBURGH (2-4) pitched his third straight five-hitter, using what he calls "my integrated pitch." Explains Veale, "It catches just a little of the black and a little of the white of the plate." Phil Regan of LOS ANGELES (3-4) has become one of the most effective relievers extant, and his secret weapon is a "super slider." Opponents contend that his slider is really a spitball. Much the same is again being said of Bob Shaw of NEW YORK (5-2), who won twice and set a Met record by becoming the first starter ever to win four games in a row. The Mets, who had never won more than four games on a road trip before, were 8-6 on their latest journey. Hank Aaron of ATLANTA (4-3) tied the league record by hitting his 24th homer before the end of June. When slugger Willie McCovey of SAN FRANCISCO (5-2) was sidelined, Manager Herman Franks moved Ozzie Virgil into the lineup for the first time. The light-hitting Virgil hit a homer, and Franks was labeled as the Wizard of Oz. Sonny Jackson of HOUSTON (5-2), without a homer in 256 at bats, had two last week. Mike Cuellar saved one game in relief, won two as a starter. CHICAGO (1-7) got heavy hitting from Ron Santo (below) and Billy Williams, though most of it was canceled out by inept Cub pitching. Deron Johnson of CINCINNATI (5-1) went on a nine-game binge and doubled his RBI total for the year to 24. Despite 90° weather, Richie Allen of PHILADELPHIA (2-4) took extra batting practice. That night he hit two home runs. He hit another later in the week and for the season was producing one homer for each 11.1 times at bat.
Standings: SF 45-27, Pitt 39-29, LA 40-30, Hou 39-32, Phil 37-34, Cin 34-35, StL 33-36, Atl 33-41, NY 29-38, Chi 21-48
"This is the most beautiful park in America, especially those seats in right field. They were made for me." That's the way Curt Blefary of BALTIMORE (5-2) felt about Yankee Stadium before the game, and that night he hit a home run into those seats for all of Baltimore's runs in a 3-0 victory. Those were the same seats into which Frank Robinson fell the night before, after making the most controversial catch of the season. With two out in the last of the ninth, Yankee Roy White hit what looked like a three-run, game-winning homer, but Robinson ran back to the hip-high fence, leaped, gloved the ball and then fell backward into the seats and out of sight, except for his feet. He came up some seconds later clutching the ball, but no one knew for sure whether he had lost possession of it—which is what the Yankees and some of their fans seated nearby claimed. During the second game of the twi-night doubleheader, spectators assailed Robinson with firecrackers, sandwiches and assorted debris. One indignant Baltimore writer referred to the Yankee fans as "hoodlums masquerading as humans...who set New York civilization back 1,000 years." But NEW YORK (4-4) rooters would have been satisfied if they could have turned time back just a little to the days when their Yankees were winning those close games they are now losing. Manager Ralph Houk moaned about his club's 14 one-run losses, then learned that CHICAGO (3-5) had lost 19 such games. The next day the Sox, who were well on their way to breaking the league record of 38 one-run losses, came up with two home runs off the left field foul pole to beat the Yankees 2-1. "In my whole life I never have had a slump like this," said Tony Oliva of MINNESOTA (3-5). Oliva had not had a home run in 18 games, and in a 13-game stretch had batted .192 with only three RBIs. WASHINGTON (3-5) went into a slump en masse, hitting .177 during a four-game losing streak. BOSTON (3-5) continued to play solid 10th-place ball despite the fact that Tony Conigliaro hit three homers after a batting tip from his father, KANSAS CITY (5-3) made 10 errors, yet had its most successful week of the season and climbed to eighth. Relievers Jack Sanford and Lou Burdette, who had won a dozen games between them, kept up their excellent work for CALIFORNIA (4-2). Another former National Leaguer, Larry Sherry of DETROIT (5-3), won twice in relief. Lead-off man Dick McAuliffe got on base his first time up in eight of nine games, twice each on walks, singles, triples and home runs. Rocky Colavito of CLEVELAND (4-5) went on the biggest home-run spree of the year, hitting eight in all. Four came within 24 hours and brought 3-2 and 8-6 wins over the Red Sox.
Standings: Balt 47-24, Det 43-26, Clev 41-27, Cal 38-33, Minn 33-36, Chi 32-37, NY 30-37, KC 30-40, Wash 30-43, Bos 25-46
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
By the end of last week Third Baseman Ron Santo of the Cubs had hit in 26 consecutive games, but keeping that streak alive had not been easy. One night the business was so good at Ron Santo's Pizzeria, just outside Chicago, that he stayed around late and "helped make 1,000, maybe 1,500, pizzas." The next day he hit in his 23rd game in a row, the fifth time that he had kept the streak going with a hit in his final at bat. A little moonlighting was one thing, but there were bigger threats to his hit-a-game ritual. Twice last week he was carried off the field on a stretcher, first after he was spiked in four places on a close play at third and later after he was hit on the face by a pitch. That pitch fractured his cheekbone in two places, and about the only consolation that Santo had was that before being hurt he had picked up a hit in the first inning against the Mets. He will be out for almost two weeks, and when he returns (his streak will remain in suspended animation until he does) he will surely continue a practice he has kept up in recent weeks. Santo says he is not superstitious, yet it just happens that he had a bowl of fruit with breakfast each day during his spree. In those 26 games Santo batted .368, drove in 17 runs and hit six balls into the seats. Santo may have difficulty eating solid foods when he first gets back into the lineup, but as long as he keeps hitting he will have that bowl of fruit with breakfast even if he has to resort to eating applesauce.