There was no place like home as far as National Leaguers were concerned. Twenty-eight of the first 44 games this season were won by the home team (a .636, or pennant-winning, percentage), including eight of 11 one-run contests. One of the few teams that did not prosper at home was SAN FRANCISCO (2-2), though Giant fans showed up for the Candlestick Park opener bedecked in orange and black, the team colors. Among the stylish orange fashions worn by women were raincoats, handbags, glasses, hats, earrings, sweaters, shoes, miniskirts and one orange leather helmet. The black umbrellas carried by many of the men were more functional (it rained intermittently) and appropriate (the Giants lost to the Cardinals on an error in the 11th). When Juan Manorial lost his third straight game the next day he was booed lustily. Said Willie McCovey of his grand-slam homer, which helped beat the Braves 6-5 and which barely cleared the fence, "I just stood there and blowed. I think I blew the ball over." ATLANTA (2-1) Manager Billy Hitchcock had brought in rookie left-hander Ramon Hernandez, allegedly a whiz at retiring left-handed batters, to face McCovey. It was the only bit of strategy that failed to work last week for Hitchcock. Earlier in the week he had intentionally walked left-handed-hitting Joe Morgan of HOUSTON (0-5), thereby loading the bases and setting up a force at any base. It also pitted Brave right-hander Tony Cloninger against former Brave slugger Eddie Mathews. Cloninger got Mathews on a soft fly ball. In the last of the ninth in that game, Hitchcock sent Mack Jones, a lefty, up to pinch-hit. When left-hander Dan Schneider came in to pitch for the Astros, Hitchcock had Jim Beauchamp, a right-handed batter, hit for Jones. Beauchamp hit a sacrifice fly, and the Braves won. The rain in LOS ANGELES (3-2) stayed mainly in Dodger Stadium, and for the first time since they moved to California the ex-Brooklynites were forced to postpone a game. Adolfo Phillips of CHICAGO (2-2) muffed an easy fly and gave the Phillies three runs. Later in the game Phillips, heartened by pep talks from teammates and coaches between innings, cracked a two-run homer to beat the Phillies. PITTSBURGH (1-2) Pitching Coach Clyde King detected a flaw in Bob Veale's motion, and while the Pirates batted in the fourth inning of a game against the Cubs he took the big left-hander to the bullpen to correct the problem. Over the last six innings Veale did not allow a hit and finished with a two-hit, 6-1 victory. Converted Outfielder Mel Queen pitched 5‚Öîhitless innings in relief as CINCINNATI (4-2) notched its fourth win in five tries against the Astros, as many as the Reds took from them all last year. Julian Javier of ST. LOUIS (3-2), who hit .130 and .103 against the Giants in 1965 and 1966, hit two homers in San Francisco last week, and Tim McCarver (.115 and .185) hit another. The biggest patsy for Jim Bunning of PHILADELPHIA (3-2) has been NEW YORK (3-3), against whom he had a 13-2 record that included eight straight wins (four of them shutouts, another a perfect game) in Shea Stadium. This time the Mets got to Bunning and finally drove him out of the game—literally—when Don Bosch's single struck him in the seat of the pants.
Standings: StL 7-2, Cin 9-3, Phil 7-3, Atl 5-4, Chi 5-4, Pitt 3-5, NY 4-7, LA 3-6, SF 3-7, Hou 3-8
Managers were in midseason form: furious. Bill Rigney of CALIFORNIA (4-2) locked the clubhouse door after a 4-1 loss to DETROIT (3-2) in which the Angels transformed a hit-and-run attempt into a game-ending double play. The double play, an odd one, came about when Tom Satriano, batting with men on first and third, swung at a pitch and missed. Tiger Catcher Bill Freehan threw out the runner going to second and then took the return throw in time to nail the runner coming in from third. After losing 6-5 to the Angels, Joe Adcock of CLEVELAND (2-4) told his troops, "Don't ever let us lose a game like this again." Adcock then told his players to remain in the clubhouse for 45 minutes to meditate upon their sins. Eddie Stanky of Chicago (3-3) said, "You blew this one, and if we lose the pennant by one game I want you to remember it," after his players lost 4-3 to WASHINGTON (2-2). Strong, silent Gil Hodges of the Senators maintained his composure even though fly balls kept dropping in front of his outfielders, but Dick Williams of BOSTON (2-2) snorted of pudgy Joe Foy, "He can hardly bend over to pick up the ball." Rookie left-hander Bill Rohr was working on his second straight shutout against NEW YORK (2-2), until Elston Howard, who the week before broke up his no-hitter, drove in a run in the eighth. The Yankees extended to eight their number of games without a home run. Nine home runs, three each by Frank Robinson and Curt Blefary—once a Yankee farmhand—perked up the sputtering BALTIMORE (2-3) offense. Catfish Hunter and Jack Aker (below) of KANSAS CITY (2-4) combined to pitch a four-hitter against the Orioles. Of Hunter's strong performance Pitching Coach Cot Deal said, "Catfish has become a man."
Standings: Cal 7-5, NY 5-4, Chi 6-5, Det 6-5, Balt 6-5, KC 5-6, Wash 4-5, Minn 4-5, Bos 4-5, Clev 4-6
Reliever Jack Aker of the Athletics, who is one-eighth Potawatomi, is supplying a new twist to the old cowboys-and-Indians plot. Take last week. Jim (Catfish) Hunter of the Athletics was pitching the finest game of his career against the Orioles. Hunter had a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, when he suddenly got into trouble by giving up a single and a walk. There were two out, but Hunter's first pitch to Woodie Held was sky-high and there was hardly a soul in Baltimore who was not confident that the A's, true to their traditional second-division form, would blow the game. Then out of the bullpen came Aker. He is a former junior college fullback and a former minor league outfielder who hit so poorly that, although he had been only a mediocre high school pitcher, he was advised to go back to pitching. Despite his unimpressive background, hitters now have an abiding respect for Aker, who last year tied a major league record with 26 saves. In Baltimore, his warmup pitches out of the way, Aker quickly disposed of Held on a routine grounder and earned his second save of the season. Three days later he drove in the lead run in the eighth inning, then once again stopped the Orioles cold as he won his second game of the year. Jack is called The Chief, The Savage and Half breed by teammates, and less complimentary names by opponents. When The Chief comes to the rescue (forget the cavalry) he leaves American League batters feeling like so many General Custers.