Before his Tigers took on CHICAGO (3-0) in Comiskey Park, Manager Mayo Smith said, "This park is the empire of pitching." Smith knew whereof he spoke, for that night the Tigers lost 2-1. However, the White Sox did not confine their fine pitching to their home park. In Cleveland they won twice, first on a four-hitter by Tommy John, then on a three-hit shutout by Joe Horlen and Bob Locker. Except for one bad game, the Sox pitchers were exceptional during the past three weeks. In 13 games—nine of them wins—they had a 1.45 ERA, held opponents to a .201 batting average and gave up only 12 extra-base hits, including just two homers. Tommie Agee stole a pair of bases (giving him nine for nine this year), and each was followed by a run-scoring single by Pete Ward. For all the glitter, the White Sox had no better pitching than WASHINGTON (4-2), which gave up only two runs in 55 innings during one span (0.35 ERA) and left opponents with a minuscule .125 batting average. Pete Richert, with help from Dick Baldwin, beat the A's 1-0 and attributed his sudden effectiveness (he had lost his first three games) to the abandonment of his curve ball. Conversely, Mickey Lolich of DETROIT (3-1) said he owed his shutout over the Orioles to his new-found curve. Surprisingly, he did not credit Johnny Sain, who has been praised more often and more lavishly than any pitching coach in years, for his new pitch. "I found this one myself," Lolich explained. Timely and frequent hitting by Al Kaline (.429 for the week) produced vital runs and made him the leading batter in the majors (.392). NEW YORK (1-3) was rained out three times, and when the Yankees did get in a couple of games they were played in MINNESOTA (4-1), where the temperature dropped as low as 29°. With four regulars ailing, the Twins needed robust hitting by Zoilo Versalles (13 runs produced) and Ron Clark (two HRs. seven RBIs) to get their offense thawed out. A lack of runs hurt BOSTON (2-4, page 66), KANSAS CITY (2-3) and CALIFORNIA (3-3), but the Angels' pitching got a boost from Jim McGlothlin, who turned in a two-hitter and a three-hitter. After BALTIMORE (1-4) beat the Indians 8-7 on a three-run homer by Woodie Held, who was a pinch hitter for a pinch hitter, one Oriole shouted, "Watch out, American League." Then the Orioles scored twice in four games, lost all four and fell below .500 for the first time in more than two years. CLEVELAND (1-3) also had trouble scoring. About the only weapon the Indians had was the missed bunt. Twice, having failed to bunt, batters whacked out extra-base hits—one a double, the other a homer.
Standings: Del 13-7, Chi 12-7, NY 10-9, Wash 11-10, Bos 10-10, Cal 11-12, Minn 9-11, Balt 9-12, Clev 8-11, KC 8-12
Having won his 14th game in a row over two seasons the night before, Phil Regan of LOS ANGELES (1-3) seemed the obvious reliever to bring in when PITTSBURGH (5-1) got a ninth-inning rally going the next day. The Pirates had been trailing 5-0 with two out, but when they got started not even The Vulture could stop them: they scored five times and tied the game. Regan faced three men and gave up three hits, but, true to form, he was not tagged with the loss. The game went to the 15th inning before a single by Pitcher Juan Pizarro gave the Pirates the victory. Four home runs by Orlando Cepeda put some life back into the ST. LOUIS (3-3) attack, but game-winning singles by Ernie Banks and Don Kessinger of CHICAGO (2-3) overcame a lot of that slugging. The Cubs' young left-hander, Ken Holtzman, was ordered to report May 22 for six months of National Guard training. After the Cardinals' Bob Gibson and Ray Washburn each stopped CINCINNATI (2-3) with consecutive two-hit shutouts, Pete Rose of the Reds said, "I gotta feel sorry for the Braves, because we're overdue to hurt someone." On cue, the Reds tore into ATLANTA (3-2) for 21 runs, 36 hits (six by Rose) and seven homers (two by Rose). When the Braves moved to within two runs of the Reds and had the bases loaded in the opening game of that series, Ted Abernathy (below) cooled them off by getting Hank Aaron and Mack Jones to pop out. Willie Mays of SAN FRANCISCO (2-3), pulled from a game for a pinch runner after hitting a triple, showed public disapproval of Manager Herman Franks' move, but the Giants insisted all was still sweetness and light between manager and star, NEW YORK (2-2) fell behind the Giants 2-1 in the 12th, then scored twice in the last half of the inning to win. Later, a ninth-inning homer by Jerry Buchek gave Rookie Tom Seaver a 2-1 win over the Astros. HOUSTON (2-2) complained about a lack of hitting but managed to take two out of three from the Phillies and batter four pitchers with a stunning eight-run inning. The PHILADELPHIA (2-2) bullpen was completely undependable, so much so that when Starter Jim Bunning developed a blister on his pitching hand, Manager Gene Mauch took no chances. He brought in another starter, Chris Short, to protect Bunning's 3-1 lead. The Phils got much needed batting help from Rookie Gary Sutherland. "This kid hasn't got a swing," bubbled Mauch. "It's a stroke, a beautiful stroke."
Standings: Cin 17-8, Pitt 12-6, StL 12-9, Atl 12-9, Chi 10-9, Phil 10-10, SF 9-12, NY 8-13, LA 7-13, Hou 7-15
People are calling 34-year-old Reliever Ted Abernathy of the Cincinnati Reds (right) all the names they can think of, and that suits him just fine, for it is a tip-off that he is pitching well. One rival says he is "a combination Koufax-and-Mandrake-the-Magician." A teammate, alluding to Abernathy's underhand delivery, calls him Angleworm and explains, "He comes right up out of the ground with the ball." It wasn't always that way. Years ago, as a sophomore in high school and then again in 1957 when he was pitching for the Senators, Abernathy tore a shoulder muscle. In 1959 he underwent surgery, and when he got back into action he found he had to abandon his sidearm motion and resort to underhanded means to get the batters out. He struggled in four minor leagues before making it back to the majors with Cleveland in 1963. Sold to the Cubs in 1965, he pitched in 84 games (a major league record) and was acclaimed the best relief pitcher in baseball. But he flopped with the Cubs last year (6.11 ERA), was sent to the Braves and finally was picked up in the winter draft by the Reds. He seemed just about washed up. Cincinnati, desperate for pitching, was patient with him in spring training, and by last week Abernathy was again king of the bullpen. He appeared in 14 of the league-leading Reds' first 25 games and, aside from one shaky effort, pitched 22 innings in which he gave up just two earned runs and eight hits. He saved nine games, two in a row last week. If he keeps up that pace, he will certainly regain the title he won in 1965 and which he covets beyond all others: Fireman of the Year.