Chicago (7-1) continued its implausible climb and tied for first place. Before a game against the Reds in Wrigley Field, Ron Santo said, "This is a great day for home runs. It's hot, the air is muggy, and I'm going to uppercut every swing I take. All I want to do is get the ball up in the air and watch it sail out of here." Santo watched two balls sail out of there that day, giving him four homers for the week. ST. LOUIS (3-5) pitching was racked up for 27 runs in three losses to the Giants, and then the Cardinals frittered away the rest of their lead (they were in first place by 3½ games at the start of the week) by committing a series of costly errors against the Mets. The Cardinals were missing three players—Tim Mc-Carver, Bob Tolan and Alex Johnson—who had to return to St. Louis to attend Reserve meetings. CINCINNATI (1-6) tried a little of everything, but its only win came when the Reds backed Milt Pappas' five-hit pitching with 18 hits to beat the Dodgers 14-0. Mel Queen, suffering from acute indigestion, resorted to taking pills as well as gulps of air from an oxygen tank between innings, yet lost to the Dodgers 3-0. Chico Ruiz spent $31 for a pair of custom-made alligator spikes. They were no help; a grounder went through his legs and allowed the Dodgers to beat the Reds 7-5. In all, LOS ANGELES (4-3) took four of five games from the Reds, with Claude Osteen, who later won for the 11th time, and Don Sutton pitching shutouts. ATLANTA (2-2) had a bad week. The Braves led the Astros 5-1, but the game was rained out before the required number of innings could be played; the day before even Denis Menke's homer off Dave Giusti of the Astros apparently helped the Braves lose rather than win. Explained HOUSTON (3-2) Manager Grady Hatton: "After Menke's homer, Dave came in the dugout and kicked things around, and after that he pitched pretty good." Good enough to beat the Braves 4-2. General Manager Joe Brown of PITTSBURGH (1-6) called a clubhouse meeting and told his men, "If we don't win the pennant it won't be because we've been mismanaged. We will place the blame on 25 players who wouldn't pay the price." But Manager Harry Walker had to blame himself for a loss to the Mets in which he inadvertently let two of his players bat out of turn, NEW YORK (4-4) Manager Wes Westrum pointed out the mistake to the umpires, and Jose Pagan's two-run double, which had seemingly put the Pirates in front 5-4, was nullified. PHILADELPHIA (5-3) and SAN FRANCISCO (5-3) amassed 48 runs as they split a four-game series. But the offensive highlight of the week was the Giants' 11-run first inning against the Cardinals.
Standings: Chi 45-29, StL 45-29, Cin 43-35, SF 41-36, Atl 38-36, Pitt 36-36, Phil 36-38, LA 33-42, Hou 29-47, NY 27-45
July 9, 1967
Second Baseman Al Weis of CHICAGO (4-3) was lost, probably for the season, when he suffered a torn cartilage in his knee in a collision with Frank Robinson of the Orioles (Robinson suffered a brain concussion and double vision and was sidelined, too). But Wayne Causey, Weis's replacement, beat the Orioles 3-2 with a three-run homer and, despite a lengthy injury list, the first-place White Sox, in the middle of an 18-game sequence against the Twins, Tigers and Orioles, opened up their biggest lead of the season. DETROIT (3-3) lost both Al Kaline (broken hand) and Gates Brown (dislocated wrist) and was as close to eighth place as to first. Brown was hurt trying to make a catch, Kaline when he angrily slammed his bat into the bat rack. "That," said a chagrined Kaline, "is the dumbest thing I've ever done." Home runs by Tony Conigliaro enabled BOSTON (4-2) to win three games, but MINNESOTA (5-1) stopped the Red Sox 2-1 and 3-2 on tie-breaking hits by Cesar Tovar and Ted Uhlaender. Tovar, who played center field and third base last week, has played second, third, short and all three outfield spots this season. Tight pitching by Jim Kaat (two wins, one a shutout) and Dave Boswell carried the Twins to victories when their bats did not. CLEVELAND (4-3) owed three of its victories to scoreless relief work by George Culver and John O'Donoghue, plus a three-run pinch-hit homer by Fred Whitfield. CALIFORNIA (4-2), with Reliever Minnie Rojas (below) winning one game and saving two more, edged toward the first division. Said Gil Hodges of WASHINGTON (1-5) after a 4-3 loss to the Angels and Pitcher Jack Hamilton: "I have never seen a pitcher use the spitball so flagrantly with nothing done about it." Home runs continued to be the undoing of Jim Nash of KANSAS CITY (2-5), who gave up two of them as he lost for the seventh time. Nash, 12-1 last season, gave up only six homers in 127 innings then, but this year has already given up 14 in 113 innings. BALTIMORE (3-5) lost three one-run games and briefly fell into eighth place behind NEW YORK (3-4). Yankee hitting was still a thing of the past. The team batting average sank to .215, the lowest in either league and only three points above the alltime modern major league low set by the White Sox in 1910.
Standings: Chi 43-29, Bos 39-34, Del 39-34, Minn 39-34 Cleve 38-37, Cal 39-39, Balt 35-39, NY 34-39, KC 34-43, Wash 32-44
It is understandable that when Bill Rigney, the manager of the California Angels, speaks of Relief Pitcher Minnie Rojas he does so in superlatives. Rigney claims that Rojas "has been just about perfect" and says unabashedly that in his 12 years as a manager, "I've never had a reliever who could throw strikes better." A month ago the Angels were in last place and about all that Rigney had going for him was a tenuous vote of confidence from a disenchanted front office. Last year the Angels finished a promising sixth and, hoping to move up even higher in the standings, traded Dean Chance to the Twins for Don Mincher and Jimmie Hall. Chance became the early pitching sensation of the league, and not even a flurry of homers by Mincher could placate Angel fans. Barely 14,000 showed up for a "big" double-header against the Orioles. That might have been a blessing, for the last place Angels lost 16-4 and 11-1. Then, as if borrowing some magic from nearby Disneyland, the Angels began winning. They won 19 of their next 26 games, reached .500 and were only 2½ games out of second place. No one contributed more during this upward climb than Minnie Rojas. He was called on to relieve 14 times, gave up 11 hits in 26‚Öî innings, had an ERA of 0.31, won four games and saved eight others. These accomplishments have been gratifying for Minervino Alejandro Rojas, who at 20 was a soldier in the Cuban army, at 26 was toiling in the Mexican League and now, at 28, is the most effective reliever in baseball. Although soft-spoken Minnie says little, Rigney, still gainfully employed, is always ready to serve as his spokesman.