There was a certain madcap quality about the ever-tightening pennant race, something that the American League has lacked for years. Why, there was even pennant fever in WASHINGTON (5-3), where Paul Casanova proclaimed, "We will win the pennant. Look at these guys, they know how to win." Winners in Washington? Yes, indeed. The Senators ran their winning streak to eight in a row—their longest in 18 years—before losing. Then, instead of retreating to the losing tradition they have worked so hard to build in recent decades, they won four of their next five games and hoisted themselves into sixth place. For each ounce of happiness in the stampede for first place there was a pound of anger. After CHICAGO (3-3) lost twice to CALIFORNIA (6-0), White Sox Manager Eddie Stanky stomped out of the clubhouse and left the radio blaring so that his players could hear the Angels" triumphant postgame show. They heard an interview with former teammate Bill Skowron, who had just helped beat them. Skowron said that his hit had been particularly gratifying because it had come against Gary Peters. He added, "I had to listen to a lot of his garbage for the last two and a half years about how I couldn't hit him when I was with the Yankees." Hoyt Wilhelm of the White Sox gave up his first runs in a 25-inning span that covered 14 relief jobs and six weeks. Jim Lonborg of BOSTON (7-0) became the biggest winner in the majors with his 14th victory. Carl Yastrzemski, exercising his newfound art of pulling the ball, brought his homer total to 24 and his average to .325. MINNESOTA (0-6) climbed to within half a game of first place, then stopped hitting. The Twins batted .187 for the week and skidded to fifth place, but fifth was only 3½ games from first. The walking wounded in DETROIT (5-3) bit the bullet and started winning. Willie Horton (bad foot), Dick McAuliffe (stomach trouble), Don Wert (hit on the hip and mouth by pitches) and Norm Cash (hit on the ankle) all homered. Sam McDowell of CLEVELAND (2-5) shut out the Yankees, but three other starters—Sonny Siebert, Steve Hargan and Luis Tiant—lagged behind. The usually good pitching of KANSAS CITY (3-3) failed, but for a change the A's did some hitting, producing 27 runs in four games, NEW YORK (1-6), which has nine of 11 regulars hitting .236 or less, went 22 innings without scoring. Things were so bad in BALTIMORE (2-5) that fans were booing the Orioles" recording of "Charge!"
Standings: Chi 53-40, Bos 52-40, Cal 53-44, Det 50-43, Minn 49-43, Wash 46-50, Clev 44-51, Balt 43-51, NY 40-53 KC 40-55
Chicago (6-2) fans were excited enough to show up as much as five hours before game time, hopeful enough to paint a bull's-eye for Adolfo Phillips to aim his home-run swing at and sympathetic enough to lower a tasty—albeit novel—treat over the center-field wall to Willie Mays of the Giants: chicken-in-the-bucket. Ron Santo, who hit .516 last week, was as responsible as anyone for this enthusiasm and for the rise of the Cubs. On June 2 he was hitting .225, and the Cubs were 22-21. Since then Santo has hit .376, and the Cubs have won 33 of 52 games. ST. LOUIS (5-3) had to struggle to stay a game up on the Cubs. The Cardinals did it by beating the Braves twice on the strength of clutch hits by Julian Javier and Dal Maxvill and the tight pitching of Steve Carlton and Hal Woodeshick. ATLANTA (4-4) got fine pitching from Pat Jarvis, who won his 10th game, and from Phil Niekro, who brought his ERA down to 1.54, the best in the majors. Joe Torre summed up a vital transition in the club's personality by saying, "Suddenly it's like I'm on a different team. We have a champion's spirit, and it's the first time since I've been with the Braves that we've had it." SAN FRANCISCO (3-6), too, seemed like a different team, with Mays slowed down by the flu and with Juan Marichal out with arm trouble. When it came to transformations, though, it was hard to beat PITTSBURGH (5-4). The Pirates began scoring runs as soon as Danny Murtaugh replaced Harry Walker as manager. They started off with eight runs against the Giants, then reached a crescendo by twice getting 15 against HOUSTON (2-6). The Astros, who have the leading hitter in the majors (Rusty Staub, .358) and the RBI leader (Jim Wynn, 75), hired Walker as batting coach. Rick Wise of PHILADELPHIA (4-4) won twice, Bobby Wine hit his first homer in nearly two years and the Phillies, with the help of inept fielding by LOS ANGELES (4-3), scored three runs on a bunt. The Dodgers had to beat back oncoming NEW YORK (4-4) to retain eighth place. Reliever Hal Reniff of the Mets set a team record by building his scoreless-inning streak to 19 since being obtained from the Yankees. The latest casualty in CINCINNATI (3-4) was Gary Nolan. He had a 2-0 lead over the Cardinals in the seventh and had not allowed an earned run in 33 innings when he came down with an aching arm. The Reds committed 11 errors last week and opponents stole 14 bases. "It's enough to make you sick," said Manager Dave Bristol, in his medically oriented language.
Standings: StL 56-39, Chi 55-40, Cin 52-45, Atl 49-43, SF 50-47, Pitt 47-45, Phil 45-46, LA 40-53, NY 38-54, Hou 38-58
During 15 years as a ballplayer George Brunet of the Angels has played for 20 teams in 15 states from New York to Hawaii. Now that he has seen America first, Brunet, 32, hopes that he can stay put in Anaheim. Seven weeks ago, though, it seemed that George, his record bogged down at 1-9, his ERA a kite-high 4.07, might be traveling back to the minors. Then Brunet began winning. Last week he beat the Twins 2-0 and 2-1, bringing his record to 9-12 and his ERA down to 3.27. His minor league days may be over, but they are not forgotten. "Lots of things happened," Brunet says. "Some I'd rather forget. Others are worth remembering. I quit during my first year because I got homesick. Then I changed my mind and played for the Seminole, Oklahoma team the next year. I started dating a girl there and kept going out with her because she had a car and I didn't. I finally married, and without her I wouldn't be in the majors now She's gone everywhere with me." Everywhere has included Abilene, Texas: Columbia, S.C.; Crowley, La.; Buffalo; Portland, Ore.; and other stopovers. "Every bus ride in the minors was a bad one," Brunet says. "In some clubhouses you had just a nail to hang your clothes on. In others two or three guys shared the same locker. A couple times I came home wearing some other guy's trousers." Now, with a locker of his own and with comfortable planes to jet him around the American League, Brunet is content. He has won so consistently in recent weeks, however, that the Angels are talking pennant. If they do win it, well-traveled George will gladly expand his itinerary to include a National League city in October.