St. Louis (6-2) was in a league of its own. "Everybody has a chance for second place except the Cardinals," conceded Pirate General Manager Joe Brown, while St. Louis Broadcaster Harry Caray started echoing the magic number with 67 games still to play, and the Cards calmly stretched their lead to 12½ games. Everything worked. Lou Brock, given a brief rest, pinch-hit for Orlando Cepeda in one game and singled to spark a ninth-inning rally. But the main heroics were provided by Mike Shannon (.375 and seven RBIs) and Bob Gibson, who fired his 8th shutout in his last 10 starts. Shutouts remained rare for CINCINNATI (3-2), which hasn't even had a complete game since June 29, but the Reds hit .280 and moved to third as Pete Rose returned to the lineup after a long injury layoff. "I've never lost a game on my birthday," chirped Leo Durocher after CHICAGO (5-2) celebrated his 62nd with a 13-strikeout victory from Ferguson Jenkins. Cub pitchers gave up less than two runs per game as Ken Holtzman hurled two shutouts, NEW YORK's (4-3) Jerry Koosman fanned the Reds' John Bench three times in a direct confrontation of the league's top rookies. Koosman, posting his 14th victory and sixth shutout, claimed Bench hit .600 against him in the International League last year. After doctors in Los Angeles had diagnosed his knee problem as arthritis, SAN FRANCISCO's (3-3) Willie McCovey flew back just in time for a night game at Candlestick Park and belted a game-winning homer. Don Wilson, informed five years ago that he didn't throw hard enough to make the majors, was inviting comparisons with Sandy Koufax after his three-hit effort moved HOUSTON (3-3) closer to ninth place. Dave Giusti claimed his first victory since May 22 and the Astros advanced on LOS ANGELES (2-5), which batted .192 and was blanked three times. PHILADELPHIA (2-6) also had reason to moan. The Phils apparently had a 4-2 victory when Catcher Clay Dalrymple made like Mickey Owen and dropped a two-out ninth-inning third strike against the Braves. ATLANTA (4-4) rallied to win on Henry Aaron's homer, but often had trouble keeping up with its Johnsons. Utility Infielder Bob Johnson stopped a five-game losing streak with a 10th-inning single, and Deron Johnson's double provided the Braves' first extra base hit in 31 innings, but the team dropped further behind the Cards. With Bob Clemente, Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley still nursing injuries, PITTSBURGH (2-4) gained little solace from reactivated vet Bill Virdon's pinch HR.
Standings: StL 67-36, Atl 54-48, Cin 49-47, SF 51-50, Chi 52-51, Phil 48-51, NY 49-55, Pitt 47-53, LA 45-57, Hou 44-58
August 4, 1968
Charles Finley came up with a new noise-maker for his OAKLAND (5-1) kiddie corps and, indeed, the A's were something to make noise about. The latest Finley gadget—a train bell in center field which is to be rung loudly for homers and mildly for extra base hits—received a surprising Sunday workout from Pitcher Jim Nash, who belted a fifth-inning homer and won his second game of the week. The A's surged two notches to fifth as Sal Bando and league batting leader Rick Monday both hit .428. BOSTON (3-2) veterans were lauding a game-ending catch by Reggie Smith as the greatest ever after the Red Sox center fielder "draped over the fence at my waist" and reached four feet into the Red Sox bullpen to save a home run. Slumping Ken Harrelson cheered the Sox, too, clouting a winning homer after an 0-for-9 siege. Denny McLain became the first pitcher in 37 years to win 20 games before August and DETROIT (4-2) took two of three games from second-place BALTIMORE (3-3). While the Orioles searched for a slogan to inspire their club, Dave McNally salvaged the Tiger series with a three-hitter (see page 12). CHICAGO (3-3) scored just seven runs, batted .180 and lost Manager Al Lopez for a month to an appendicitis attack. But stout relief work from Hoyt Wilhelm—who passed Cy Young's record and had appeared in 909 games by the end of the week—and Wilbur Wood contributed to a series sweep over CALIFORNIA (2-5). Only Aurelio Rodriguez (.500 BA), third-base replacement for the injured Paul Schaal, was producing for the Angels, who fell to eighth place, NEW YORK (3-3) got three homers from Tom Tresh, one a grand-slammer that beat the Indians, and complete-game wins from Stan Bahnsen and Mel Stottlemyre before dropping the last two games to CLEVELAND (3-4). The Indians still could not find runs for Sam McDowell. They have scored two or less in 16 of his 22 starts, and McDowell suffered his ninth defeat despite a 1.73 ERA. Errors continued to plague MINNESOTA (3-4). Although the Twins whacked 43 hits during one three-game span, Bob Allison booted one game with a throwing error and three more miscues proved disastrous in another. WASHINGTON (2-4) remained nine games deep in the cellar, but Dennis Higgins did preserve a rare victory with 3‚Öì hitless innings in relief, and Ken McMullen and sub Hank Allen batted the Senators to another win.
Standings: Det 63-38, Balt 55-43, Clev 57-46, Bos 51-46, Oak 50-50, Minn 48-52, NY 46-51, Cal 47-53, Chi 43-54, Wash 35-62
Unless Montreal's new National League franchise can find replacements for two former backers, sign a stadium lease and make a down payment to the league by August 15, the team may shift abruptly to Milwaukee or Buffalo. Luckily for baseball, the other three expansion clubs are alive and progressing in Kansas City, Seattle and San Diego. The neophytes, slated to begin operations next year under six-team divisional setups, are earnestly hustling for talent and bantering about such familiar managerial possibilities as Hank Bauer, Joe Adcock and Gene Mauch. One rumor even has $100,000 Dodger ace Don Drysdale heading for San Diego as a $20,000 pitching coach and reuniting with Buzzie Bavasi, who defected to baseball's fifth West Coast entry as co-owner in May. The NL team didn't look far for its nickname (Padres), general manager (Eddie Leishman) or possible field manager (Preston Gomez). All have been associated with the city's minor league club. The American League newcomers are paying less for the privilege—by some $5 million—and enjoying quicker success than their later NL counterparts. The Kansas City Royals, who selected 56 players in the free-agent draft, already have three minor league affiliates, a $3 million radio-TV pact and spring-training facilities. Cedris Tallis, an Angels' exec since that club began, moved to the Royals and set up elaborate personnel and scouting systems. Another former Angel, Marvin Milkes, is general manager of the Seattle Pilots, which have signed all 30 of their draft selections and anxiously await mid-October, when all four teams will pay outrageous prices to pluck 30 players apiece from the major league's expansion draft.