In this era of the draft dodger, HOUSTON'S (5-3) Doug Rader must be a source of pride to his Army Reserve unit. The 24-year-old could hardly wait to catch a flight home for a brief hitch. After all, the military couldn't be more threatening than his last week in New York. Rader, who precipitated a brawl in an earlier series against the Mets, received more than 40 threatening letters from irate fans, "talking about guns and knives and getting me at the hotel." Teammate Rusty Staub, whose red hair resembles Rader's, even pasted his own name on the back of his uniform, explaining, "I don't want them to get the wrong guy." Rader left for the Army, and the only major eruption came from the Astros themselves, who moved into ninth place behind Don Wilson's two shutouts and home runs in four consecutive games by Jim Wynn. Injuries proved a blessing in disguise for CINCINNATI (6-1). Mack Jones, Fred Whitfield and Pat Corrales—all filling in for regulars—drove in 16 runs as the Reds moved back into third place. The team averaged a rousing .348 and made Tony Cloninger's first shutout in two years look easy. Predictably, SAN FRANCISCO'S (4-2) Juan Marichal won two more games. Amazingly, he finished just one of them. When Marichal left after five innings against the Phils, it marked only the second time in his last 99 victories, dating back to 1964, that he did not complete a winning effort. All of a sudden ATLANTA (3-3) found ST. LOUIS (3-4) was not invincible. Big pitching jobs from Pat Jarvis and Milt Pappas—who beat the Cards for the first time and now has defeated every team in baseball—meant two victories. The Cards finally were hit by injuries as Curt Flood, Johnny Edwards and Julian Javier all came up ailing. Nobody felt the hitting famine harder than NEW YORK (3-3) rookie Jim McAndrews, who naturally hails from Lost Nation, Iowa. Though his earned-run mark fell below 2.00, he lost his fourth straight game. The Mets have yet to score a run for him in 24 2/3 innings. CHICAGO (2-6) fans poured in at 30,000 per game during one series, but the Cubs then fell victim to two shutouts and lost six in a row. PITTSBURGH (3-3) won one game on Chris Cannizzaro's first major league homer but quaked when Roberto Clemente announced he would retire unless his shoulder ailment healed. Don Lock's grand slam homer provided the only lift for slumping PHILADELPHIA (3-4), while LOS ANGELES (1-4), third in mid-June, descended into the cellar.
Standings: StL 79-45, Cin 63-56, SF 64-58, Atl 63-60, Chi 64-61, Pitt 59-64, Phil 56-65, NY 57-69, Hou 56-69, LA 54-68
August 25, 1968
It was the 11th inning and DETROIT (4-2), having blown a seven-run lead, was struggling to hang on against the Red Sox. Bill Freehan, who had needed a dozen salt tablets, two quarts of orange juice and three shirt changes just to stay in the game, was due up. He ambled to the plate, 12 pounds lighter than he was in the first inning, and promptly laced a two-out home run into Fenway Park's left-field screen. It was a typical Tiger finish—the 31st time the team had rallied to win after the seventh inning. A .385, nine RBI week from Norm Cash helped, too, to keep Detroit safely atop the league. Everything came in threes for NEW YORK (6-1). The Yankees came up with a three-run ninth, a three-run first and a three-run homer by Andy Kosco, and they amounted to three victories. Also buoying the Yankees was Al Downing, sore armer most of the season at Binghamton, who pitched seven strong innings. Though Mike Andrews (.433) sparked the BOSTON (5-3) attack, two pitchers also got in some licks. Ray Culp singled home the winning run in a 2-1 victory, and Juan Pizarro's suicide squeeze won a game against the Tigers. Don Buford scored nine of BALTIMORE'S (5-3) 32 runs as the Orioles stayed within range of first place. Their most unlikely hero was Paul Blair, who entered one game as a pinch runner and scored the tying run, then doubled home the clinchers the next inning after tripping over first base. WASHINGTON (3-4) moved to within five games of ninth as veteran Camilo Pascual won his 11th game. CLEVELAND (3-4) claimed three one-run decisions, including a three-hitter by Sonny Siebert. That was possible, of course, only when Jose Cardenal, the team's own mystic, burned his necktie to shake the seven-game losing streak. The one bright spot for CALIFORNIA (3-4) was the sudden ability of Tom Satriano to produce runs. An Oriole buddy, Don Buford, gave Satriano one of his extra bats, and the result was nine RBIs in five games. MINNESOTA'S (3-5) Jim Kaat moved ever closer to winning a steak dinner from pitching mate Dean Chance. Whoever bats higher wins. With a game-winning, bases-loaded double, Kaat now is hitting .143. Chance stands at .060. Campy Campaneris (.308), hitting in his 15th straight game, has helped OAKLAND (2-5) match its 1967 victory total. In contrast, CHICAGO (3-6), using more than three pitchers per game, sank 27 games from first, lowest ebb in 18 years.
Standings: Det 78-44, Balt 71-51, Bos 67-57, Clev 66-60, Oak 62-60, NY 57-61, Minn 57-64, Cal 56-67, Chi 51-71, Wash 45-75
Except for those who operate from a rectangular slab of white rubber in mid-diamond, it has been—as everybody knows by now—a sparse season for baseball. And any farsighted hopes of filling the batting void must go farther than the current rookie crop. None of the first-year men excites memories of a young Mantle or Mays and, in fact, 19 of the 32 who have seen extended action are pitchers. The best of the lot is the Mets' Jerry Koosman, a 25-year-old from Appleton, Minn. with a 16-7 record, 1.87 earned run average and six shutouts—one short of the National League rookie record. Then there are the Yankees' Stan Bahnsen (2.13 ERA), the Angels' Tom Murphy (2.17), Pittsburgh's Bob Moose (2.41) and Cleveland Reliever Vicente Romo (1.58). So much for those who emulate their elders. The only batting upstart is Cincinnati Catcher John Bench, a 20-year-old who ranks among the team leaders in three categories for the league's best hitting squad. In spring training, Reds' Manager Dave Bristol indicated Bench would be a big asset if he hit .220. He is now at .275 with 61 RBIs and drawing raves from people like Cardinal Manager Red Schoendienst, who says, "I've never seen a better catcher." After Bench, it is a long drop to Giant speedster Bobby Bonds (.252), hailed as Willie Mays' successor in center; Washington's Del Unser (.239); Houston's Hector Torres (.231) and Baltimore's Elrod Hendricks (.227). At least Unser and Torres have some consolation—both are hitting better than they did in the minors. For the fans, there is also a glimmer of hope. Of the first 20 selections in the June free-agent draft, 11 were outfielders and only four were partial to that rectangular white slab.