"I've been a regular starter for six years and I'd like to remain one," said Lefty Chris Short after he was demoted to the PHILADELPHIA (4-3) bullpen. Short quickly got his chance to prove he had been wronged. Given a starting assignment because the Phillies were scheduled for consecutive double-headers, he pitched a two-hit win and received a big assist from slumping slugger Richie Allen, who had been demoted, too—to the bench for three games. Back as a starter, Allen supported Short's pitching with two homers, good for all three Phillies' runs. LOS ANGELES (4-2) climbed out of the cellar as Bill Singer, Claude Osteen and Don Sutton threw shutouts and Tom Haller knocked in the deciding run in two straight games. Locked in a tight battle with SAN FRANCISCO (2-4) for second place, CINCINNATI (5-2) tried a new approach on the Giants' Gaylord Perry, who had beaten the Reds three times this year. Instead of harassing Perry with complaints about his alleged spitball, the Reds decided to be quiet with everything but their bats. It worked perfectly as Alex Johnson, Lee May, Tony Perez, Hal McRae and Leo Cardenas slammed consecutive extra-base hits and Cincinnati scored five times in one inning to defeat the Giant nemesis 6-3. NEW YORK (2-3) dropped to 10th for the first time since June before rookies Jim McAndrew and Jerry Koosman rescued the Mets at least temporarily with two shutout wins. "I've got to put on a rush to do it, but I think I can," said Henry Aaron of his hopes of batting .300 this year. Aaron's chances look good now even though he started slowly this season. A .355 hitter since July 6, the ATLANTA (3-3) star averaged .429 last week and raised his percentage for the year to .290. Playing its third straight .500 week, ST. LOUIS (3-3) still managed to clinch the pennant. The best performance was Nelson Briles' shutout over HOUSTON (2-5) for his 18th win. The Astros, matched up with the Mets and Dodgers in a struggle to avoid finishing last, received a boost from Fastballer Don Wilson, who struck out 16 while pitching a five-hitter. In PITTSBURGH (3-3), where the attendance is lower than in any year since 1955, only 273 people, including the ground crew and police, were still around at the end of a doubleheader to see Steve Blass pick up his sixth straight victory and his 15th of the year. CHICAGO (3-3) had hitting by Ernie Banks [below] and Billy Williams but little else to support good pitching. Ferguson Jenkins lost one game when the Cubs failed to score. Was Jenkins surprised? No. He has lost eight such games this year.
Standings: StL 93-58, SF 80-70, Cin 78-70 Chi 78-74, Atl 76-74, Pitt 73-76, Phil 71-79 LA 68-82, NY 67-84, Hou 67-84
September 22, 1968
While DETROIT (6-0) took the suspense out of the pennant race by moving within two victories of the flag (page 22), Yankee fans were still right on the edge of their seats as their team ran off a 10-game win streak. That is the most NEW YORK (7-0) has won in a row since 1964 and its record since early August is 32-12. Last week as the Yanks, who began their month-long surge in seventh place, moved up to third, Horace Clark led the hitters with a .355 average and five starters put together back-to-back complete-game victories. CLEVELAND (5-1) was one team overtaken by the Yankees despite a strong performance by its hitters, who averaged 32 points over their season's pace, and Luis Tiant's 20th win of the year. BALTIMORE (3-4) made the motions but obviously conceded the pennant as it tested newcomers up from the farm system. One choice find was Merv Rettenmund, a brawny, 195-pound outfielder who led the International League with a .331 average this season and in his first week batted .357. OAKLAND'S (2-4) Danny Cater and BOSTON'S (2-4) Carl Yastrzemski, who both began the week with .289 percentages, met in California. Yaz quickly made a runaway of the head-to-head battle for the batting title by stroking nine hits in three games, raising his average to .300 for the first time since the All-Star break. WASHINGTON'S (2-6) Frank Howard all but wrapped up the home run championship by clouting three to bring his season's total to 42, which also tied the Senators' club record. CALIFORNIA (2-4) failed both at the plate and on the mound. The batters scored just 14 runs and needed two unearned scores to take one of their wins while the opposition wore out 24 Angel pitchers for 28 runs. With the No. 1 power hitter, Pete Ward, averaging only .118, it was not surprising that CHICAGO (1-5) set a new record for losing one-run decisions. The White Sox have lost 42 games by one run while winning only 27 squeakers. Aside from Dave Boswell's three-hit win over the Red Sox, MINNESOTA (2-4) had just one thing to cheer about, a rare around-the-horn triple play pulled off against the Indians' slow-running Tony Horton. The fielding spectacular was small consolation though, because Horton had already clouted a homer and a triple in the same game.
Standings: Det 96-54, Balt 86-65, NY 80-70, Clev 81-72, Bos 79-71, Oak 76-75, Minn 71-79, Cal 65-86, Chi 62-89, Wash 58-93
At the start of each of his three seasons as Cub manager, Leo Durocher has tried to replace Ernie Banks at first base. "I've retired him three years in a row," says Leo, "but I guess he just gets tired of seeing those young kids I keep putting in his place." That must be the only way Banks gets tired because at 37 he is hitting with the same kind of youthful power that twice made him the National League's Most Valuable Player. Last week the slender, 15-year veteran slammed his 31st and 32nd homers of the season. In doing so, he set an unusual pattern for modern stars. While it is true that Tris Speaker hit .389 when he was 37 and Babe Ruth clouted 41 home runs and collected 137 RBIs at the same age, neither Willie Mays, at 37, nor Mickey Mantle, at 36, was a shadow of his old self, even as Banks set about hitting more homers than he had in six years. The quiet Texan, who now has hit 474 home runs, points out that his top physical condition—he weighs less now than he did 10 years ago—and a smoother swing that he perfected this year have helped sustain his power. The Cubs are glad he has kept it. Because of the hitting of Banks and teammate Billy Williams, who has belted 22 home runs since the All-Star break and last week took over the league lead in RBIs (97), Chicago has been able to rebound from a poor start. On July 12 the Cubs were in ninth place, but since then they have moved up to fourth and beat the first-place Cardinals' record over that stretch. Already Banks is looking forward to next season. Not only does he expect to be on a pennant contender. Once Durocher finishes trying out his young pretenders, Banks expects to be back at first, chasing after his 500th homer.