For the first time since the Mephistophelian Mr. Applegate of Damn Yankees oiled his way across a Broadway stage, the Senators are winning. But this time Washington (6-1) is doing it with honest hitting, pitching and expert managing by Ted Williams. Said Dick Bosman, a reliever who pitched a one-hitter last week when Williams gave him a chance to start: "I've never felt this way about baseball before, not until Williams came along and instilled this competitive spirit in us. We really do believe we can beat anyone." Off to their best start in 17 years, the Senators were beating just about everybody. And Williams' con job has worked on some of the team's weakest players from last season. Shortstop Ed Brinkman, who hit under .200 three of the past four years, averaged .363 last week, raising his season's mark to .267. Relievers Bosman, Casey Cox, Dennis Higgins, Bob Humphreys and Dave Baldwin, who combined for a 10-14 record in 1968, came in from the bullpen last week to allow just two earned runs in 16‚Öî innings. The Senators' drive left them behind only one team, Baltimore (6-1). The Orioles' pitching, led by Dave McNally, who won twice to run his season's record to 5-0, has been so strong that fans in other cities are already bitter. After lefthander Mike Cuellar, who threw a four-hit victory, signed an autograph for a Yankees rooter, the fan said, "Thanks for the autograph and have a good year, you lousy bum." Boston (4-3) fans have not been discouraged by their team's slump to third place or the controversial trade of Ken Harrelson. The biggest crowd since 1956 showed up at Fenway Park to watch one game, and Sonny Siebert, who came to the Red Sox in the Harrelson deal, received a standing ovation for a five-hit, 8‚Öî-inning performance. But the biggest cheers were reserved for Carl Yastrzemski, who broke out of a slump with two 400-foot homers and a booming double in that game. Detroit (2-5), with only Denny McLain pitching well, fell seven games out of first place even though Manager Mayo Smith used his 30-game winner in relief to try to halt the skid. Cleveland (2-3) won its second and third games of the year by beating the Yankees twice. One Indians win came on a three-hit, 12-strikeout effort by Sam McDowell. With the hitters slumping—.171 average with 12 runs scored—New York won only when Fritz Peterson shut out the Red Sox 1-0 on three hits. Minnesota (6-0) ran its winning streak to eight straight and its Western Division lead to 2½ games by outscoring its opposition 29-8. The batters averaged .299 to increase their season leading mark to .294, while righthander Jim Perry picked up two victories, including a shutout. Oakland's (4-2) Danny Cater, who was a surprise second-place finisher in the batting race last season, looks like a strong challenger again this year. He ran his consecutive game hitting streak to 14 with two game-winning singles and now averages .360. Followers of Kansas City (5-3), talking enthusiastically about their expansion team's chances for the division championship, point to one accomplishment that makes them sound like winners. With 3-2, 3-2 and 5-4 victories last week, they increased their record in one-run games to eight of nine. The Royals have also won seven home games in their last turn at bat. California (2-5) Manager Bill Rigney shifted regular catcher Tom Satriano to first base to get rookie Tom Egan into the lineup. The brainstorm paid off in the first game as Egan slammed a homer and Satriano went 2-for-3 and drove in the winning run of a 10-inning, 3-2 victory over the Royals. Marty Pattin's two wins, one a two-hit, 1-0 victory, gave Seattle (2-5) its only wins. Chicago's (0-4) Al Lopez, who has been a manager in the majors for all but two years since 1951, retired because of a recurring stomach ailment. His replacement is Don Gutteridge, a six-time minor league manager who has been a member of Lopez's corps of coaches for years.
Standings—East: Balt 20-8, Wash 16-11, Bos 14-10, Det 11-13, NY 11-15, Cle 3-18. West: Minn 16-7, Oak 14-10, KC 13-11, Chi 8-11, Cal 8-13, Sea 8-15.
May 11, 1969
Hearing that the World Champion Tigers would play an exhibition game with the Phillies soon after Chicago (4-3) finished a series at Connie Mack Stadium, the Cubs wrote on the clubhouse blackboard, "See you in the World Series—if you can make it." The players were not the only Chicagoans with a touch of premature Series fever. Hundreds of their fans welcomed the team, leader in the Eastern Division since Opening Day, back from a road trip in the early hours of the morning. The Cubs' front office has received up to 600 phone calls an hour and 2,000 letters a day, many of them requesting Series tickets. Their pitching staff, supposedly the weak spot, has been mainly responsible for the excitement. While the usually strong hitters slumped to fifth in the league, the pitchers—led by Starter Fergie Jenkins, who won his fourth game last week, and Reliever Phil Regan, who took his fifth—held the top spot in ERA (2.58), complete games (9) and shutouts (5). Pittsburgh (3-4) stayed close behind the Cubs on strong, complete-game victories by Jim Bunning and Dock Ellis. Bunning, whose five-hitter was his first nine-inning game since last June, has given the Pirates a much tougher look with three straight strong starting performances. Philadelphia's (4-2) oft delinquent slugger Richie Allen was on his own again. He failed to show up for two games in St. Louis (3-4), was fined $1,000 and said, "I told them to trade me last winter. They had their chance and I don't feel sorry for them." The Cards, now in serious trouble after losing 11 home games, were not feeling sorry for them either after the Phils' Jerry Johnson and Rick Wise beat them. The losses, which dropped the Cardinals 7 games out of first, prophesied a debacle. New York's (4-3) young pitching stars were not merely disappointing, they were disappearing. Three of the best, Jerry Koosman, Jim McAndrew and Nolan Ryan, were all injured. Montreal (2-4) was a new team with something old to cheer for. The Expos signed 41-year-old Elroy Face last week and the reliever promptly picked up his team's only wins with 4‚Öì innings of one-hit pitching. Strong relieving also stirred up the biggest excitement in Atlanta (6-1) since the Braves moved there from Milwaukee. Bullpen aces Jim Britton and Cecil Upshaw threw six scoreless innings and picked up two wins that moved their team back into first place in the Western Division. Los Angeles (3-4) switched from the Big D to a new D. With longtime ace Don Drysdale considering retirement because of a sore arm, Don Sutton, a 24-year-old right-handed breaking-ball specialist, was taking over Drysdale's act. He pitched a one-hit shutout last week to run his scoreless innings streak to 25. San Francisco (3-4) moved briefly into sole possession of first place on Juan Marichal's two-hitter and some clutch hitting by young Outfielder Bobby Bonds. Bonds cracked a pair of homers, scored five runs and hit a game-winning, 13th-inning single in two one-run victories. But then the Giants went into a three-game losing streak, batted just .167 and fell from grace. San Diego (3-5), which had averaged just .211, broke out with 13 hits in two games against the Reds, won both and moved into fourth place. The big hitters were Al Ferrara and Ollie Brown, both with grand slam homers. Ferrara's came as a pinch hit and moved his team into the lead from a three-run deficit. Brown's slam keyed a nine-run first inning of a 13-5 Padres victory. Houston's (4-3) Don Wilson's no-hitter (left) opened a four-game Astros win streak. Jim Wynn won one game with two home runs and rookie Catcher Don Bryant put his team ahead in another with his first big league homer. Cincinnati (3-5) was beating itself. The Reds committed 11 errors and allowed 10 unearned runs. But the pitchers had little room to complain about poor support in the field. They threw eight wild pitches and hit four opposing batters.
Standings—East: Chi 18-9, Pitt 15-10, Phil 11-11, NY 11-14, StL 10-15, Mont 9-15. West: Atl 17-8, LA 15-10, SF 15-10, Cin 11-14, SD 12-16, Hou 8-20.
All of the Astros, particularly Pitcher Don Wilson, were fuming when they arrived in Cincinnati for a two-game series last week. Houston had lost 14 of its last 15 games and the Reds had socked the Astros for two of their worst defeats. In one of them, a 14-0 thrashing of Wilson, Cincinnati players had called the Astros bushers, stuck their tongues out at them and, claimed Wilson, pulled unnecessarily daring plays to run up an embarrassing score. Worse yet was the series opener on Wednesday. Striking out 12, Reds ace Jim Maloney stoked the Astros' frustrations by no-hitting them 10-0. It was his second no-hitter, but all Houston Manager Harry Walker could attribute to the righthander was a beautiful, illegal greaseball. A Kentucky fortune-teller was less flattering about the Astros. Jim Wynn and Curt Blefary crossed the Ohio to see her and, according to Blefary, were short-shrifted because of their team's abysmal record. That, apparently, was all Wilson needed. The erratic 24-year-old fastballer matched Maloney by pitching his second no-hit game and defeated the Reds 4-0. Only once before had no-hitters been pitched on successive days (the Giants against the Cardinals last year), but when his teammates ran to the mound to congratulate Wilson, they had to restrain him from charging the Cincy bench. Ringing in his ears were the sideline catcalls—the gentlest of them was "gutless"—of Reds Manager Dave Bristol. "I've never seen a guy more psyched up or madder than Wilson," said Walker. Which should be a lesson for Bristol. Wilson's record was under .500 and his ERA 28th in the National League. But he could bite when he had a mind to.