Things were going so well for Eastern Division leader Chicago (4-2) that the Cubs were even turning minor misfortunes into victories. When Manager Leo Durocher was bedded down with a miserable cold recently, he watched his team on TV. The fans-eye view of the game convinced Durocher that the center field camera afforded him a far better view of pitches than he had from his dugout. Out of sick bay, he ordered a special cable run from the center-field camera to a monitor in his Wrigley Field office and had his starting pitcher of the next day sit there, rather than in the stands, to chart each pitch. Ferguson Jenkins and Dick Selma, the first two in his experiment, both shut out the Padres. Even on the road, where Durocher has yet to figure out how to get permission to use a center-field camera, Ken Holtzman beat the Astros 11-0. It was his second shutout in a row and ran his scoreless-inning streak to 25. Ernie Banks, advised by Batting Coach Pete Reiser that he was dropping his right shoulder, raised it and himself with two homers and seven RBIs in Selma's 19-0 win over the Padres. New York (3-2) also scored heavily, defeating the Braves 9-3 with eight runs in the eighth and drubbing the Reds 10-9 and 11-3. St. Louis (4-1) hitters continued to slump and the Cardinals became the lowest-scoring team in the league. In a game against the Padres, they had 13 base runners but hit into five double plays and lost 2-1. Payday, though, remained the team's magic day. For the 19th consecutive time—dating back to August 1967—the Cardinals won on payday, which comes twice a month. The team obviously should be paid less more often. "The Pirates are going to forget all about Pie Traynor," said Montreal's Gene Mauch of Richie Hebner, the rookie third baseman for Pittsburgh (1-5). Hebner, who wears Traynor's old No. 20, batted .409 last week and raised his average to .384. Rick Wise and Woody Fryman pitched back-to-back five-hitters for two Philadelphia (3-3) wins. Richie Allen hit three homers at Connie Mack Stadium, one clearing the left-field roof, another clattering against the light tower in left field and the third helping to beat the Giants 9-8. Montreal (0-4) did not win, but Expo fans still did a lot of cheering. Much of it was for one of their favorite sons, Reliever Claude Raymond of Atlanta (4-1). Raymond, who is from St. Jean, Quebec, admitted that "when I went to the mound in the 11th inning and the fans gave me that thunderous ovation I actually began to cry." He brushed back the tears long enough to gain his first win, thanks to Tito Francona's homer. Hank Aaron hit four home runs, Ron Reed won twice and the Braves built their lead in the West to 3 games over Los Angeles (3-2). Claude Osteen blanked the Pirates and Willie Crawford did them in 4-3 with a two-run homer in the ninth. Two fielding plays at opposite ends of the diamond also helped. One was a belly-flopping grab of a bunt a few feet in front of the plate by First Baseman Wes Parker, the other a wall-rattling catch by Centerfielder Willie Davis of a possible homer. Said Walter Alston: "Those were two of the most fantastic moves I've seen in years." Nineteen Cincinnati (2-3) pitchers trudged to the mound in five games and, worst of all, Jim Maloney was unable to finish either of his two starts because of injuries. Houston (4-1) got good pitching from Denny Lemaster (a five-hitter) and from Relievers John Billingham, who won his third game, and Fred Gladding, who saved his sixth. Ivan Murrell's pinch single in the ninth beat the Cardinals 2-1 for the lone win of the week for San Diego (1-5). Juan Marichal of San Francisco (3-3) returned after being sidelined for 10 days following an oversized sneeze that had mysteriously injured his left side. His three-hit, 3-0 win over the Pirates, though, was nothing to sneeze at. "I've never seen him faster and his curve crackled," said Manager Clyde King. "And his control? They could construct radar equipment with the stuff he has in his arm."
Standings—East: Chi 24-13, NY 17-18, Pitt 17-18, StL 16-19, Phil 15-18, Mont 11-21. West: Atl 24-10, LA 21-13, SF 20-15, Cin 15-19, SD 16-23, Hou 15-24.
May 25, 1969
Dorothy B. Hughes, president of the American Astrological Society and a resident of Seattle (4-2), was asked to cast a horoscope for Yankee Pitcher Mel Stottlemyre for the night of May 13. "Something fast and peculiar will happen to him at about 10 p.m.," she predicted. Shortly after 10 p.m. on May 13 Mike Hegan of the Pilots singled across a run that knocked Stottlemyre out of the game and helped Seattle win 5-3. More than 40,000 showed up for three games against the Yankees, prompting one Pilot executive to say, "I guess they don't know Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio are no longer with the team." Down the coast in Oakland (2-2), fan interest took a new twist. Spectators were cheering all right, but not for the A's who led the West by 1½ games. Their heroes were Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro of the Red Sox, their goats the A's. Said Second Baseman Dick Green: "It'll be nice to get out of town." In the first game out of town, Green homered and Blue Moon Odom (left) held the Indians to seven singles. Rod Carew of Minnesota (1-4) beat out two bunts and then hit an inside-the-park homer to down the Orioles 4-2. Four straight losses followed and the Twins tumbled out of first place. Kansas City (1-5, page 75) did not have enough muscle, got just two homers and dropped below .500. Gerry Nyman and Gary Peters of Chicago (3-4) each pitched a shutout, Nyman stopping the Senators on a one-hitter. California (2-5) batters hit a paltry .168, thus squandering some fine work by Angel pitchers. The Angels bottomed out against New York (5-2). Fritz Peterson, with help from Bobby Murcer's two-out, two-run double in the ninth, beat the Angels 2-1 and retired the final 19 men he faced. Stan Bahnsen of the Yankees came back the next day to put down the first 19 Angels—making it 38 in a row—and went on to win 6-0. Then the Yankees took a doubleheader 3-1 and 1-0 as Joe Pepitone drove in all the runs with his 10th and 11th homers of the season. Understandably, Manager Bill Rigney's ulcer acted up and he had to visit his doctor. Boston (2-3) sluggers hit eight home runs (three by Yastrzemski) but Red Sox pitchers gave up seven to the Pilots in 10-9 and 9-6 losses. One of Yastrzemski's drives was a grand slam, the 24th in the majors thus far this season. At this rate, last year's total of 38 should be surpassed and perhaps even the record of 77 in 1961. Mike Epstein of Washington (3-4) unloaded four homers, three of them in one game against the White Sox. In all, the Senators had five home runs in that contest against the Sox, yet lost 7-6. Epstein later helped sweep a doubleheader from the White Sox with a game-winning single. Erstwhile slugger Willie Horton of Detroit (4-1) was jeered by Tiger fans, then went into seclusion for several days and did not join the team on its trip to the Midwest. He was suspended by the club, pending a meeting between all parties early in the week. Mickey Lolich won his fourth and fifth games, Denny McLain his sixth. Luis Tiant of Cleveland (3-2), a 21-game winner last year, lost his seventh straight and was shunted off to the bullpen. Three homers by Tony Horton led to two Indian wins. Baltimore (5-1) continued to put it all together. When the Orioles needed runs they got enough to beat the Twins 9-8, as Paul Blair homered twice and had five RBIs. When they needed pitching they got it from Mike Cuellar, who stopped the Royals 5-0 on two hits, and from Dave McNally, whose one-hitter against the Twins was the dandiest single pitching performance of the week. Cesar Tovar got the hit with one out in the ninth. McNally is 6-0 this season and 20-2 since last year's All-Star Game.
Standings—East: Balt 27-12, Bos 21-13, Det 17-16, Wash 19-20, NY 17-21, Clev 7-23. West: Oak 21-12, Minn 19-13, Chi 15-15, KC 16-19, Sea 15-19, Cal 11-22.
When the letters WP appeared in front of the name of John (Blue Moon) Odom in box scores in 1965, they usually stood for Wild Pitch. He led the Northwest League that season with 30 WPs. This year the letters WP have again showed up regularly next to Odom's name, but now they stand for Winning Pitcher. They have appeared seven times to be exact, and LP only once. Last week, the Oakland Athletics' righthander shut out Cleveland. Shutouts against the Indians have become something of a specialty with Odom, who takes particular delight in having blanked the team and its manager, Alvin Dark, four straight times in two years. Blue Moon has not forgotten the day in July of 1967 when Dark, then the manager of the A's, demoted him to Vancouver for a month. "That man never gave me a chance," Odom says. "Man, every time I make a good pitch or strike out a guy on his team I look right at him in the Cleveland dugout." When not too busy glaring at Dark, Odom supports his own cause by getting a few base hits at opportune moments. He offset his worst pitching of the season—four runs and nine walks in six innings against the Pilots—with his best hitting, slugging a three-run homer and three-run double as the Athletics won 11-7. Only 23 years old, Odom has already established himself as one of the finest young pitchers in the game. He gave up 2.45 runs a game last year to rank ninth best in the league He was the youngest among the top 28 pitchers from both leagues in that category and his 16 wins were by far the most for anyone close to his age. Odom's ERA currently is down to 2.32, disproving that old adage about the youth who sows wild pitches.