For Cincinnati (4-1) reliever Clay Carroll, Memorial Day was worth remembering. Not only did the righthander win the team's Indianapolis 500 pool and score his second victory of the week by pitching three scoreless innings; in the 10th inning against St. Louis he hit his first big-league home run to give the Reds the game. "You should have seen Clay come into the dugout," said Manager Dave Bristol. "His smile looked like a cut watermelon." The rest of the Reds were as toothy as they stretched their winning streak to nine games and closed to third place, 3½ games out of the Western Division lead. The batters averaged .300, Lee May set a record by hitting six homers in three games and Bristol won a game by ordering slow runners Tony Perez and Johnny Bench, on third and first, to steal. Perez responded to the daring maneuver by lumbering home with the deciding run as the stunned opponents finally tossed the ball erratically back and forth across the infield. With nine RBIs from Andy Kosco and complete game wins from Bill Singer, Don Sutton and Claude Osteen, who have now pitched 21 of the Dodgers' 28 victories, Los Angeles (4-1) edged within a half game of first. San Diego (4-1) pitching never allowed more than two runs as Al Santorini and Joe Niekro threw complete games and Jack Baldschun picked up his fifth relief victory without a loss. Baldschun's win came on rookie John Sipin's first major league homer. Houston's (3-3, page 76) winning streak ended at 10 games, but not before Doug Rader's ninth-inning grand slam and 10th-inning single proved decisive in two consecutive games. Orlando Cepeda of Atlanta (2-4) faced his old Cardinal teammates for the first time and knocked in the winning run in both of the Braves' victories against the defending champs. San Francisco (1-4) dropped to fourth place amid rumors that the Giants were trying to unload Jim Hart, who averaged 28 home runs his first five seasons but is homerless this year and one of the least surehanded outfielders in the league. Don Young, a .216 batter, was hit and then got a hit to help Chicago (4-1) to two straight wins and a 7½-game Eastern Division lead. The pitch that struck Young and kept a winning rally going came in the seventh inning of a scoreless game. The next time out. Young's ninth-inning single knocked in the deciding run after the two hitters in front of him had been purposely walked. New York (4-1) put together a four-game surge with excellent pitching from both starters and relievers. Jerry Koosman and Tug McGraw combined for a four-hit, 11-inning, 16-strikeout shutout, and then Tom Seaver and Ron Taylor matched up in a five-hitter. The next day McGraw helped Gary Gentry to another five-hitter in which Ed Charles, averaging only .141, knocked in all four Mets' runs. Pittsburgh (3-3) hit .341 and pulled off the season's first triple play, but still lost three times because its starters were hit hard. So-called aces Steve Blass, Bob Veale and Bob Moose allowed 22 hits and 13 runs in 12‚Öì innings pitched as the Pirates lost 10-4, 7-6 and 9-6. Shaky relieving by youngsters Billy Wilson, Luis Peraza, Barry Lersch and Gary Wagner cost Philadelphia (1-4) two games. In a 2-2 tie, Wilson came in to serve three walks and a wild pitch before Peraza replaced him and gave up a grand-slam homer. Then, in the 10th inning of another tie, Lersch walked two men before Wagner came on to 1) carelessly permit a double steal, 2) walk a man and 3) give up the game-winning hit. Manager Bob Skinner then promptly demoted Lersch and Wagner to the minors. St. Louis (2-4) fell to fourth, 10 games out of first. All the Cards' losses were by three runs or less in games that could have been won with a few clutch hits. Instead, St. Louis stranded 52 men on base. Outscored 30-12, Montreal (0-6) ran its losing streak to 16 straight games, only seven short of the record for consecutive losses set by the Phillies when Gene Mauch, the present Expos' skipper, managed them.
Standings—East: Chi 33-16, Pitt 25-23, NY 22-23, StL 22-25, Phil 18-25, Mont 11-33. West: Atl 28-17, LA 28-18, Cin 24 20, SF 24-23, Hou 24-27, SD 21-30.
June 8, 1969
In his eight seasons as the only manager in California's (3-2) brief history, Bill Rigney had been fired almost annually by the press but never by the front office. Last week, with the Western Division's last place Angels on a 10-game losing streak, Rigney's bosses finally gave him the thumb. Lefty Phillips, a coach whose playing career ended with an injury before he could move higher than Bisbee of the Arizona League, took over the team and led it to its first winning week since mid-April. For the rest of the West interdivisional play against the tougher East continued to be a nightmare. Division leader Minnesota (2-4) left 52 men on base and scored only eight runs in its losses despite hot hitting by Rod Carew (below). Still, the Twins held onto the top spot as second-place Oakland (3-4) won only when Chuck Dobson pitched two complete games and righthander George Lauzerique, just up from Iowa, threw an 11-strikeout complete game. Lauzerique, who had not gone to bat in the American Association, where they are experimenting with the designated pinch-hitter rule, also socked two key hits in his four tries as a major leaguer. "I never like to spend my holidays in Washington," said Chicago (2-4) General Manager Ed Short. Short remembers the time five years ago when the Senators knocked the Sox out of the pennant race with a doubleheader sweep on Labor Day. And he may regret Memorial Day weekend this year. With his team in position to strike for the lead, the White Sox lost three out of four against the Senators. Seattle (2-3) Manager Joe Schultz was caught red-handed—and red-faced—when he handed Oriole Manager Earl Weaver the wrong lineup card at a home-plate meeting. Weaver waited until Tommy Davis slugged a two-run double to key a fifth-inning Pilot rally to protest the batting-order error to the umpires. The mistake cost Schultz's team two sure runs and a chance for a comeback in a 9-5 loss. Kansas City's (1-5) hitters averaged over four runs a game, but they were not enough as 18 Royal pitchers were clouted for 35 runs. Ken McMullen, who had been averaging .200, and Paul Casanova, who was down to .170, helped Washington (5-2) break a three-week slump by averaging .500 and .380. The Senators also received a boost from Dar-old Knowles, the team's top reliever the past two seasons who had been on active duty with the Air Force in Japan. Knowles appeared in his first four games of the year last week, winning two and allowing no runs. Boston (4-2) Shortstop Rico Petrocelli has been hitting so well—.333 with 15 homers—that his fielding went unnoticed until he made a mistake. Petrocelli, who was the league's top fielding regular shortstop in 1968, made his first error in 49 games. The Red Sox' Ray Culp, a 16-game winner a year ago, became the league's top pitcher with his ninth victory. Detroit (4-2) Manager Mayo Smith has made no secret of his annoyance with Pitcher Joe Sparma. "How would you like to watch Sparma struggle, struggle, struggle all the time?" asks Smith. But last week even Smith was not complaining about the former Ohio State quarterback who struggled as usual—he walked seven—but threw a one-hitter. With complete game wins from Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson and a .286 average from its hitters, New York (4-1) held fourth place despite the Senators' surge. Luis Tiant, who was 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA last year, finally won a game for Cleveland (2-4). Tiant had lost his first seven decisions and compiled a 7.51 earned-run average before stopping the Athletics 9-2. Division-leading Baltimore (3-2) held a lead of three games although aces Dave McNally and Tom Phoebus were both bombed twice and Phoebus lost his first game of the season. The pair, who now have a combined record of 12-1, pitched 14‚Öî innings and allowed 15 runs.
Standings—East: Balt 35-15, Bos 30-16, Det 25-19, NY 24-25, Wash 25-27, Clev 12-30. West: Minn 25-20, OAK 24-21, Sea 21-24, Chi 19-22, KC 21-26, Cal 14-30.
As anyone knows who has read last year's batting records or gone out to the airport to greet a major league team, the .400 hitter and the train are equally extinct. They are for everybody but the good people of Minnesota, where the Twins have a .400 hitter who owes his career to a train and a trainman. Second Baseman Rod Carew, who hit .400 last week to raise his season's average to .392, was born on a train in Panama and was first recommended to the Twins by a railroad detective named Herb Stein. "Herb mentioned a friend of his had seen a good prospect playing in New York, so we decided to give the player a tryout," recalls Cal Griffith, the Twins' owner. "After he planted a few balls in the seats, that was enough. We signed him." The prospect was Carew, who joined the Twins in 1967 and became Rookie of the Year. In mid-August last season his average was .309, but then he started trying to hit home runs and dropped off to .273. "I thought about that during the winter," says the left-handed hitter. "I knew some adjustments had to be made. I switched from a 34-to a 36-ounce bat, opened my stance and forgot about hitting homers. All I do now is think base hit and I don't care how I do it, even if I bunt it, drag it, chop it or slash it." In one game Carew had two bunt singles and an inside-the-park home run. Last week he hit two homers in one game and later taught Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg how much his new attitude and stance have helped. "We used to get him out with a high, inside fastball," says Lonborg. "I threw him one tonight and he pulled it down the right-field line for a double. That hit went like a bullet." Or, maybe, a speeding locomotive.