Philadelphia (6-2) Manager Bob Skinner could be forgiven if he felt like Job in the sixth inning of a game with the Mets and his team trailing 5-0. New York's Nolan Ryan was pitching a perfect game. Tony Taylor, Deron Johnson and Johnny Callison of the Phillies were all injured, Cookie Rojas had just been banished for arguing with an umpire and Richie Allen had been suspended for not showing up at the ball park. Skinner juggled what was left, which amounted to two spare catchers—Dave Watkins and Vic Roznovsky. He shifted Rick Joseph from third base to second, inserted Watkins at third and, by Jove, "Watkins just took his teeth out, picked up his glove and did a job," Skinner said afterward. The teeth were part of a $250 dental plate Watkins was not going to risk damaging at third base, which is just as well for the Mets. Toothless, Watkins tied the score at 5-5 with an eighth-inning homer, and in the 10th he scored the winning run on a single by Johnny Briggs after his own triple. Grant Jackson beat the Mets 2-0, and then the Phillies made it six straight by taking four games from the Expos. Allen? "I'm through with them," he said. Said Skinner: "Fine. He will play under my ground rules or he won't put on a uniform for the rest of the year." Replied Allen: "Good, I need a vacation." Allen later apologized over a local radio station—"I'm 100% wrong"—but at week's end he was still under suspension, losing his salary of $457 every day he vacated. No sooner had New York (3-4) fans been privileged for the first time ever to speak of a possible pennant than their team went clunk. Masochistic fans howled with glee as Ron Swoboda's futility continued and he struck out 10 times in 12 tries during one period. Matters were not cleared up when Casey Stengel stopped by to say, "I'm so tickled because now you can go from 15 to the 40 and get something and you're not going to give up five, six runs because a young pitcher is watching the man on first because the catcher now can really throw." St. Louis (3-5) continued to wallow below .500. Dave Giusti lost twice as his teammates again had trouble scoring runs for him. In his seven losses he has had only six runs. Lou Brock's long-awaited return to Chicago (7-1)—he had boldly announced his last time there that the Cardinals would be in first when they came back—turned out to be a subdued affair. As added security police kept bleacherites from tossing debris at Brock, the Cubs won three of four. Against the Pirates and Expos, Ron Santo and Jim Hickman hit game-winning homers and Ken Rudolph, who played only because Randy Hundley had an adverse reaction to a tetanus shot, set up one victory with a two-run homer. On Sunday it was Billy Williams Day in more ways than one. He was honored for setting a league record by playing his 896th consecutive game and helped sweep a doubleheader from the Cardinals with five hits in a row. Steve Blass of Pittsburgh (2-5) won his eighth game, Jim Bunning his seventh, but the Pirates were unable to gain on the second-place Mets. Bob Bailey hit three home runs and started a triple play. Rusty Staub hit .360 but Montreal (2-6) was still running behind the Canadiens' pace in the hockey season when they won 58 games. President Nixon, in town for the St. Lawrence Seaway anniversary festivities, predicted that the Expos, like the Senators, will someday "get out of the cellar." Despite such limited optimism, les habitants continued to fill Jarry Park and set an attendance record for a Montreal sporting event when 30,219 showed up for a doubleheader with the Cards—which the Expos lost. After Mack Jones made a spectacular catch and hit two home runs, he got such a roar of approval from those fans that he said, "I don't care who you are or how many years you've played, once you get an ovation like that a certain feeling has to come over you." Los Angeles (4-3) seesawed with the Braves for the Western lead and came out on top. Left-handed Reliever Jim Brewer, his sidearm curve and screwball working their magic, saved a pair of games against the Braves and one against the Padres. In his past nine outings he has given up just six hits and no runs in 16‚Öî innings, picking up seven saves along the way. Don Drysdale pitched a 19-0, five-hit win against San Diego (1-5), which was further out of first place than the other four teams combined. Johnny Podres, who, like Drysdale, embarked upon a comeback this season, hung up his spikes for the last time. Joe Niekro picked up the only Padre win by blanking the Dodgers. Joe's brother, Phil, temporarily led Atlanta (4-3) into first place as he put down the Dodgers and became the first pitcher in the majors to win a dozen games. Rico Carty's 16-game hitting streak ended when he injured his shoulder for the umpteenth time, but one of the most painful losses of the year for the Braves came when a former mate, Marty Martinez of Houston (4-2), singled across a run with two out in the bottom of the ninth. What really hurt was that Martinez, who usually bats right-handed, got his hit batting left-handed. It seems that occasionally he gets a feeling that he will do better from the port side and Cecil Upshaw was the victim of his whim. The next night, though, the Braves ended the Astros' 10-game winning spree that had moved them into fourth place ahead of San Francisco (2-5). Willie Mays, irked because he thought Clyde King had misunderstood him and had left his name off the lineup, cussed out his manager. They later smoked a peace pipe, but the Giant tribe was uneasy. Cincinnati (6-2) Manager Dave Bristol has so much respect for the Giants' Willie McCovey that he uses a four-man outfield against him and has said that he someday might walk him with the bases loaded. The bases were loaded in a game between the two teams last week, and Bristol probably would like to shoot himself for not following his own advice. McCovey was up. McCovey hit a grand-slam homer. Nifty relief work by Clay Carroll (left) also helped to keep the Reds in third place.
July 6, 1969
Standings—East: Chi 49-26, NY 39 32, Pitt 38-37, StL 35-40, Phil 32-39, Mont 20-52. West: LA 43-29, Atl 43-30, Cin 38 31, SF 38-36, Hou 39-38, SD 27-51.
"I'm fed up," Joe Gordon of Kansas City (4-3) said, and then took measures to make sure his players were not, at least not for the first five minutes after a game. "If our guys think they are on a joy ride because they were drafted for $175,000 each, they're wrong," he said, and thereupon announced that he, not his players, would henceforth make team rules. His first one: a five-minute moratorium after each game. "I want them to spend that time thinking about what they did to help us win or lose," Gordon explained. Hawk Taylor would have been glad to spend an hour thinking about his two late-inning singles that beat the Twins 9-8 and 7-4. Tony Oliva perked up the Minnesota (4-4) offense by going 8 for 9 in a double-header, finishing the week with five homers, seven doubles, 15 RBIs and a .543 average. But the pitching bogged down—the hungry Royals feasted on the Twins for 23 runs in three games—and there was no catching Western leader Oakland (5-2). Reggie Jackson (page 22) hit his 28th and 29th home runs, and Blue Moon Odom won his 10th game. Odom was a 1-0 winner when the Athletics scored an unearned run against rookie Billy Wynne of Chicago (3-5), whose scoreless inning streak was ended at 20. White Sox players reported to sick bay in droves: Duane Josephson apparently with phlebitis in his right elbow, Ed Herrmann with a badly bruised arm, Woodie Held with a fractured shoulder and Luis Aparicio with a sore neck. On the credit side were two wins by Wilbur Wood and some long-range slugging by Bill Melton, who hit three homers in one game. Melton barely missed a fourth in his last at bat. The ball caromed off the fence a few feet from the top for a double. Seattle (3-4) split four games with the Sox, once winning with two out in the ninth on a pinch hit by Tommy Davis. The Pilots, last on May 10, have climbed to third while almost completely rebuilding their pitching rotation, with Marty Pattin the lone survivor among April's starters. Of the new staff, Gene Brabender, Fred Talbot, Gary Roggenburk and John Gelnar all won last week. Struggling California (3-5) seemed to be in danger of sinking into the ocean, which did not seem like a bad idea after the horrendous performance the team put on groping for fly balls in a 7-4 loss to the Twins. Nothing much bothered Baltimore (5-2). Dave McNally brought his record to 11-0, and the team was treated to a case of champagne by Frank Robinson, celebrating his 16th homer and fulfilling a promise. According to the Washington Senators, Robinson should have popped his corks later. Umpire Hank Soar first seemed to call the ball foul, then decided it had hit the foul pole. The Senators howled and Soar said: "They were all a bunch of idiots." Things were going so well for the Orioles that a kangaroo court, headed by Robinson and Coach Charlie Lau, found Manager Earl Weaver guilty of a "bonehead play" and slapped him with a maximum $1 fine. Weaver's crime? Inserting injured Shortstop Mark Belanger for "defensive purposes." Belanger made two errors in one inning. Winners laugh, even when they lose a pitcher like Jim Palmer, who was put on the disabled list because of a bad back. Mickey Lolich of Detroit (4-4) won his ninth and 10th games, giving him 17 wins in his last 18 decisions, including three in the World Series last year. Syd O'Brien hit three homers for Boston (4-5), but Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro and Rico Petrocelli hit a combined .176. Washington (4-3) three times beat the Red Sox in the last inning, first on a homer by Ken McMullen, then twice on Boston errors. Strong relief jobs by Dennis Higgins, Bob Humphreys and Darold Knowles also helped the Senators pull away from fifth-place New York (2-6), whose only bright spot was Mel Stottlemyre's four-hit shutout over the Tigers. Threatening the Yankees now is Cleveland (4-4). The Indians suddenly were so confident of their prowess against New York that officials had a plaque made up honoring Sam McDowell on his 1,500th strike-out and dated it for the night he was to face the Yankees. Obligingly, 12 Yanks fanned and McDowell easily reached his goal. "There's no stopping Sam now," said Bob Feller. "Unless his arm is injured he'll surpass Johnson's record [3,497]."
Standings—East: Balt 55-21, Bos 43-31, Det 39-32, Wash 38-39, NY 36-42, Clev 29-44. West: Oak 40-30, Minn 40-33, Sea 34-39, Chi 31-40, KC 30-43, Cal 25-46.
In this era of the erudite, sophisticated, wheeler-dealer players who are apt to think first in terms of stocks when averages are mentioned, the plowboy gait of Cincinnati's Clay Carroll coming in from the bullpen is a refreshing reminder of days gone by. From Clanton, Ala., Carroll is almost apologetic about the garden out back. "Nothing big," he says. "I guess I got my walk plowing furrows for watermelon, tomatoes, okra, string beans and corn." Carroll usually had to sneak off to get in his baseball licks, which usually preceded the licks his father gave Clay when he caught up to him. "We lived kinda downhill," Carroll explains. "Uphill about 15 blocks was a ball park. When Dad found me up there, it was a sorry walk back." No one whips Clay Carroll when he walks up a hill today. Presently baseball's most successful relief pitcher with 11 wins, four saves and a 2.71 ERA, he relieved last week for the 36th, 37th and 38th times, pitched 6‚Öì innings and won his ninth and 10th games in a row. Should he continue to pitch as effectively, he has a good shot at league records for games pitched (84 by Ted Abernathy for Chicago in 1965) and relief wins (18 by ElRoy Face for Pittsburgh in 1959). Carroll impressed the Reds so much last year after they got him from the Braves that they felt safe in trading their own superb Abernathy back to the Cubs. Two things have combined to make Carroll effective: a crackling fastball and a willingness to work. Although he has walked 40 batters in 72‚Öî innings this season, he has also set 57 others down on strikes, most of them with fastballs. Last year, with the Cincinnati pitching staff a shambles, Carroll saved the first game of a doubleheader against the Pirates, then started and finished the second game, giving up just one unearned run in nine innings. "I'll pitch anytime," Carroll says. "Beats plowing and lickings."