"Are you tired?" asked Minnesota (6-1) Manager Billy Martin. "Yes," answered Twins Relief Specialist Bob Miller, who was making only his second start since 1967. "Do you want to finish?" asked Martin, whose team led by 10 runs in the ninth inning. "Yes," replied Miller. And he did, even though he gave up four runs. The victory was his second last week as a surprise starter for the surging Twins. "I just wanted him to get the hell out of there so I could get it over with," said Miller after the game. The reliever's anxiety was understandable, since he had not thrown a complete game in five seasons. Helping Miller to boost the Twins back into the Western Division lead was Harmon Killebrew, who knocked in 14 runs and increased his league-leading RBI total to 82, with still half a season to go. Slumping Outfielder Lou Piniella's wife Anita helped Kansas City (5-3) move up to a fourth-place tie. She brought out some old home movies taken of her husband during a hot streak, and he detected what he had been doing wrong in recent weeks when his average dropped into the .250s. His swing corrected, Piniella promptly went on a tear, averaging .447 and crashing a game-winning home run. Twenty-six of Chicago's (3-5) 27 homers since the beginning of June have been hit by rookies, and last week the pattern continued. Blasts by first-year-men Bill Melton, Carlos May and Gail Hopkins were the White Sox' only home runs and they were decisive in two of the team's wins. Pitcher Phil Ortega's career with California (4-4) may have ended in a hotel lobby during the wee hours of the morning last Wednesday. The lefthander returned from an evening on the town clad only in his underwear. Manager Lefty Phillips, who was awakened by the house detective, called Ortega a "disgrace" and reportedly will ship him out on waivers. Oakland (2-4) dropped from first place, but Reggie Jackson continued belting home runs. The left-handed slugger raised his season's total to 34 with five homers last week, including three in one game. Seattle (2-5) was outscored 33-12 in its losses, mainly because base-stealer Tommy Harper was not getting into position often enough to practice his specialty. Harper reached base only twice while averaging just .111. In the Eastern Division, Detroit (5-1) edged into second place behind hard hitting by Tom Tresh. Tresh, who joined the Tigers from the Yankees last month, had been in a four-year slump and averaged less than .200 last season. Then Tigers' Hitting Coach Wally Moses, who had trained him when he was a rookie, got him started again. Last week Tresh hit .526 with eight RBIs and four homers, and his season's mark was up 37 points since leaving New York (4-2). The Yanks put together a three-game winning streak, their longest in a month. The victories were all by one run, including a 10-9 slugfest with the Orioles in which Catcher Frank Fernandez' three-run homer proved decisive. Washington's (6-3) Frank Howard enjoyed one of his best weeks, clouting six home runs and collecting seven RBIs while averaging .419. "It should be Alvin Dark's show. He should have complete control of the team," said Cleveland (3-5) Owner Vern Stouffer, who also promised to take an active hand in running an organization that has been less than successful on the field and at the gate. Where did that leave General Manager Gabe Paul? All Stouffer would say of his GM was, "He's a very hard worker." With Boston (2-6) falling to third place, Manager Dick Williams said, "A lot of things are hurting us. We've been playing terrible baseball." One man Williams could not blame was Centerfielder Reggie Smith, who hit five homers, knocked in 10 runs and averaged .464. Baltimore (1-4) had its first losing week since early May, but still managed to hold a 10-game lead as Dave McNally won his 12th game without a loss.
Standings—East: Balt 56-25, Det 44-33, Bos 45-37, Wash 44-42, NY 40-44, Clev 32-49. West: Minn 46-34. Oak 42-34, Sea 36-44, KC 35-46, Chi 34-45, Cal 29-50.
July 13, 1969
Tom Seaver and Cleon Jones (below) were not the only Mets helping to keep New York's (6-2) fever at pennant pitch. Jim McAndrew, with a three-hitter, and Gary Gentry, with a five-hitter, each picked up a complete game victory, and the hitters were doing their share. The Mets scored 7.5 runs a game and hit 26 points over their season team average as they closed within five games of the Cubs. Montreal (6-3) had its best week of the season, and the fans showed they appreciate winning play. Some 12,508 showed up at Jarry Park on a threatening evening, and, despite the lack of cover at the makeshift stadium most remained during a 110-minute rainstorm. Neatly dressed businessmen were seen walking around barefoot in the soaked stands, provoking President John McHale to order the concessionaires to hand out free coffee on future rainy days. Philadelphia (4-4, page 48), minus Richie Allen, still scored seven runs a game with Johnny Briggs (.358), Ricardo Joseph (.375) and rookie Larry Hisle (.416) clouting five homers, as the Phillies moved briefly up to fourth place. St. Louis (5-4) Manager Red Schoendienst inserted Vic Davalillo in three emergency situations and came up the loser twice. Davalillo, usually an outfielder, made two appearances as a relief pitcher and failed to get a man out either time. In his other showing, though, he came to bat as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded, two out and the Cards trailing the Mets 4-0. He crashed the first grand slam homer of his 6½-year major league career. Chicago (3-5) had winning performances from three of its regular starters, Fergie Jenkins, Bill Hands and Dick Selma, but Ken Holtzman, who shot off fast to a 10-1 record this season, is deep in a slump. He has not won for almost a month and has not thrown a complete game since mid-May. In two starts last week he allowed 13 runs and 15 hits while pitching just seven innings and losing twice. The Pittsburgh (0-6) hitters did their part, averaging .300, but their pitchers allowed the opposition to bat .343, and not one starter was able to go beyond the fifth inning. Atlanta's (5-4) ace knuckleballer, Phil Niekro, won his 13th and 14th games of the season as his team regained the lead in the Western Division. The Braves' long man in the bullpen, Claude Raymond, found out just how long relief stints can get. Coming to Jim Britton's rescue after only one man was out in the first inning, Raymond pitched the remaining 8‚Öî innings and recorded his second win of the year. Surprising Bob Burda, Willie McCovey's substitute at first base, and rarely used Ron Herbel helped San Francisco (7-2) stay within striking range of the top. Burda hit .416, and Herbel pitched his second complete game within a week. The righthander's nine-inning victories came in his only two starts of the season. Reds Manager Dave Bristol did not buy the TV commercial Los Angeles' (3-4) Don Drysdale made last winter, claiming that Big D used only a grease-less hair tonic. Last week Bristol protested that Drysdale was throwing a greaseball and, despite the Dodger pitcher's claim that "I've never bought a jar of Vaseline in my life," the umpires examined his hair for traces of kid stuff. The umps discovered nothing, but the Cincinnati (3-4) hitters found their batting eyes and oiled Drysdale for two runs, sending him to the clubhouse for a shower and perhaps a shampoo. Houston (3-4) and San Diego (2-5) met in a 12-inning bash that ended with the Padres on top 9-8. The Astros scored four runs in the top part of the last inning only to have their opponents rap seven of their 21 hits in the bottom half for five runs and the win. Walt Hriniak's pinch single drove in the deciding run.
Standings-East: Chi 52-31, NY 45-34, StL 40-44, Pitt 38-43, Phil 36-43, Mont 26-55. West: Atl 48-34, LA 46-33, SF 45-38, Cin 41-35, Hou 42-42, SD 29-56.
A soft-drink company is running a TV commercial in New York that shows Mets Pitcher Tom Seaver chasing a blonde around Shea Stadium, sweeping her off her feet when he catches her and then lapsing into a duet extolling the wild taste of the sponsor's product. About all the commercial proves, other than that Seaver, a handsome, intelligent, 24-year-old Californian, could catch almost any blonde he wanted if he were not already married to a pretty one named Nancy, is that the righthander is no Renaissance man. He cannot sing. New York fans, who must endure the commercial during telecasts of their team's games, can forgive their hero this failure because there is little else he has not done well. Running his record to 13-3 with his seventh consecutive victory last week, Seaver now has the best won-lost percentage among National League starters and is almost certain to become the Mets' first 20-game winner. Along with Cleon Jones, who is locked in a duel for the batting title with a .354 average, Seaver, the 1967 Rookie of the Year, with a 16-13 record, is the most important player in the Mets' rise this season. Solidly in second place, 11 games over .500, New York is Chicago's only challenger for the Eastern Division title, a battle that will be joined this week and next as the teams meet six times. If sportswriters do a little secret rooting for Seaver, their prejudice may be forgiven: they are cheering one of their own. The University of Southern California journalism student has already had his byline in Sporting News and has future writing assignments for other national publications. "I have more rapport with the reporters than a lot of players," says Seaver. "I can understand how they feel having to troop into the locker room and ask questions." The question is, can the writers understand how Seaver feels, with the answers at his fingertips?