California (3-2), the Western Division's last place team, enjoyed its first winning week since April and came in for some heady praise from Walt Alston, manager of the crosstown Dodgers. "They've got the young arms, just like the ones the Mets had a couple of years back," said Alston. The youngsters Alston had in mind are Tom Murphy, Andy Messersmith and Jim McGlothlin, who have combined for over half the Angels' wins this season. "We know we're not going to get many runs," said Murphy of his team, which has 52 fewer hits and 11 fewer home runs than any other major league club. "We know we have to hold them close, and we've been competing among ourselves to see who can give up the fewest runs." Murphy and Messersmith were at a standoff after each pitched a six-hitter last week, but they still might be able to use some tips from seasoned George Brunet. The 34-year-old lefty started the Angels on their upswing by throwing a two-hit shutout. Oakland (5-0) had excellent pitching, too, and edged back within three games of first place. On consecutive days Blue Moon Odom, Lew Krausse and Catfish Hunter pitched complete-game wins, never allowing more than six hits or two runs. Minnesota (4-2) ran up nine straight victories before dropping a doubleheader to the Seattle Pilots (2-3), who came into the twinbill with an eight-game losing streak. It was rookie Outfielder Steve Hovley who turned his team around, driving in three of the five runs in the two-game sweep. He worked a ninth-inning, bases-loaded walk to push across the decisive score in the opener and later rapped a two-run homer to put his team ahead to stay in the nightcap. With aces Joe Horlen, Gary Peters and Tommy John, Chicago (2-4) was considered among the strongest pitching teams in past seasons. Alas, the top three starters are 18-29 this year and last week they lost two of three decisions while allowing 14 runs in 24‚Öì innings. With the hitters averaging .216 and the pitchers giving up 4.4 runs a game, only rookie base-stealer Pat Kelly enjoyed a good week for Kansas City (0-4). Brother of Leroy, the Cleveland Browns' crashing halfback, Kelly swiped three bases in one game to raise his season total to 30, only 20 short of the record for a first-year player. The hot Boston (4-1) bats cooled off with just six homers last week—the season average has been eight a week—but they were enough to give the team 127 for the year, surpassing by two its total for all of 1968. And there are signs of improvement on the Red Sox pitching staff, too. Two young righthanders, 23-year-old Ray Jarvis and 21-year-old Mike Nagy, who did not figure to make the majors this season, are already shaping up as the core of a strong staff in the future. In consecutive games last week Nagy pitched a five-hitter to bring his record to 6-2, and Jarvis stopped division-leading Baltimore (3-3) on just one run to earn his fifth win. In another Orioles game, dependable Brooks Robinson saved Dave McNally, who is 13-0, from his first loss of the season with an eighth-inning, two-run homer. McNally, whose teammates call him McLucky, had been lifted from the game the inning before with his team trailing 2-1. Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich continued to give Detroit (4-2) the most successful pitching twosome in the majors. Lolich ran his record to 13-2 with a four-hit shutout last week while McLain, who had missed a starting turn with a sore shoulder, came back to win his 14th game, also a shutout. The big hitting story in Washington (3-4), Frank Howard, and the little one, Shortstop Ed Brinkman, who has raised his average 77 points this season, were both beset by mid-season miseries. The pair batted just .226 before the flu knocked Howard out of the lineup and Brinkman reported for military service. New York (3-3) picked up two games in its race with Cleveland (1-5) to avoid the cellar. The Yanks' wins came on Fritz Peterson's shutout and Stan Bahnsen's complete game, in which he allowed the Red Sox just one run.
Standings—East: Bait 65-30, Det 51-40, Bos 53-42, Wash 51-49, NY 45-52, Clev 37-58. West: Minn 58-37, Oak 52-38, Sea 40-54, Chi 40-54, KC 39-55, Cal 35-57.
July 27, 1969
Atlanta (4-3) Outfielder Tony Gonzalez hit two home runs, one a decisive grand slam, in a doubleheader sweep that pushed the Braves to within .003 of the Western Division lead. But neither Gonzalez nor any of his teammates made as much money from baseball in Georgia last week as Mrs. Estelle Hale, a housewife from Statham. By random selection, Mrs. Hale was assigned Gonzalez in the Braves' new promotion venture, "Home Run for the Money." When the left-handed batter hit his bases-loaded homer, Mrs. Hale won almost as much as Gonzalez makes in a season: $3,600 for the homer plus a $25,000 bonus because the bases were full. There were also big winners—three of them—in Los Angeles (3-3). Pitchers Claude Osteen, Bill Singer and Don Sutton each won a game and kept the Dodgers in the lead. For Singer, it was his 13th victory while Osteen, who turned in the trio's best showing with a five-hitter, and Sutton each won his 12th. In a wild game in which Manager Walt Alston could not use one of his top three, the Dodgers lost to San Francisco (3-2) 14-13 as the two teams rapped 31 hits, including five home runs. The lead changed hands four times before substitute Bob Burda clouted a seventh-inning, three-run homer to win for the Giants. Burda was inserted in the lineup only the inning before when Willie McCovey, claiming he hurt all over, removed himself from the game. A .381 week for Shortstop Dennis Menke and victories by Relief Pitchers Skip Guinn and Jim Ray helped keep Houston (2-3) within 6½ games of the top, but an extraordinary effort by Lee May could not move Cincinnati (3-3) up in the standings. In a doubleheader, May slammed four home runs and collected 10 RBIs, a splurge that helped him tie McCovey for the league lead in homers with 29. The 26-year-old outfielder's powerful performance ran his total to six games in which he has hit two home runs this year. San Diego (2-3) had a brief winning streak broken and promptly reeled to three straight losses when its starting pitchers became ineffective. Dick Kelley, Al Santorini and Dave Roberts, allowing 13 runs in 11‚Öì innings, lost for the Padres. While Chicago (2-4) and New York (3-2) battled for the Eastern Division lead (page 8) and St. Louis (3-2) showed strong signs of revival (below), Pittsburgh (4-2) and Montreal (3-3) treated the fans at the Expos' Jarry Park to a wild series of their own. The Expos lost one to Luke Walker, who picked up his first win in 70 major league appearances with a three-hitter. Complained Walker after the game, "I'm still not a winner in the U.S." The next night the Expos lost again when the Pirates scored six times in the eighth and ninth innings. In that game the Bucs had 17 hits, all but one of them singles, and hit into four double plays, but won on Roberto Clemente's bases-loaded hit in the ninth. Still, the Expos' fans remained so enthusiastic that one reporter called Jarry Park "the world's only bilingual outdoor insane asylum." Whereupon the Canadian team rewarded its raucous followers with a pair of victories, one a shutout by Bill Stoneman, the other coming on an eighth-inning, tie-breaking double by Coco Laboy. No sooner did National League Manager Red Schoendienst pick Grant Jackson as Philadelphia's (1-4) only representative in the All-Star Game, than Jackson started against Schoendienst's Cardinals and was bombed, allowing two runs before getting a man out in the first inning. Worse, with four of the Cardinal hitters Jackson was ahead 0-2. "That's been my main trouble," said Jackson. "Instead of throwing a waste pitch, I've been coming right in." Coming right in had Jackson going right out after giving up six runs and 11 hits.
Standings—East: Chi 58-37, NY 52-38, StL 49-48, Pitt 47-48, Phil 39-53, Mont 30-64, West: LA 53-40, Atl 55-42, SF 53-42, Cin 48-41, Hou 48-48, SD 33-64.
"It's simple. We've been getting hits and fly balls at the right time. No tricks," said the Cardinals' third baseman, Mike Shannon, last week. Surging St. Louis may not have been using mirrors, but the team certainly was up to its old tricks of winning and looking like a pennant contender. Behind by 15½ games on July 4, the Cards have gone on a 12-4 streak and closed the gap between them and the first-place Cubs by 5½ games. Only four times this year has St. Louis won when it trailed going into the seventh inning, but the team avoided that hazard during the streak by pounding the opposition early. In the 12 victories, the Cardinals scored 14 runs the first time at bat and, predictably, it was leadoff hitter Lou Brock who led the way. He averaged .389 during the comeback and scored runs at the rate of almost one a game Two new members of the team—former Brave Joe Torre and former Red Vada Pinson—have made heroes of themselves by driving the scampering Brock and other Cards home, with 22 runs batted in since July 4. "It gives me great satisfaction," says Torre. "They wouldn't sign me as a kid and here I am now playing for the champs." Torre could be premature if he's thinking about the 1969 title. No team has come from as far back as the Cards were to win a pennant. The Cardinals are the reigning champs in the payroll department, however, a fact that many critics believe was responsible for the team's early season slowdown. Still, the rich St. Louisans have not lost a game on one of their semimonthly paydays in nearly three seasons. It will be no mean trick but, if they stay hot, the Cards may just squeeze in one more payday—after the World Series.