By running up its third seven-game winning streak of the season, Chicago (4-2) opened a seven-game Eastern Division lead and clandestinely began making preparations for the playoffs and World Series. Two Cub executives slipped off to Boston, where their team has not played since 1952. The reason: to find out how the Red Sox handled the Series in 1967. The Sox have an old, small park and had to learn how to cope with the huge postseason crowds. The Cubs, too, have an old, small park and will certainly have to deal with the same nice problem. The Cubs had better not print tickets, though, because St. Louis (6-1) has had a red-hot streak of its own. Since the All-Star break, the Cardinals have won 14 of 17 and have gained three games in the standings. The Cards' batters scored just 3.4 runs a game last week, but, except when Steve Carlton dropped a 3-2 decision, that was enough to keep the pitchers winning. The staff put together six consecutive complete games, including a pair of victories by Nelson Briles. Pittsburgh (4-2), whose .281 team average is the second best in the majors, has found another batter to join Matty Alou (.341), Roberto Clemente (.351) and Willie Stargell (.331) in the hitting elite. He is loose, lanky Catcher Manny Sanguillen, who hit .519 for the week to raise his season's average to .340. All four Pirates have a shot at taking the batting race where New York's (4-4) Cleon Jones presently has the edge. With a .375 week, Jones moved up to .351. Philadelphia (1-5) Manager Bob Skinner resigned, complaining that the front office frustrated his attempts to control Richie Allen. Skinner was replaced by Coach George Myatt, who is well aware of the problem facing him. "Rich Allen is one of the most unique individuals I've ever run across," said Myatt. "I don't think God Almighty could completely handle him." Montreal (1-6) lost its 20th and 21st one-run games of the year and slipped 36 games behind. Even with Henry Aaron enjoying one of his best seasons (page 10), Atlanta (4-4) surrendered first place in the Western Division to Cincinnati (6-1) Manager Dave Bristol calls his hard-hitting team "the Big Red Machine," but it moved into the lead while running in reverse. Reds batters hit 11 points under their season's average while the pitchers showed unusual stinginess. Starters Jim Merritt and Jim Maloney allowed only four runs in the 24 2/3 innings they pitched, and Maloney received the victory in the first 1-0 Reds win since August 1967. After suffering almost constantly with arm trouble for the last year, Los Angeles (4-3) ace Don Drysdale finally decided to retire. Starting in Brooklyn in 1956, Drysdale went on to win 209 games, the most in Dodger history. His stretch of 58 straight shutout innings last year—his last hurrah, as it developed—is a major league record. San Francisco (2-4) slipped to fourth place, 3½ games behind, as Juan Marichal dropped his fourth straight decision, the longest losing streak of his 10-year major league career. For the ninth time this season, Houston's (3-3) Don Wilson won after his team had lost its pros ions game. The fastballer's latest victory halted a four-game Astro slump and kept his team within 4½ games of first, although the Astros are still in fifth place. San Diego (1-5), the only Western team not in the pennant race, was held to one run in three of its games and needed Ed Spiezio's ninth-inning home run to take its only win.
Standings—East: Chi 71-43, NY 62-48, StL 63-51, Pitt 58-54, Phil 44-67, Mont 35-79. West: Cin 61-45, Atl 64-53, LA 61-51, SF 61-52, Hou 60-53, SD 35-79.
August 17, 1969
During the dress rehearsal for his bit role in a local production of Damn Yankees, Kansas City (1-5) owner Ewing Kauffman was discussing the young players on the Royals. One he mentioned was Pitcher Joe Butler. If that caused consternation, Kauffman soon found out why. Butler is not just another guy named Joe. His name is Bill, and Kauffman is not likely to make that mistake again. Butler last week pitched a one-hitter for the Royals, the best performance this year by any member of the expansion team's staff. The 22-year-old lefthander allowed only a third-inning single and struck out eight batters. Jim Perry of Minnesota (2-5) is another pitcher whose name is often confused. Jim suffers in the fans' memories because not only does his younger brother Gaylord of the Giants have a more striking name but he has also been a more successful pitcher—at least until this year. The Twins, in fact, tried to peddle off their Perry back in 1965, but could not find any takers. It has turned out to be a good thing indeed because Jim won his seventh consecutive game last week before finally losing one and now leads the Twins' staff with a 13-5 record. And confusion on the Twins' staff was hardly limited to Perry's name. Manager Billy Martin and Pitcher Dave Boswell matched bared fists in a late-night street fight outside a Detroit restaurant. The brawling began when Boswell slugged and kicked muscular Bob Allison because the outfielder tried to prevent him from going after Pitching Coach Art Fowler. Fowler had turned Boswell in to Martin for not running his pregame laps. Scrapper Martin then came to Allison's rescue, cutting his pitcher so seriously that Boswell needed 20 stitches in his face. Martin required seven stitches in his punching hand. Oakland (4-4), with Reggie Jackson in a mild slump, hit only one home run, and that one by a pitcher, but still gained 1½ games on the Twins. The A's lost Rick Monday, though, for at least a month when a pitched ball broke his wrist. Two relief wins for Bob Locker and a complete-game victory by Gene Brabender helped Seattle (3-3) move from fourth to third. Brabender, who was used mostly in relief by the Orioles last year, has now won nine games as a starter for the Pilots this season. Chicago (1-5) and California (2-3) fought to stay out of the cellar. The White Sox moved ahead of the Angels briefly when Ron Hansen and Bill Melton combined for nine RBIs in one game. Then the Angels rebounded to fifth place on Aurelio Rodriguez' decisive ninth-inning, two-run double. With Boog Powell helping to keep Baltimore (6-1, left) far ahead in the Eastern Division race, the tightest struggle was between New York (5-1) and Washington (3-2) for fourth place. The Yankees moved to within half a game of the Senators on Mel Stottlemyre's 16th win of the year and surprising performances by Al Downing and Thurman Munson. Downing, who has been ineffective most the year, pitched a four-hit shutout while Munson provided him with all the offense he needed. Making his major league debut, the promising 22-year-old catcher keyed two rallies with singles and knocked in a pair of runs. Meanwhile, the Senators slumped as their starters allowed 16 runs in 23‚Öì innings pitched and failed to complete a game. Denny McLain won his 17th game for Detroit (6-2), but that could not cool a feud between Manager Mayo Smith and Pitching Coach Johnny Sain. Sain, who is given much of the credit for the Tigers' pennant last year and the Twins' pennant in 1965, sounded off against Smith to the press because, he claimed, the manager failed to take his advice. Tiger General Manager Jim Campbell reads the papers and fired Sain the next day. For the third straight week Boston (2-4) failed to put together back-to-back wins. The Sox hitters averaged .271 for the week, but 20 pitchers allowed the league's two lightest-hitting teams, the Pilots and Angels, to score 39 runs. Even now that Ken Harrelson is hitting—his average is .368 in 19 games since the All-Star break—Cleveland (4-4) dropped to over 30 games behind because, except when Steve Hargan pitched a four-hit shutout, the once-powerful Indians staff allowed an average of 5.1 runs a game.
Standings—East: Balt 79-34, Det 64-48, Bos 60-53, Wash 59-57, NY 57-57, Cle 48-68. West: Minn 68-46, Oak 65-46, Sea 46-65, KC 45-67, Cal 43-66, Chi 43-70.
"All I want is one RBI per game for the rest of the season—that would give me over 150 for the year. As far as homers go, I'd like to better my alltime high of 39. And I can't see anything wrong with finishing with my average over .300, can you?" said Orioles First Baseman Boog Powell last week. No hitter would find anything wrong with the totals Powell suggested. They all add up to a dream season, and each of the goals is within his reach. So might be the MVP trophy. With 49 games to play, the 28-year-old, left-handed slugger had a .302 average with 31 home runs and 103 RBIs and was enjoying the most extraordinary season of a nine-year yo-yo career. In 1966, for example, Powell averaged .287 with 34 homers and 109 runs driven in, but the next season his figures read, .234, 13 and 55. Now the bulgy 6'4" 240-pounder hopes he has matured to permanent stardom, and all because of an injury. Powell began slowly this season, but in May was kneed in the chest by an opponent. His sore rib cage forced him to shorten his stride at the plate, and he has been a booming batter ever since. Adding seven RBIs last week, he took over the league lead in runs driven in. If he meets his one-a-game goal, Powell will be the first American Leaguer since Ted Williams and Vern Stephens in 1949 to knock in over 150 runs. He will have ample help doing it with Paul Blair (.306) and Frank Robinson (.327) batting ahead of him in the Baltimore lineup. The only danger may be that his teammates will help him too much. The Orioles have been winning games at a record pace—they could become the first team in the majors since 1954 to have a .700 winning percentage for the season—and they should clinch their division title early. If they do, Manager Earl Weaver admits it will mean more cautious play by Baltimore, rest for the star players and, perhaps, fewer RBIs for Boog Powell.