"I am not satisfied," said Frank Robinson of BALTIMORE, "with the way I've been hitting the ball. Sore hands. And they're both weak near the wrists. It has affected my ability to pop the ball." He did say, in reference to his batting average, that "the figure itself is all right." It was .378. As for the team as a whole, said F. Robby, "It's like a slump. We haven't been hitting as well as we should with men on base." But the club's figure was not bad, either: a lead of 132 percentage points over second-place NEW YORK. The Yankees were getting along on the strength of their three oldest pitchers—busy relievers Lindy McDaniel 6(34), Steve Hamilton (33) and Jack Aker (going on 30), who were 9-2 for the season. Mel Stottlemyre beat the Senators despite walking 11. In DETROIT Willie Horton was back after a mid-game walkout, but his shoulder was still sore and he was "tired," he said, "of hearing how much we miss Denny McLain." Tiger fans may have been tired of hearing how tired the Tigers were of hearing it. Mayo Smith called Tiger relief pitchers "the worst I've ever seen in baseball," leaving open the possibility that he had seen worse in softball. Ominously, General Manager Jim Campbell gave Mayo a vote of confidence. WASHINGTON, managed by a former hitter, had another sub-.200 batting week (third in a row) but won five while losing two. Catcher Jim French made what Ted Williams called an "impossible" catch of a pop foul for the 27th out of the win that ended the Senators' nine-game losing streak. At first there was some question whether it would be French's play or Mrs. Williams'. "I was scared to death it was going to be me," said the skipper's wife, who was camped under the ball in her front-row seat. When French yelled, "I've got it," Mrs. W. gladly gave way, "but then," she shuddered afterward, "Mr. French disappeared." He was just following through into the Washington dugout. "One foot was over the bat rack and he was spread-eagle," exclaimed the lady's husband. "It may be the greatest single catching play I've seen in my life." BOSTON, preseason pick to challenge the Orioles, appeared—with a 5-17 road record—to be out of the running already and dead set on proving it was. Reggie Smith grounded out in Baltimore, almost hit Coach Don Lenhardt on the head when he angrily tossed his batting helmet, then headed for center field, to discover, oops, there were only two out. Pretty soon there were three. CLEVELAND tried to strengthen its bullpen by acquiring Fred Lasher, one of the Detroit relievers whom Mayo Smith (see preceding page) had just impugned. On Sunday (although Tony Horton hit three home runs in the nightcap) Lasher lost twice to the Yankees' McDaniel in one doubleheader. Dean Chance was the losing pitcher on "Welcome Home Dean Chance Night."
BALT 29-13 NY 24-19 DET 18-20 WASH 18-22 BOST 17-22 CLEV 14-23
May 31, 1970
Minnesota's Ron Perranoski, declaring it unfair that relief pitchers are never selected as All-Stars, announced his candidacy for this year's team. He had appeared in 14 of the Twins' 26 victories, winning three and saving 11. But the hottest Twin was Rod Carew, who, after hitting for the cycle in Kansas City, had a stretch of 22 hits in 35 at bats, raising himself to the league batting lead at well over .400. CALIFORNIA, however, cooled Carew off; he was two for 22 against Angel pitching this year after going one for 12 in the hard-fought three-game weekend series carried by California two games to one. Staying right on the heels of the red-hot Twins, California was causing more people to say "the Angels are for real" than at any time since Billy Sunday forsook baseball for preaching. Baltimore superscout Frank Lane, comparing the Angels with the Oriole-killing Mets man by man, concluded that only Catcher Jerry Grote and Centerfielder Tommie Agee could make the Angels' lineup. As for the California pitching, said Lane, "If Andy Messersmith is Seaver, then Rudy May is Koosman and there's little to choose between Tom Murphy and Gentry." OAKLAND was plugging along at .500, with Reggie Jackson and Dick Green still hitting around .200 but elder statesman Felipe Alou building his average to .360 and Green's replacement at second, John Donaldson, winning one game with a homer and picking up three hits in the next. Rumor had it that Blue Moon Odom, last year's ace, might be sent down or rested for a month, and that Charlie Finley, running to form, was dissatisfied with Manager John McNamara. No report on whether McNamara was satisfied with Finley. "If Jackson does not start contributing he will be sent to the A's farm club in Des Moines," Finley told a reporter. "I won't go," responded Reggie. "He'll go," responded Finley. On Friday CHICAGO built leads of 6-0 in the first inning and 8-1 in the fourth against the A's, and then lost 9-8. "We can only wait and see what effect it will have on the team," said Manager Don Gutteridge. "We can either lie down for the rest of the weekend or else it will shake some of these guys up." On Saturday they lay down, 12-2, and they dropped two more on Sunday. KANSAS CITY'S ground crew, provoked by the Milwaukee crew's claim of an infield-grooming record of 51 seconds, did the job against the Brewers in 0:38. And Joe Keough, replacing injured Lou Piniella, was hitting a ton after shifting from a 33-ounce to a 38-ounce bat. "There is less demand for the big bats," claimed Keough, "so the makers can select good wood for them." MILWAUKEE, led by the base-stealing and hitting of "Tailwind Tommy" Harper, spent two heady days in next-to-last place, and then subsided.
MINN 26-12 CAL 27-14 OAK 22-20 KC 16-24 CHI 16-25 MIL 13-26
Cincinnati continued to be something else. Tony Perez, Johnny Bench and Bernie Carbo went boom-boom-boom (Carbo becoming the first left-handed hitter to reach the Astrodome's lofty yellow seats) as Jim Merritt won his ninth game and Wayne Simpson, Jim McGlothlin and Gary Nolan all pitched well to win. Bench threw his bat down the third-base line after popping up against Phil Regan, whom Bench accused of greasing the ball. "Bench, the best catcher in baseball," protested Leo Durocher, "pops up and he starts screaming." "Durocher," replied Bench, "carries about as much weight with me as a balloon." Pitching-hungry ATLANTA gloried in a five-hitter by (that's right) Milt Pappas, a six-hitter by Jim Nash and Hoyt Wilhelm, a five-hitter by Pat Jarvis and a three-hitter by George Stone. For LOS ANGELES, Billy Grabarkewitz, more easily known as Grabby, was hitting right around .400 while playing third, short and second. And bonus baby Willie Crawford was hitting for distance after practicing his golf. Dodger Batting Coach Dixie Walker, said Crawford, "told me to get more hip action and get my hands closer, so I've been going to the driving range and hitting a hundred or so golf balls to develop the proper rotation Dixie wants." SAN FRANCISCO celebrated Manager Clyde King's birthday Saturday by losing to the Padres 17-16 in 15 innings and firing him. King had suffered from such bad breaks as Juan Marshal's and Willie McCovey's bad reactions to medication—Marichal after an ear infection, McCovey because of his recurring knee ailment. (Marichal, say the doctors, almost died in the hospital.) Charlie Fox, who has been with the Giant organization for 28 years (once substituting for Horace Stoneham's chauffeur), moved into King's position from Triple-A Phoenix. The Giants promptly swept Sunday's doubleheader. HOUSTON lost five in a row, although Jim Wynn performed well afield and at bat. "When we've gotten just two wins from half of our starting staff," said Manager Harry Walker, "you know you've got some good pitching coming up." Right? "I was sitting in the bullpen laughing at all the crazy things that were happening," remarked SAN DIEGO Pitcher Danny Coombs of the aforementioned 17-16 affair with the Giants, "and all of a sudden I was the only guy left." He came on to earn the win with four scoreless innings of relief. Padre Outfielder Al Ferrara was enthusiastic about his defensive work so far. "This is the first time I've had a shot at the Golden Glove," he said. "Usually I blow it in the first week of the season."
CINN 31-12 LA 24-18 ATL 23-18 SF 21-23 HOUS 20-24 SD 19-27
As the Mets and the Cubs went head to head (page 10), the ST. LOUIS Cards were right in there with them in the standings, despite being routed from their Philadelphia hotel early Friday morning by fire. Julian Javier, who wound up in the lobby barefoot, won Friday's game with a bases-loaded double. Bob Gibson broke his regular-season strikeout record Saturday with 16 against the Phillies, while winning only his third game of the year. "I was getting advice from everyone," Gibson grumbled. "A woman said I wasn't concentrating enough for certain teams. And Leron Lee was telling me what to do. Imagine, a guy who has been in the big leagues only two months." PITTSBURGH rookie Gene Garber, who draws the minimum $10,000 salary, claimed he shouldn't have to pay the automatic $50 fine after being warned for throwing at a hitter. The pitch, he said, "was called from the dugout. I thought I was just following orders. Before I threw it, I saw the catcher give it this." And Garber used his thumb to indicate Jerry May had pointed to the batter's head. Manager Danny Murtaugh: "Garber will pay his own fine." And have a little chat with his manager. MONTREAL returned home on May 18 after a 4-2 road trip into the United States, and 31,004 fans somehow squeezed into 28,456-seat Jarry Park for a festive Victoria Day outing with the Mets. The New Yorkers led 4-1 after 7½ and 4-3 after eight, but the Canadians won on a grand-slam homer by Bob Bailey in the ninth, and they say the crowd just sat there, reluctant to leave.
CHI 21-17 ST. L 20-19 NY 20-21 PITT 20-23 MONT 16-24 PHIL 16-25