Minnesota pitchers have been sneaking into the batting cage for extra practice. Luis Tiant, notably, got three hits, drove in three runs, scored two runs and raised his batting average to .435 in the Twins' 11-2 victory over Milwaukee. He, Jim Perry, Jim Kaat and Dave Boswell batted in nine runs and scored 14, one of them a winning run, coming when Kaat reached home from first on a single. Their hitting may be in apology for having only eight complete games thus far. Boswell, in fact, at 2-5 with a 7.17 ERA, was not apologizing so much as castigating himself. "I could make excuse after excuse, and maybe the public would buy it, and some of my teammates, too," he said. "But I am cheating myself, because I am not extending. I worked four or five years to get this job, and it only takes eight or nine games to lose it. If they think the bullpen will be beneficial, to the bullpen I will go. I'm a team player." But the Twins are still hitting .282 as a team.
California (page 28) took three mean losses. Recently arrived from Des Moines, OAKLAND Second Baseman Tony Larussa drove in both runs as the A's beat the Angels 2-0. Sore-elbowed Blue Moon Odom was hurting all over when he gave up no earned runs and lost on his 25th birthday, 2-1 against Cleveland, as Shortstop Bert Campaneris made two errors on routine chances.
Wally Bunker, 0-6, gave up three runs in the 12th inning against Washington to help spoil KANSAS CITY pitchers' ERA which had been 2.25 in six games (five of them won by the Royals). But Moe Drabowsky gave up only one run in four relief appearances after emerging from the hospital.
Holes were showing. The CHICAGO White Sox, losers of 10 of their last 12 games, visited a Red Sox team that had lost 12 of 16. The Pales succeeded in losing two more games, plus one helmet. Never very big gauge, the Sox docked Syd O'Brien $17.50 when he cracked his batting helmet by slamming it down on the clubhouse runway. His teammates chipped in for a new one and the short-fused O'Brien took the old helmet out on the field and ceremoniously smashed it to pieces. MILWAUKEE gave up 41 runs and lost four of six.
MINN 31-13 CAL 30-17 OAK 25-23 KC 19-27 CHI 18-29 MIL 15-30
Not long ago BALTIMORE'S Earl Weaver complained, "We went into Kansas City and three straight days they knocked out our starters. I never saw anything like it." (When someone pointed out that the Orioles won all three games, Weaver said, "Yeah, we did, didn't we?") Now he doesn't even have nonfinishing pitchers to worry about. Mike Cuellar and Jim Hardin threw four- and five-hit shutouts, and Dave McNally pitched a six-hit complete game as Baltimore won four straight before losing two at California. Tom Phoebus lost a six-hitter, but then he's been in on a winless two-hitter, a three-hitter and a four-hitter too. Until Paul Blair was beaned Sunday, matters were going almost too well. When Second Baseman Dave Johnson was sidelined, for instance, Chico Salmon came in and went 3 for 5, 2 for 3 and 4 for 5, fielding flawlessly. Johnson recovered quickly. "He was cured by Dr. Salmon," Frank Robinson said.
New York fell 7½ games behind Baltimore. The Yankees lost four out of six as the league's poorest long-ball-hitting team got only three home runs. Reliever Steve Hamilton lost twice, but Fritz Peterson won his seventh. Relief pitching and timely hitting carried WASHINGTON to its best week of the season. Fireman Darold Knowles picked up his first win and eighth save, and the Senators, after three weeks below .200 in team batting, finally bettered the mark with fewer than 10 hits in only two games. Washington is two games ahead of last year's pace, when the Senators made Ted Williams manager of the year by finishing over .500.
On two successive nights, DETROIT beat the Yankees on home runs in the bottom of the ninth, one by Bill Freehan and another by Willie Horton. Young Les Cain won a complete game, and rookie Dennis Saunders pitched his 10th inning of relief without a run. BOSTON Owner Tom Yaw-key noted that the Red Sox had not had four back-to-back hits all season and said, "I can't fault a manager because guys don't get runs." Lefty Sam McDowell halted a five-game CLEVELAND losing streak. He had earlier stopped two streaks of three games and one of four. McDowell has accounted for seven of the Tribe's 16 wins.
BALT 33-15 NY 26-23 WASH 22-24 DET 21-23 BOST 20-25 CLEV 16-27
Endlessly winning CINCINNATI was a loose and happy crew. "The manager gave me heck because I got 'em out in the ninth inning with only six pitches," Reliever Wayne Granger reported. "He told me he put me in the game to give me some work." Sparky Anderson said he thought all four of his starters—Jim Merritt, Jim McGlothlin, Gary Nolan and Wayne Simpson—could win 20 games. As if the Reds weren't embarrassing the rest of the league enough, Tommy Helms started hitting. Exactly .187 the week before, Helms had a nine-for-21 streak. Luck, always a camp follower of winning sides, also entered. Cincinnati twice took off a bunt sign and each time scored a game-winning run. When San Diego tried the same thing with runners on and none out in the bottom of the ninth, Ollie Brown hit into a double play.
"Maybe it's the letdown after getting the 3,000th hit," Henry Aaron said. He had achieved only four singles in his last 11 at bats. During Aaron's slump—only he could call it that—his batting average rose to .331. All-Star write-in candidate Rico Carty powered out three home runs for a total of 14 as red hot ATLANTA won its eighth game in 10 starts. His batting average stood at .436.
Willie Davis' average, meanwhile, rose from ridiculous to respectable, and suddenly the fast LOS ANGELES bottle batter was talking again. "I still think I can hit .400," Davis insisted. He also said, "I love this Astro Turf. High grass is for the birds." This was after the speed of Davis, Maury Wills and Manny Mota had chewed up the Cardinals on St. Louis' new carpet.
Little Leagues, move over. The SAN FRANCISCO Giants allowed the Dodgers 19 runs Tuesday after giving the Padres 17 runs the previous Saturday, then let Pittsburgh have 11. In the Pirate game they blew a 10-4 advantage but hung on to win 13-11. Crowds were Little League, too. Against arch-foe Los Angeles, the largest attendance was 7,876. The only bright spots were Giant batting averages: Ken Henderson was still hitting .340, Dick Dietz .353.
After losing seven of eight, HOUSTON could not get well even on its old elixir, the Mets. The Astros beat the Mets 10 out of 12 last year and they whomped them 5-0 Friday. Then they lost three. SAN DIEGO, which swept only one doubleheader last year, nearly did it twice in five days against two division leaders. The Padres beat Cincy 8-1 and 4-1 but let Chicago up after leading 4-0 in a nightcap.
CINN 36-14 ATL 27-19 LA 28-20 SF 24-26 HOUS 21-29 SD 22-31
The CHICAGO Cubs won four out of six, lengthening their lead. Jim Hickman, blossoming as a steady longball hitter, pushed his average to .333. Shortstop Don Kessinger moved up to .309, and Ernie Banks got three hits—including his 501st career home run—in his first full day back since an injury. Normally steady Ron Santo, however, was rested for one game in favor of Paul Popovich. At least two writers strongly implied again that ties between Leo Durocher and his players—not to mention Phil Wrigley—were not so close that daylight could not be descried between them. Durocher tongue-lashed the Cubs for voting 22-3 not to accept the owners' first proposal to the players' association, yet Wrigley had advised the players to "go along with the rest of the fellows. There's no reason to stick your necks out on my account." Informed of Durocher's polemics, Wrigley said mildly, "What do you want—a good manager or good taste?"
The NEW YORK Mets continued to draw like a 300-foot chimney. A Memorial Day crowd of 54,424 topped their previous 1970 major league high. They also struggled back over .500, beating both the Cardinals and Houston convincingly in three- and four-game series. Gary Gentry pitched a three-hitter, and Nolan Ryan struck out 11, but Tom Seaver absorbed his third straight defeat, despite striking out 10.
Although Bob Gibson won a second well-pitched ball game, reducing kibitzers' home remedies (the latest being that he suck two lemon drops in the fifth inning), ST. LOUIS could not do anything else right. The Cardinals had lost the last seven games in which their starting pitcher was not named Gibson. They dropped two of three in a series in which the Mets did not bother to use Seaver, Koosman or Ryan. After the fire in their Philadelphia hotel, there was another in their New York lodgings. And their laundry came back dirtier than when they sent it.
Pittsburgh lost a 14th game in which it outhit its opponent. Sprinkle hitter Tony Taylor sprayed out four home runs as PHILADELPHIA won four out of six games in one stretch, even if Manager Frank Lucchesi did get an accidental punch in the eye in a bar and absentmindedly got on a plane bound for Hamburg, Germany. MONTREAL lost five straight at home, then headed for Crosley Field and the Astrodome. In neither have the Expos ever won a game.
CHI 25-19 NY 25-23 PITT 23-26 ST. L 21-24 PHIL 20-27 MONT 16-30