Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar of BALTIMORE became the American League's first 20-game winners. McNally, who has now won 20 or more games in three consecutive seasons, took his big victory with a 5-1 performance over the Athletics. Cuellar also made it 20 against the A's, beating them 6-4 despite giving up 10 hits as Frank Robinson broke out of a home-run slump—with two blasts of over 400 feet—to keep Cuellar in the game, NEW YORK ran off a four-game winning streak, all because of tight pitching. Lefthander Fritz Peterson won twice, once with 1‚Öì innings of scoreless relief in a 2-1 victory over the Royals and then with a three-hit shutout of the Twins. Stan Bahnsen preceded Peterson's blanking with one of his own, a five-hit, 3-0 win over the Royals, and Mike Kekich finished the string by pitching another five-hitter for a 2-1 victory against the Twins. DETROIT'S Denny McLain was suspended again. This time the Tiger management nailed him for an indefinite period—not to exceed 30 days—after he poured ice water on two home-town sportswriters. McLain's two cold showers could cost him fully a third as much in missed salary as the 90-day put-down meted out earlier this season by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for his involvement in gambling operations. For the second time in 10 days BOSTON was shocked by the usually timid White Sox with a big inning. On Aug. 19 the Red Sox were jolted for an 11-run ninth inning by the Chicagoans. Last week the Red Sox were ahead 7-1 when the White Sox exploded for eight runs in the sixth inning. CLEVELAND'S Roy Foster, who is Yank Thurman Munson's top rival for Rookie of the Year, gained support by hitting four home runs. He now has 19 for the season. Frank Howard of WASHINGTON was on a hot streak, too. He hit a home run, two doubles and a single to drive across five runs in a game against the Royals. The spree raised Howard's average to .294, moved him within one of the home-run lead, with 37, and increased his league-leading RBI total to 107.
BALT 85-47 NY 74-58 DET 69-62 BOS 67-63 CLEV 64-68 WASH 62-69
September 6, 1970
Minnesota, still slumping, hit only two home runs for the week and saw its lead shrink to three games. The Twins' troubles would have been worse had it not been for the brilliant pitching of 19-year-old rookie Bert Blyleven and the gritty work of another newcomer, Bill Zepp. Blyleven ended a team string of three consecutive losses when he threw the fourth complete game and the first shutout of his brief big-league career, defeating the Red Sox 7-0. Zepp later helped to halt a two-game relapse by merely surviving six innings against the Yankees. He allowed nine hits and twice loaded the bases but left the game without giving up a run as the Twins won 3-1. CALIFORNIA'S bullpen picked up four victories, two each by ace short reliever Ken Tatum and former top starter Andy Messersmith. Messersmith, whose injured ribs prevent him from working in the regular starting rotation, has now pitched 12‚Öì innings in five relief appearances over the past two weeks. He has allowed one run, just five hits and has struck out 12 batters. The fireworks were over in OAKLAND. The Athletics prolonged their fizzle to six straight losses, and the local fire marshal, almost unnecessarily, told Owner Charley Finley to stop shooting off fireworks in the Coliseum. The explosives, which heralded the A's victories and home runs, were showering sparks on a nearby lumberyard which, like the Athletics' pennant hopes, threatened to go up in smoke. Two former Mets, Hawk Taylor and Amos Otis, drove in runs in KANSAS CITY'S three victories, while a onetime Met minor-leaguer, Bernie Smith, won a game for MILWAUKEE. Smith's home run, his first in the big leagues, gave the Brewers a 4-2 10-inning edge over the Indians, but the rookie outfielder was disappointed when he heard that he had not hit it off the Indians' Dean Chance. "Shucks," he said, "I thought I had hit my first homer off Dean Chance. I'd never seen him before, he sure looked like him. I was sure that was him." Smith's actual victim was Dennis Higgins, who was also disappointed that Smith had not hit his homer off Chance. Lumbago, if not age, is getting to CHICAGO'S Luis Aparicio, but not much. While he is forced to sleep on the floor these days without a pillow because of a stiff neck, he is still swinging loose. Never before a .300 hitter in his 14 years of major league ball, Aparicio was batting .314 last week, only four points off the league lead.
MINN 76-54 CAL 74-58 OAK 70-62 KC 51-81 MIL 50-83 CHI 49-86
Just as they have been all season, PITTSBURGH and NEW YORK (page 22) were unable—or, perhaps, unwilling—to win against Western Division teams. The Pirates dropped six in a row against the Padres and Giants to lower their record against the West to 32-40. Three of the losses were caused when the Bucs failed to take advantage of opportunities to win. In a 4-3 loss to the Padres the Pirates twice muffed easy double plays, and the next night Roberto Clemente took a called third strike with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and two out. The Bucs lost the game 2-1. Later, against the Giants, the Pirates led 9-2 through seven innings but finally lost the game in the 10th as four relievers failed to hold the lead. The Mets were barely better, losing five of six to the Braves and Astros and dropping their record against the West to 33-39. Again the Easterners routinely turned down opportunities to win. An unfielded foul pop-up cost the Mets five unearned runs against the Braves, and the next night the defending champions allowed a 7-1 lead to slip away in the last three innings. Tom Seaver then pitched a three-hitter against the Astros but suffered his fourth consecutive loss when his teammates could score only one run. The following day in the Astrodome starting Pitcher Gary Gentry permitted two runs to score on wild pitches in a game the Mets lost by one run in 10 innings. Those lapses allowed CHICAGO to take second as the Cubs' pitching—led by Milt Pappas, who threw his sixth complete game and eighth victory since joining them in June—suddenly looked like the strongest among the contenders. The leaders' slumps also allowed ST. LOUIS to move back into contention. Bob Gibson, the most effective pitcher in the league, ran his record to 19-5. Rookie Jerry Reuss added a two-hit shutout over the Dodgers, and two days later the Cards were only 5½ games out of first after a 2-1 victory against L.A. Earlier Vic Davalillo tied a league record for pinch hits in a season (22) when he drove in the tying run with a clutch triple in a 3-2 win. There were even faint hopes alive in PHILADELPHIA where onetime 20-game-winner Chris Short has started drinking hard liquor and has helped his team move to within 7½ games. Short used to drink beer, sometimes seven or eight bottles of it a day, but he recently switched to bourbon to cut down his calorie count. Short lost 10 pounds in 17 days and, with a 5-2 victory over the Braves last week, proved his fastball is back to 100 proof. MONTREAL beat Cincinnati twice, on Boots Day's 10th inning single and a bases-loaded single by John Boccabella.
PITT 70-63 CHI 69-64 NY 67-64 ST. L 64-68 PHIL 62-70 MONT 57-75
Cincinnati's Machine was developing a Big Red face as it played without fire, and the early-season runaway days became only sweet memories. The Reds have won only as many games as they have lost since the All-Star Game, and last week was no exception. They were defeated twice in extra innings, and their two victories were one-run squeakers. Jim Merritt became the National League's first 20-game winner by a 6-5 score over the Phillies, while Lee May's two-run, 11th-inning homer provided the deciding run in a 4-3 victory against the Expos, LOS ANGELES' Dodgers, continuing as the surprise hitters in either league, trailed the Reds by only .002 in the team batting race and credited former Brooklyn Outfielder Dixie Walker, now the team's full-time hitting coach, with their high estate. "Dixie tells you little things," says Outfielder Bill Russell. "For example, on a high pitch he tells me I'm not raising my arms properly. On low pitches, I don't bend my knees enough." Those little things have added up to something big. As a team, the young Dodgers are hitting 18 points higher this year than they did in 1969. With the best record in the league since mid-July SAN FRANCISCO is making its annual grab for second place, where it has finished in each of the past five seasons. Last week the Giants edged within four games of the Dodgers as Juan Marichal pitched his sixth straight win and the 200th of his big-league career. Henry Aaron picked a clutch situation to break a two-week span in which he had failed to hit a home run. He clubbed a 3-2 pitch in the ninth inning against the Mets to drive in the winning runs of a 9-7 victory. HOUSTON'S Wade Blasingame saved a similarly dramatic performance for the Mets, beating them 2-1 on four hits. Blasingame's major league record is only 36-37, but he is 9-0 against the Mets, and his last three major league wins—his only victories for the past three years—have been against them, SAN DIEGO swept a two game series with the Pirates as Infielders Dave Campbell and Ed Spiezio drove in the winning runs.
CINN 86-49 LA 72-58 SF 69-63 ATL 65-67 HOUS 62-70 SD 50-82