NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
As the Pirates, Mets and Cubs continued to make a race of it (page 16), dropout ST. LOUIS' troubles could be traced directly to problems at home. The Cardinals had a better road record, 41-37, than any of the leaders, but their 31-44 home record was the worst in the division. The Cardinals, in fact, have done better away from town in each of the four full seasons they have occupied Busch Stadium. A Bird on the road, one might say, is worth two in the Busch. "Reid's throw, Harmon's bunt, Ryan's throw and the way Selma held Jeter on, that's the game in a nutshell," said PHILADELPHIA Manager Frank Lucchesi after the Phillies had edged the Pirates 3-2. Scott Reid, a rookie in right field, had cut down Gene Clines, one of the league's fastest runners, with a perfect throw in the eighth. Terry Harmon, called by Lucchesi "the National League's super utility man," had laid down a perfect pinch suicide squeeze in the seventh for the winning run. Catcher Mike Ryan had thrown out John Jeter trying to steal second after a single in the ninth. And Selma had kept Jeter from getting a jump by doggedly throwing to first eight times. "Last year the Mets knew they could go on the field and beat us and they did," said MONTREAL Manager Gene Mauch. "Then Dan McGinn threw that shutout at Seaver and a little doubt creeped in. Then Morton beat Seaver and a little more crept in. The Giants, the Reds, the Dodgers...they have some fear of us now."
PITT 82-70 CHI 80-72 NY 79-74 ST. L 72-81 PHIL 70-83 MONT 67-85
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
September 27, 1970
"I couldn't care less who wins that thing," said CINCINNATI'S Bobby Tolan when asked whether he liked Pittsburgh, Chicago or New York in the other division. "That's their business." The Reds' business was losing four straight before Jim Stewart put on his brightly colored "elephant tie," which he wears when he thinks the Reds need a pickup. Sure enough, the cravat and Gary Nolan came through, and then at last, as the Reds presumably slept at 2 a.m. in Atlanta, the division championship was clinched for them by LOS ANGELES—the Dodgers eliminated themselves with a loss on the Coast. When they awoke the Reds said they were pleased, but they were also worried about what they were going to do for pitching once Nolan and the elephant had worked their turns. Rookie Wayne Simpson (14-3) is out for the year with a shoulder problem and 20-game winner Jim Merritt is trying to smooth out the kinks in his arm by playoff time. SAN FRANCISCO'S Gaylord Perry had a 38-inning scoreless streak going, and the Giants had a new late-season thing of their own: fighting to move up to second place for a change instead of dropping down to it. Henry Aaron, who said earlier in the year that Perry had beaten ATLANTA without a spitter, said, "He's throwing some pretty good ones now, but what's the use of complaining?" Joe Morgan of HOUSTON, batting .270 for the season, figured he had sacrificed at least 20 of his points to Uncle Sam. "I lost 20 points the first week I came back from Reserve duty. I was hitting .279 and went down to .259. Add those 20 points and I'd be right near .300." Nate Colbert had 34 home runs for SAN DIEGO, prompting Padre Manager Preston Gomez to say, "This boy has a chance to hit 50 one of these seasons," but he also had a .251 batting average and 141 strikeouts, prompting Colbert himself to say, "This has been a lost season for me."
CINN 96-58 LA 83-69 SF 82-70 ATL 74-80 HOUS 72-80 SD 59-94
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
The BALTIMORE Orioles stepped off a bus in Washington to find themselves division champions—NEW YORK having given up the mathematical ghost against the Red Sox during the trip. The news set off a pregame celebration in which people were dipped into a big tub of champagne-cooling ice. "The reason I don't think it was as easy this year as last year," said Manager Earl Weaver, "is because we had to have three clubhouse meetings this time. Last year the number was two." Asked whether he was happy to have the season nearing its end, BOSTON Owner Tom Yawkey said, "Well, I can't see any reason for prolonging it, can you?" DETROIT'S Al Kaline, on record as saying, "I wouldn't want to keep playing if I thought next year would be like this one," hit a two-run homer to help Mickey Lolich gain his 13th victory against 18 defeats. It meant that Lolich, who had had his heart set on 20 wins this year, probably won't lose 20 after all. Sam McDowell of CLEVELAND won his 20th, for the first time in his career, and said, "I'll never be the best pitcher ever—I'll never match Sandy Koufax. But I can earn more money." The sum McDowell is shooting for is $200,000, and the thing he thinks keeps him from being the best is that "I just don't have total concentration. I don't mean total commitment. I try as hard as I can. But the truth is that on almost every pitch I say to myself, 'Should I throw this or should I throw that?' Actually I know I can get a batter out with any one of several pitches. But I still mull it over and over." Frank Howard of WASHINGTON, deep in his usual September slump, tied a major league record by striking out five consecutive times in one game. Fortunately, the Splendid Splinter's boys, batting under .200 for the week, had pitching. Billy Gogolewski, with help from Darold Knowles, and Dick Bosman pitched two successive 2-0 shutouts over the Orioles.
BALT 98-54 NY 86-67 BOST 80-73 DET 76-76 CLEV 74-79 WASH 70-81
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Minnesota rehired Bill Rigney as manager for 1971 while the Twins forged steadily toward the division crown, thanks mainly to what Rigney calls the best bullpen he's ever had. Ron Perranoski tied his own major league record of 31 saves for the season and Stan Williams earned his 15th. After a two-game rest, Harmon Killebrew (two for 28) was back in the lineup. Explaining Killebrew's quick return, Rigney said: "I didn't want to get a punch in the nose. Harmon doesn't like to be out of the lineup." Charlie Finley of OAKLAND, after selling Tommy Davis to the Cubs and Mudcat Grant to the Pirates, said he had bought those fellows to finish first and didn't need them to finish second. Some of the A's muttered that the sales might cost them $1,000—the difference between second-and third-place finishes—but then they beat the Angels two in a row, virtually assuring themselves of runner-up status. Clyde Wright of CALIFORNIA won his 21st game and pretty well established himself as Comeback Player of the Year. In 1969 Wright was 1 and 8. "No one in baseball history," Manager Lefty Phillips told Wright, "deserved to win 20 games more than you did. You've worked at your trade when others would have quit." The KANSAS CITY and MILWAUKEE ground crews battled to a tie (26.9 seconds) in their "Ground Prix" competition to see who could sweep the infield faster. Royals' Manager Bob Lemon paid tribute to the Kansas City crew: "We've had only two bad bounces all season." "We're a young crew," said Groundskeeper George Toma, "and we've tried." New manager Chuck Tanner said he had the answer to CHICAGO'S third-base problems. Bill Melton—who previously had been shifted from third to right field because he could not play third, despite his protests that he had been shifted from right field to third in the minors because he could not play right field—could return to third, Tanner said, if he would start shuffling his feet. Tanner's reasoning: Melton would then not be standing flat-footed at the moment of the pitch.
MINN 92-60 OAK 84-69 CAL 80-72 KC 59-91 MIL 59-93 CHI 53-96