The great expectations for the mano a mano between Cy Young Award winners Tom Seaver of NEW YORK and Bob Gibson of ST. LOUIS collapsed into a brief encounter, the Mets clobbering Gibson with 10 hits and seven runs in 3‚Öî innings. They won 12-2. It was Gibson's earliest trip to the showers in nearly four years. Bolstered by some hot hitting from platooning First Basemen Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon, New York went on to sweep the four-game series with the Cards and climb into first place. The Cardinals' Joe Torre had his season-long hitting streak stopped at 22 games by these same Mets, but he did not sulk for long. "I hope I hit in the next 100 games," he said. He went 0 for 2 the next day against MONTREAL, a team that plays well but not often. The Expos squeezed in only 15 games in April, five of them at home. CHICAGO'S Billy Williams, who had been lagging lately, watched an 18-minute movie on the game's greatest hitters. Asked afterward to name a favorite, he replied, "I have to take Williams." He added quickly: "I mean Ted Williams." Maybe he should have meant Billy. He turned around on Saturday against PHILADELPHIA and hit two home runs and a double and batted in four runs. Phillies Manager Frank Lucchesi does not see many movies, but he does listen to the radio. On the way to the ball park he heard a broadcaster say that the Cubs' Johnny Callison had a hot bat. He had left-handed Chris Short walk lefty Callison to get to the right-handed Ken Rudolph with two men on. The nonpercentage move worked. Rudolph bounced into a tag out. PITTSBURGH'S Willie Stargell hit his 11th home run in a 7-5 loss to the Dodgers, setting a major league record for the month of April.
NY 13-8 PITT 14-10 MONT 9-7 ST. L 14-11 CHI 10-13 PHIL 7-14
"Everybody contributes," said SAN FRANCISCO'S Bobby Bonds, explaining the Giants' speedy start. Few have contributed more than Bonds, who hit seven home runs and seven doubles and batted .363 for April. The two who have contributed the least lately have been Pitchers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. Marichal failed to finish his last three starts and Perry his last two during the month. It was Perry who gave up Hank Aaron's 600th home run, but the Giants beat ATLANTA anyway on Willie Mays' 10th-inning single. "He's a spoiler," said Aaron. "It was supposed to be my night." It was Aaron's week. He had four homers and now is at 603. The HOUSTON Astros enjoyed their best April ever, winning 11 games. And they started May with a 3-1 win over the Mets behind Larry Dierker's continued strong pitching. Walter Alston managed his 2,717th regular-season game for the Dodgers, thereby breaking the team longevity record held by Wilbert Robinson, but he lost—to the Braves, 7-2—the 1,213th time that has happened to him. CINCINNATI finally showed signs of life, winning four games in a row before losing to the Giants. The Reds avenged that loss the next day when Don Gullett pitched and won, 3-2. Gullett is the only Reds pitcher to finish a game this season, and he came within one out against the Giants of making it all the way a second time. SAN DIEGO First Baseman Nate Colbert said he would rather play in New York and Montreal "before all those big crowds" than at home "in that big, beautiful ballpark with all those empty seats." Preston Gomez, his manager, said, "We have enough problems without his saying something like that."
SF 19-6 ATL 12-11 LA 13-13 HOUS 12-13 CIN 9-13 SD 5-18
In WASHINGTON Ted Williams had trouble finding the silver lining. His Senators lost four in succession to the White Sox, his centerfielder was off for Barcelona, his star slugger had only two home runs and his once-dependable relief pitchers gave up 10 runs in one 17‚Öî-inning stretch. The one bright note: Jerry Janeski singled against the White Sox for the first hit by a Washington pitcher this season. DETROIT Manager Billy Martin had his problems, too. One of his pitchers—he wouldn't say which one—was caught guzzling a beer on the team bus after an 8-1 loss to Kansas City. "That will be $200," Martin called back to the offender. Beer, he later explained, is permissible in the clubhouse but not on the team bus after an 8-1 loss to Kansas City. And speaking of losses to Kansas City, the once-invincible BALTIMORE Orioles had beaten the Royals 23 straight times before last Friday, when they lost to them 5-4 on a single by 140-pound Fred Patek. The loss dropped the Orioles out of first place. Worse, Baltimore lost to the Royals again on Saturday. BOSTON survived a triple play by Milwaukee and moved to the top of the division. "It was dumb base-running on my part," explained the Red Sox' George Scott, who converted an ordinary double play into three outs by hesitating between third and home. "Yes," said Manager Eddie Kasko, "I spoke to him about it. Rather vocally, I might add." NEW YORK was profiting from some gritty pitching by Steve Kline, a most reluctant ace. "To say I'm the ace...well, who am I kidding?" he said. CLEVELAND finished the month in last place and was put up for sale. Asking price: $9 million.
BOST 14-8 BALT 13-9 WASH 12-12 NY 10-11 DET 10-12 CLEV 8-15
The OAKLAND A's had everything going for them but fans. The team was in first place, and in 21-year-old Vida Blue it had the winningest pitcher in baseball. Yet four games with the World Champion Baltimore Orioles drew only 19,929 into big Oakland Coliseum. Blue shut out the Orioles on four hits before 6,998 people, then after three days' rest beat Cleveland 3-1 with 7,245 in attendance. Since his opening-day loss to the Senators, he has won six games, three by shutout. Down south the CALIFORNIA Angels drew 42,651 spectators for Detroit and Bat Night. Many of them were still in the parking lot when the Tigers jumped on Angel starter Rudy May for four runs. Detroit won 7-4. American League Cy Young Award winner Jim Perry of MINNESOTA got off to a similarly bad start against Boston, giving homers to the first two batters, Luis Aparicio and Reggie Smith. One hit later, Twins Manager Bill Rigney marched to the mound. "You don't remind me much of Cy Young," he said. But Perry stayed in and won his fourth game, snapping a three-game Twin losing streak. Cedric Tallis, the KANSAS CITY general manager who almost never misses a game, had resolved on New Year's Day that the Royals were going to beat Baltimore more often in 1971. Since they had not beaten the Orioles at all last year and only once in their history, this not only seemed possible but proved to be when the Royals won Friday. Tallis, unfortunately, was away at a fund-raising event. MILWAUKEE canceled batting practice on a damp night and then quickly succumbed to a four-hitter by New York's Steve Kline. CHICAGO'S Jay Johnstone watched Washington's Tom McCraw rob him twice with leaping catches in right field. Then Johnstone hit a run-scoring double past him in the same spot. "If he'd caught that one," said Johnstone, "I was gonna go out there after him with my bat."
OAK 18-10 CAL 14-11 KC 12-12 CHI 10-13 MINN 10-14 MIL 9-13