"When Vida Blue was holding out and they were talking about a fourth starter, I hinted to Manager Dick Williams that I could do the job," said Reliever Bob Locker of OAKLAND. "He wasn't listening." With good reason, it seems. Against the Yankees Locker rescued Jim Hunter by striking out Rich McKinney with two men on for the final out. And now that Vida Blue is back—although not due to start for a bit—Locker isn't even hinting. The Red Sox ended Bobby Darwin's hitting streak at 12 games, but he still had a psychological effect on opponents. There were runners on second and third with the score tied in the eighth inning when Boston Manager Eddie Kasko gave Pitcher Sonny Siebert the go-ahead to pitch to Harmon Killebrew, hitting ahead of Darwin. Killebrew's double scored two runs in a 3-2 victory. Pitcher Wilbur Wood of CHICAGO felt that a five-day rest was not the answer to regaining his top form. "All that time off isn't going to do me any good," he said. He was wrong. A rested Wood did not give up a walk in a 2-1 win over Cleveland and retired 16 of the first 18 batters. Nolan Ryan of CALIFORNIA had a start rained out in New York but took advantage of the situation by warming up anyway, and discovered something. "Even though I slowed my motion I still had more velocity than I realized," he said. "Now I'm much more relaxed, flipping the ball rather than muscling it. It is easier on my arm." But not on Milwaukee, whom he beat 4-0 on a three-hitter, with 14 strikeouts. Somebody broke Lou Piniella's bat in KANSAS CITY'S game against Detroit and the equipment man brought him a replacement. Ooops, wrong model. Piniella homered anyway. "Guess that proves I'm in the groove," he said. Former TEXAS player Tom McCraw helped Cleveland beat the Rangers 2-1 before sounding off at Ted Williams: "I'm not playing against the Rangers, I'm playing against him."
MINN 11-3 OAK 9-4 CHI 9-7 TEX 8-9 KC 8-10 CAL 7-9
It was not until the third inning that utility infielder Terry Crowley felt well enough to don his uniform and join his BALTIMORE teammates in the dugout. Crowley had a 101° temperature from a virus and Pitcher Jim Palmer did not want him spreading germs around. But by the eighth inning Palmer was fumigating in the shower and Crowley was needed to help the ailing Birds. He came through with a pinch single, the key hit in a three-run rally as the Orioles won 3-2. "Base hits," Crowley said, "always make you feel better."
Manager Eddie Kasko of BOSTON was looking for a way to wake up a team that had not homered in 11 games, so he instituted a bed check—and found the Sox all neatly tucked in. In turn they tucked away Texas, 3-0, in 10 innings. Then, after a five-day layoff and 377 team at bats, Rico Petrocelli lofted a Jim Kaat pitch into the left-field net at Boston for the team's first home run. The Twins won anyway, 5-2, and followed with a 3-2 victory the next day despite another Sox homer, this one by Tommy Harper. Norm Cash of DETROIT is keeping the secret of his five-homer hitting and .333 average under his hat. It is a yellowing newspaper clipping he has had taped there for a year. The story is about why Cash was in a slump and it had something to say about his temper. "Just say I'm swinging the bat well," Cash says now. "I don't want to talk about it. I've got a new motto this year: 'No popping off.' " When Gay-lord Perry of CLEVELAND faced the Rangers, Manager Ted Williams complained that Perry's first pitch was a spitter. Warned, and maybe rattled, his Rangers struck out 12 tunes and Perry won 4-2. Later, against the White Sox, he had a three-hitter in a 12-0 triumph. It was his fourth win in six decisions as the Indians got off to their best start in six years, NEW YORK'S team batting average fell to .212 on a Western swing against the A's, and Fritz Peterson lost his fourth game, 3-1. He and Mel Stottlemyre had a combined 1-7 record, MILWAUKEE was doing just as badly with seven losses in its last eight games, including three Straight shutouts.
DET 9-6 BALT 9-7 CLEV 9-7 NY 5-10 BOST 4-9 MIL 3-10
It was a fortnight of improbable events for defending divisional champion SAN FRANCISCO. The Giants got just two victories in a 13-game stay at home. Giant pitching, as someone said, was "Marichal, McDowell, throw in the towel." But what Owner Horace Stoneham and Manager Charlie Fox were thinking of throwing in was none other than Willie Mays—and his $165,000 salary. It was all quite basic: the Giants need pitchers, the Mets have prospects in their farm system and would like to platoon Mays at first and in the outfield. And sell tickets. Troubled as the Giants were, McDowell, his fastball humming again, struck out nine Phillies in a 3-1 four-hitter. HOUSTON continued to roll as Jim Wynn beat the Cubs with his sixth homer. He hit only seven last season. Wynn says the difference is teammate Lee May. "Last year they would pitch me any way—high, low, wide or inside. If I walked, it didn't matter too much. Now I'm seeing a lot of good pitches. They don't want to walk me with Lee coming up." Manager Walter Alston of LOS ANGELES, always a basketball fan, is happy he has a Bill Russell of his own. This Russell, not the goateed, 6'10" variety, stepped in at shortstop when Maury Wills managed only six hits in 48 at bats. Russell got 15 hits in 25 trips, drove in 11 runs and rapped out three doubles and two homers. "Russell isn't going to hit .500," Alston said, "but he'll do all right." ATLANTA pitching was horrible. In a nightmarish visit to Chicago only Ron Schueler and Steve Barber managed to work an inning or more without allowing at least a run. Barber was given his release later in the week. But, of course, the beat goes on for Henry Aaron, who hit home runs 5 and 6 and closed to within one of Willie Mays' present total of 646. Manager Don Zimmer got hack to fundamentals with a morning practice session for SAN DIEGO and the Padres won their next four games. Steve Arlin pitched back-to-back shutouts and his ERA was 0.95. CINCINNATI decided to play roulette with its faltering pitching staff after Don Gullett was sidelined with hepatitis. Youngsters Ross Grimsley and Wayne Simpson were recalled from Indianapolis, and Jim Merritt, a 20-game winner two years ago, was sent down.
HOUS 12-6 LA 12-7 SD 9-11 CIN 8-10 ATL 8-12 SF 7-14
Division leader NEW YORK was streaking; then came a weekend home stand against San Diego. I he Padres beat Jerry Koosman and next took on Tom Seaver, who had won his fourth game of the season five days earlier in San Francisco. Seaver was seeking the 100th victory of his career against the Padres, a team he had beaten 10 straight times. It was 2-all in the top of the eighth when the Padres finally exploded. Enzo Hernandez singled and scored when Leron Lee dumped an opposite-field double into left-center. Nate Colbert, who has hit three of his six homers off Met pitching, then pounded a high one some 400 feet over the left-center fence and the Padres were on their way to a 6-2 win. "Every time I make a mistake to him he hits it," Seaver said of Colbert. "That is the sign of a good hitter...." A sign that Rick Wise of ST. LOUIS might expect to be in for a good Saturday night was a clubhouse pool in which the pitcher drew Riva Ridge in the Kentucky Derby. Like the horse, Wise broke on top as Joe Torre drove in three runs in a 4-2 victory. The night before Henry Aaron homered off win-less Hob Gibson to beat him 2-1. Gibson was 0-4, the worst start of his career. CHICAGO, despite Joe Pepitone's retirement, scored 32 runs in three games against the Braves as Bill Hands, Ferguson Jenkins and Milt Pappas all won with six-hitters. After Ron Santo broke a small bone in his right wrist in a Houston game, Carmen Fanzone, his replacement at third base, hit two homers in a 6-4 Cub victory. PITTSBURGH continued to falter as Dock Ellis, a 3-2 winner over Houston, first talked about retirement before age 30 and then ended up with Mace in his face and a disorderly-conduct charge after a run-in with a ball park security man at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. PHILADELPHIA (Frank Lucchesi calls his Phillies the Blitz Kids) and MONTREAL, the Met alumni, northern chapter, continued to pressure New York for first place.
NY 11-6 PHIL 12-7 MONT 10-6 CHI 8-11 PITT 7-10 ST. L 7-11