While NEW YORK (page 16) increased its divisional lead and drawing power, CHICAGO, after an awful April, was enjoying May's days, too. The Cubs won four straight (nine of their last 11) as Pitchers Ferguson Jenkins, Bill Hands and Milt Pappas got tough. Cincinnati stole six bases on Pappas but he won anyway, 4-2. "I just didn't pay attention to the runners," he said. "I was too intent on the hitters." The Cubs reached .500 in the standings in a series with their "cousins," the Braves, whom they have out-scored 34-2 this season, PHILADELPHIA beat San Francisco 8-3 and rose to first place for the first time in eight years, a height they maintained for an hour and five minutes before the Mets beat San Diego. Subsequently the Dodgers became the first club to win a 1972 series from the Phillies.
Labor unrest in Quebec shut down hospitals, schools, newspapers and even bridges, and MONTREAL seemed troubled, too. First the Expos lost 5-2 to the Dodgers. Then the Giants won two of three and San Diego took two more. Ken Singleton and Bob Bailey, two of the team's better hitters, were slumping badly. Jim Fairey continued to connect as a pinch hitter. He has five hits and as many RBIs in 10 at bats. Since Lance Clemons of ST. LOUIS, a schoolteacher in the off-season, was pitching, thousands of straight-A Cincinnati students coincidentally were admitted free to observe him. School was out for Clemons in the third inning as the Reds scored five runs. This did not prevent Joe Torre, student of swat, from extending his hitting streak to 11 games and raising his average to .372. PITTSBURGH, finally on the move, defeated Houston twice and won five of its six games. The Pirates exploded for five runs in the 12th inning of one game in the Astrodome.
NY 16-7 PHIL 14-10 MONT 12-11 CHI 11-11 PITT 11-11 ST. L 10-14
May 21, 1972
The Dodgers were loose. Standing in the aisle of the LOS ANGELES bus on the way from Philadelphia Airport to the team's hotel, Frank Robinson called over to Manager Walter Alston. "Hey, Skip," he said, "we're shaking up this club. You and me, Skip, you and me." Robinson told Pitcher Claude Os-teen that the Dodgers would have to be sharp to beat the fine Phillie lefthander, Steve Carlton. Dull would have been O.K. Carlton fielded Osteen's sacrifice bunt in the third inning and threw past the first baseman's head. Then Osteen and Bobby Valentine scored when Rightfielder Mike Anderson threw the ball into the Dodger dugout. A two-out single by Osteen himself in the fourth accounted for the last LA run in an easy 3-1 victory as the Dodgers went 1½ games ahead of HOUSTON. Slumping after a beautiful start, the Astros lost eight of 12 games. "We have just stopped hitting," said Manager Harry Walker. One reason was the loss of Lee May with a pulled hamstring muscle. But Shortstop Roger Metzger was healthy. He hit his first major league home run off Bob Gibson in St. Louis to add to the indignities Gibson has suffered this spring. After rapping out nine home runs and 21 RBIs in SAN DIEGO'S first 25 games, newly svelte Nate Colbert gave the credit to another weight watcher, the Cardinals' Joe Torre. Colbert lost 24 pounds between seasons and now weighs 214. "I noticed last year that Torre could handle the good inside fastball, something he could never do before," Colbert says. "This season I'm a lot quicker myself."
In CINCINNATI, Manager Sparky Anderson was delighted to note the zip has returned to Wayne Simpsons fastball. "He has the old thunder," Anderson said. "That ball is really taking off." In 11 innings Simpson allowed just one earned run. Two star—of the league. Henry Aaron of ATLANTA and Juan Marichal of SAN FRANCISCO, were having problems, at least temporarily. Aaron had a sore neck. Marichal had a record that was a pain: 1-6. It was the worst start of Ins 13-year career.
LA 16-10 HOUS 13-10 SD 12-13 CIN 10-13 ATL 9-15 SF 9-18
That quiet, very business man in the CLEVELAND uniform is Alex Johnson. He is one of the reasons that the Indians are pushing DETROIT for first place in the division. "Alex has given 100%," said Manager Ken Aspromonte. "He is a leader on this team. The players are awed by his talent. Talent is leadership, not backslapping or talk." His California Angel troubles of a year ago seemingly behind him, Johnson still is a loner in Cleveland. Said Catcher Ray Fosse, "It's his way not to show outwardly how he feels. He would rather let his bat speak for him. That's fine with me." Thus far Johnson was talking four homers and 15 RBIs, the best individual performance on a surprising team. Manager Ralph Houk of NEW YORK let his tongue speak for him in an attempt to jolt the staggering Yankees. After suffering through five defeats in six games on the road and learning that Centerfielder Bobby Murcer injured his shoulder during some horseplay at a hotel in Minnesota, Houk called a team meeting. Funny how much better Murcer's shoulder suddenly felt, and Pitchers Steve Kline and Mel Stottlemyre got the message as the Yankees won 6-3 and 3-0. Carl Yastrzemski returned home from a BOSTON road trip after suffering a ligament tear in his right knee in a collision With Catcher Art Kusnyer of the Angels. "I was just getting my swing into a groove," said Yastrzemski, who had been hitting.164. He will be sidelined for a month.
Baltimore, 1-6 away and 10-4 at home, managed only 18 hits in four games. At least two players think the team misses Frank Robinson. "When Frank was here." said Catcher Andy Etchebarren, "we knew he always was a threat to put the ball out of the park, even when he wasn't hitting well." Merv Rettenmund adds, "Maybe a few of us are trying too hard because Frank isn't here. But I don't think that is going to affect a whole club at the same time." MILWAUKEE, despite a 22-inning win over the Twins, remained in last place.
DET 12-7 CLEV 13-8 BALT 11-10 BOST 8-11 NY 8-13 MIL 6-13
The marathon dancing in They Shoot Hones, Don't They? has nothing on the 37 innings of baseball that MINNESOTA and the Brewers played over some 22 hours. First there was a 21-inning night game that was suspended with the score 3-3. Action resumed the next day, just like cricket, and lasted one inning as Milwaukee won 4-3. The regularly scheduled game that followed went 15 innings and it looked as if the Twins would lose again: they were down to their last out, trailing 4-3 with no one on base. But Jim Nettles walked and Eric Soderholm, who had been the next-to-last out in the 22-inning game, hit a fastball for a game-winning homer.
Question: What's the difference between the Denny McLain fastball of his 31-win year and the one he throws today? Answer by First Baseman Duane Josephson of the Red Sox: "Twenty miles an hour." OAKLAND's McLain, who is 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA, might be dropped from the starting rotation when Vida Blue starts pitching again. "McLain's ball," says Josephson, "comes up to the plate as straight as a string." John Odom, recovering from elbow trouble, pitched five scoreless innings in a 3-0 shutout of Milwaukee and Rollie Fingers relieved him flawlessly. Three CALIFORNIA starters. Andy Messersmith, Nolan Ryan and Clyde Wright, were hurt, bad news for a struggling team. Messersmith strained a tendon on the middle linger of his throwing hand and Ryan pulled a groin muscle. although the Angels beat Boston 5-1 in the game in which he was injured. Wright had a sore left shoulder which left Manager Del Rice thinking of Relievers Eddie Fisher and Lloyd Allen as spot starters. Another pitcher with problems was Pete Broberg of TEXAS. A scoreless game at Baltimore was in the bottom of the ninth and the bases loaded with one out when Brooks Robinson grounded to Third Baseman Dave Nelson. Nelson's throw home forced out one runner, but when Catcher Ken Snarez tried to complete a double play by throwing to first, he slipped on a bat. The ball hit Robinson in the neck and went into right field as the winning run scored. "It's tough to lose that way," Broberg said. CHICAGO sluggers Dick Allen and Bill Melton took extra afternoon batting practice before a night game against the Orioles. The result: Allen hit his fifth home run and Melton his first in a 4-3 victory. KANSAS CITY continued to struggle, partly because Amos Otis, a .301 hitter in 1971, was under .200. "Some of the guys think they have to carry the whole team and swing for a home run every time," said Manager Bob Lemon.
MINN 15-5 OAK 12-7 CHI 12-9 TEX 10-12 CAL 8-14 KC 8-14