The Mets won their usual four of six as Rusty Staub got his seventh home run, Tom Seaver pitched his eighth win, John Milner hit three home runs and Jon Matlack tossed a shutout. Lower-echelon St. Louis and Philadelphia were the principal victims. All that made happiness incomplete for big crowds at Shea Stadium was the absence of home runs by either Willie Mays or visiting Brave Henry Aaron, tied for second place behind Babe Ruth's 714 at 648.
Equally routinely, Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia on Memorial Day, 7-3 and 4-2, bringing its record against lefthanders to 8-0. But the Pirates did lose the opener of a series at Montreal and San Francisco. Among other exploits by Pirate bats were Willie Stargell's ninth and 10th homers.
The poor Chicago Cubs have won 21 of 30 games since April 28, when they were six games out, and now they are seven back as the Mets and Pirates keep sailing along. Jose Cardenal had six home runs and 28 RBIs and Billy Williams hit two home runs while Cardenal also staged a spectacular slide into home to win another.
Montreal pulled off a triple play against Houston, Bill Stoneman allowed the Astros only four hits in 10 innings and Outfielder Boots Day, after going 1 for 4, singled home the run that won a tense game 1-0. The preceding day Lee May murdered the Expos. He singled twice, doubled and homered. One broken-bat blow not only went for a hit, but the meat end of the bat nearly wiped out the Montreal dugout.
Floundering Philadelphia replaced General Manager John Quinn after 13-plus seasons with Farm Director Paul Owens, but, as Pitcher Dick Selma noted, "The way this club is going, you could get us Roberto Clemente and he might hit .210." Sure enough, the Phils thereupon dropped a 6-5, 10-inning decision to the Reds, their 17th defeat in 18 games. The Cardinals lost their 14th one-run game, 1-0 to Los Angeles, when Scipio Spinks left his lucky stuffed gorilla at home. Numerous fire trucks converged on the Cards' hotel after the game. False alarm. The Cards aren't hot.
NY 31-12 PITT 25-16 CHI 23-18 MONT 19-23 PHIL 16-27 ST. L 16-28
Lean, laconic Jim Brewer may have been born in Merced, Calif., but he talks, acts and looks pure Oklahoma—Broken Arrow, Okla., which is where he grew up. Batters wish he would go back there and fall in an oil well. Probably the most professional reliever in the majors. Brewer pitched or warmed up in every game of the Dodgers' road trip, on which they won five and lost two. He allowed just one hit in his last four appearances. And Brewer wants to pitch more. "If I go an inning or two, I could pitch eight or 10 days in a row," he says.
For the Reds it was raining splinters off the old Bench. Johnny had 13 hits, 13 RBIs, seven homers and 10 runs against Houston and Philadelphia. His Cincinnati compadres swept the Astro series with 39 runs and 44 hits. "He's letting his hands do the work instead of trying to muscle the ball," Manager Sparky Anderson explained.
Almost unbeatable in previous years on the Astrodome's canned grass, Houston inexplicably lost the last six games of this home stand. But at alien outdoors Montreal, Lee May—who batted .486 with seven homers against the Expos last year—continued his road streak and the Astros snapped their losing string 7-1. "There is no way to pitch to May when he's on a tear," Montreal Manager Gene Mauch said. "Name your top hitters and he's all of them put together."
Loyal Paul Richards, who had asked to be fired instead of his manager, got his wish—almost. The Atlanta head man was demoted to what Owner Bill Bartholomay called "super-super scout," although the Braves had won nine of their last 13. "Paul is freed of the responsibility of being around the office," Bartholomay said.
After the Padres had waited all last year and part of this for Tom Phoebus to win his first game at San Diego Stadium, he finally did on June 3—for the Chicago Cubs. "That's typical of the way things are going for us," said Don Zimmer as San Diego lost 10 of 11.
LA 28-17 CIN 26-18 HOUS 25-19 ATL 19-23 SD 16-28 SF 17-32
Money player Norm Cash finally rang up the first home run in nine games for the normally power-rich Tigers. Three batters later, Mickey Stanley hit another, but Detroit still had to wait until the 10th inning to beat Cleveland—on a sacrifice fly. It was the second extra-inning win of the week for Reliever Fred Scherman, but the Tigers also lost 1-0 to Gaylord Perry on the first opposition homer in 74 innings.
Brooks Robinson, the American League synonym for third base, had committed seven errors, had not hit a homer in 39 games and actually got benched in one game with the A's and Vida Blue, against whom he hits under .200. Feeling a little naked, the rest of the Baltimore lineup redoubled its efforts and beat Blue 5-1 behind Jim Palmer.
A slump was beginning to plague Cleveland morale. As the Indians lost their ninth in 10 games, Third Baseman Graig Nettles and Shortstop Eddie Leon were angry about being platooned. "My fielding is bad but it shouldn't affect the rest of the team unless I loaf or dog it," Nettles said, adding, "I don't and I never will."
The high points of an even 4-4 week for New York were two: taking a doubleheader from Detroit, 5-1 and 4-2, and beating Chicago in 13 innings, 18-10. In that wild 13th, Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer each hit a home run with two men on.
Besides beating Baltimore twice, once on Ray Culp's three-hit shutout, Boston polished off Milwaukee three out of four but lost two to Kansas City.
Whether or not Dave Bristol deserved to be fired as manager, Milwaukee was fired up. The Brewers won four of their first six under Del Crandall, hit .315, got a one-hitter from Skip Lockwood and beat the Yankees in the 12th inning with four walks after earlier hitting four home runs.
DET 23-17 BALT 21-18 CLEV 19-19 NY 18-22 BOST 16-21 MIL 15-22
Oakland kept winning (five of seven), even though Vida Blue, a remarkable 10-1 at this time last year, finished the week 0-2. Blue is a fast low-ball pitcher when in form. When not—and he wasn't—he throws higher and slower. Pitcher Ken Holtzman, a prime force behind the A's momentum, beat the Orioles 4-2 on Mike Epstein's two-run homer.
Harmon Killebrew hit the 521st homer of his career (and sixth of the season), tying Ted Williams for sixth on the alltime list, but Minnesota lost to Detroit 5-3. Earlier, Phil Roof, 10,000th or so on the alltime list, hit two in one game to beat Kansas City 3-2. And on both the next two nights Eric Soderholm (five career home runs) hit homers, winning one game.
Chicago's "Gasp-house Gang" ran out of breath and the White Sox lost five out of seven in California. The Sox were 17-3 at home and 6-14 on the road, batting .281 at White Sox Park and .201 away.
Leroy Stanton is making California's end of the Jim Fregosi trade look better and better. Stanton has driven in 19 runs, smashed five home runs and raised his batting average from .136 to .260 in the last 12 games. He hit another homer Saturday, but the biggest part of that 8-4 win—the Angels' eighth in the last nine—was due to Sandy Alomar, whose 4 for 5 upped his average to .292. After losing four of five on the road, Kansas City won three in a row and Lou Piniella became the top batsman in the league at .338.
Texas couldn't even come in out of the rain. Losers of 11 of their last 13, the Rangers fell behind 4-0 in the first inning against Milwaukee and tried to stall as a storm approached. The game took five hours. Result: Rangers lose 7-5.
OAK 26-13 MINN 23-15 CHI 23-17 CAL 20-23 KC 16-24 TEX 17-26