Mickey Lolich went nine innings Thursday for the 15th time this season as first-place Detroit beat the Royals 6-4. It was Lolich's 15th win against six losses and his seventh complete game in his last eight starts. Can he reach 30, like famed ex-teammate Denny McLain? "I've pitched some 180 innings [182 to be precise] with half a season to go. I'm tired and I admit it," he said. "Winning 30 is too much."
Baltimore was having a fairly easy time against the strong teams but falling flat against the supposed weak sisters: the Orioles were a sad 24-26 against the bottom four clubs in each division. "We're just not hitting," lamented Manager Earl Weaver.
Boston Shortstop Rico Petrocelli, who is having eye difficulties, announced he would have a sty removed during the All-Star break. But Shortstop Juan Beniquez was having worse problems, making six errors in two games (an AL record) and scaring box-seat holders with his wild throws as the Red Sox played a .500 week. By contrast, another infielder in the division, Celerino Sanchez of New York, was fielding beautifully at third base and hitting well, too. His .282 average was some solace in a 3-4 week.
No telling where Cleveland would be without Gaylord (Mr. Moist) Perry. Friday night he earned his 15th victory by shutting out the Rangers for 13 innings before getting help in the 14th in a 2-0 win. Four of his seven losses have been by one run. "We want to win so badly for Gaylord that we press," said Buddy Bell. "I never saw a ballplayer like him, and I probably never will again. He won't let himself lose."
Milwaukee's John Briggs hit two homers, one of them a grand slam, against the Angels Friday. The next day, chasing a long fly ball in the ninth inning, he crashed into the left-field wall and had to be hospitalized. It was typical of Milwaukee's season. The Brewers' 31-46 record is the league's worst.
DET 45-35 BALT 44-36 BOST 37-39 NY 37-40 CLEV 34-45 MIL 31-46
Oakland lost three at home and Manager Dick Williams decided to do some screaming and stomping—at which he has few peers. He called a clubhouse meeting and blistered ears for 20 minutes. "Mistakes happen, but stupid baseball won't be tolerated," he said. "I don't like lazy baseball." The A's then swept four from New York.
Four Chicago regulars were hobbled by injuries, but at least Dick Allen's sore toe did not bother him for long. He hurt it Wednesday, then came back to go four for five Friday and get his 19th homer and 60th RBI of the year. Carlos May had a fumble festival in the field, including one fly ball in Cleveland that he juggled into a home run.
In its last seven games Minnesota's muted attack came to life with 49 runs. Bert Blyleven appreciated the resurrection more than anybody. Blyleven had pitched 25 innings without the Twins scoring a run for him. Then, against the Brewers, the Twins got six in one inning to set up an easy victory.
At one point in the week Kansas City's outfield of Richie Scheinblum, Lou Piniella and Amos Otis ranked one-two-three in league batting, but 245-pound Relief Pitcher Ken Wright got some attention, too. He did a good job against the Orioles Monday, fell from grace by walking in the winning Oriole run on four pitches Tuesday and earned a save Friday versus the Tigers. "They may laugh when they see him come in," says Manager Bob Lemon, "but that's before they have to bat against him."
"Sending a batter out to face Nolan Ryan at twilight is the same thing as capital punishment," said Boston Manager Eddie Kasko after the California hurler had beaten the Bosox 3-0, set an AL record by striking out eight in a row and becoming the 14th pitcher in history to strike out a side on nine pitches. Friday night Milwaukee beat Ryan 7-3 and ended his scoreless-inning streak at 23. Texas, hurting plenty already, lost Pitcher Jim Shellenback with a broken right ankle.
OAK 51-30 CHI 45-37 MINN 42-37 KC 41-40 CAL 37-45 TEX 34-48
"Pittsburgh is the best team I've seen since I've been in the game," said the Braves' Henry Aaron, but to Pirate Manager Bill Virdon it is merely "the best hitting club I've ever seen." To illustrate: Vic Davalillo, a benchwarmer, was hitting .361, tops in the league. The division leaders were also getting perfect fireman duty from Dave Giusti, who shut out the Astros for two innings Saturday to preserve a 5-1 win. It was his 17th straight scoreless relief appearance.
New York called up Dave Schneck from the Memphis Blues to be the 13th Met outfielder this season. The Vietnam vet, who had been leading the Texas League with 24 home runs, hit a two-run homer in his third major league at bat to help Tom Seaver beat the Padres 3-2 Friday night.
Bob Gibson hit his 20th career home run and helped himself and St. Louis to a 7-0 win over the Braves. It was his ninth consecutive victory and 53rd career shutout. The Cards' Lou Brock continued his hot hitting, in spite of using borrowed bats. He rapped out five hits Tuesday swinging a Donn Clendenon model. Chicago's Billy Williams was even hotter, especially in a joyous Tuesday doubleheader against the Astros. "Mr. Williams," as teammate Joe Pepitone calls him, went eight for eight, including a homer in each game and four RBIs. "It was a week's work in one day," marveled Manager Leo Durocher. Williams averaged .613 for the week, but it was that one-day week he wanted to talk about. "I've never had eight for eight, even in the Little League," he said.
Montreal ended the week winning two from the Dodgers. Balor Moore enjoyed his first major league win Friday night, 9-1, but Manager Gene Mauch was just as involved in the battle as Moore himself. Mauch aggravated a muscle in his right leg charging the umpire to dispute a play in the ninth inning. Philadelphia, 22 games back, took out its anger on the Giants Saturday, scoring 11 runs in the seventh inning. The San Francisco nightmare lasted 48 minutes.
PITT 50-30 NY 47-33 ST. L 42-38 CHI 43-40 MONT 36-44 PHIL 29-53
Cincinnati started the week by losing a doubleheader to the Cubs before 52,116 fans, the biggest crowd in the city's long baseball history. Then the Reds got busy and made themselves into an artistic as well as financial success by sweeping a three-game series from Pittsburgh. The Pirates were shut out twice, 5-0 by Jack Billingham (making his first start in 13 days) and 2-0 by Gary Nolan, who became the league's first 13-game winner. Johnny Bench had three homers and six hits off the Pirates in two nights. Perhaps Henry Aaron's "best team ever" was slightly short of that after all.
Houston, on the other hand, could not handle Pittsburgh, which is nothing new. The Astros have a combined 17-68 record in Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium. Losses 67 and 68 came Friday and Saturday. Part of the trouble was that Cesar Cedeno and his .345 batting average were missing from the Astro lineup. He was suffering from a groin muscle pull.
Los Angeles had a depressing week. The club's plane was grounded in Philadelphia Wednesday night as a security measure against hijacking. Then the Dodgers gave up 17 hits to the Expos Friday in a 9-1 loss and fell to Montreal again Saturday 3-2. Atlanta, too, was depressed, mostly because of injuries as Outfielder Ralph Garr bruised a heel and Second Baseman Felix Millan reinjured a hamstring muscle. Pitcher Tom Kelley hurt an ankle again and was ineffective in one game, Outfielder Dusty Baker caught a virus and Rico Carty was sidelined with tendinitis etc., sob, etc. Trying anything to stop San Francisco's slide a few weeks ago, Manager Charlie Fox sent Bobby Bonds out to present the lineup card. Since then the Giants have won 15 of 20 and Bonds is one of those chiefly responsible, but not just by running errands. Friday night he had his biggest game, getting a homer, triple, two singles and a walk in five at bats against Philly.
San Diego's Leron Lee was hit by a Montreal pitch for the second time this season. The first time he was knocked out. This time his right middle finger was broken. Lee said of Expo Manager Gene Mauch: "I'll get him someday, and he knows it."
CIN 50-31 HOUS 48-36 LA 42-40 ATL 38-45 SF 37-50 SD 30-52