Most of the talk was about 34-year-old Lou Brock, the larcenous Card. Five more stolen bases increased his total to 22, well ahead of Maury Wills' pace when he filched a record 104 in 1962. "The only reason Brock might, slow down," said Montreal Manager Gene Mauch, "would be so that he wouldn't hit both doors going into the Hall of Fame." St. Louis was also stealing hits from opposing batters as former Red Sox Lynn McGlothen and John Curtis threw back-to-back shutouts and the Cardinals won three of five. Reggie Smith, another Red Sox alumnus, was hitting .372 and was league runner-up in RBIs.
New York won four of seven, and Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman together had just one loss in nine decisions. But Tom Seaver (1-4) and George Stone (0-3) couldn't get going, although the Mets managed to climb to fourth. Perhaps they might have benefited from the mind-expanding experience of Philadelphia Pitchers Dick Ruthven and Jim Lonborg, whose wins led the Phillies into a tie for first. After beating both the Dodgers and Pirates, Ruthven disclosed that he had been a "mental midget" last year as a rookie. "Things would snowball," Ruthven said. "People around here thought I was insane. Now I'm relaxed. No more getting excited." Lonborg shut out the Padres 4-0 and credited teammate Steve Carlton for having taught him to think positively.
All Chicago, Montreal and Pittsburgh could think of was staying above water. The Cubs left 24 men on base in two losses to New York and Burt Hooton's ERA ballooned to 6.62. Pirate pitchers allowed three runs or less in every game but one, but their batters only once had more than six hits. That was when a 14-hit Pirate attack went for naught in a loss to Houston. Montreal's Steve Rogers (5-1) pitched his fourth complete game to beat St. Louis 5-4 and break a 1-9 team slump.
ST. L 16-14 PHIL 16-14 MONT 12-11 NY 13-17 CHI 11-15 PITT 9-18
Cincinnatians were becoming a bit red-faced, and it wasn't just from chilly temperatures. As the defending champs lost three of four at home and went 21 innings without scoring, Tony Perez was 1 for 14, Joe Morgan 0 for 12, Pete Rose 1 for 12 and Dave Concepcion 2 for 11. Even when the Reds got it together, it fell apart. Fred Norman struck out 13 Cardinals but deprived himself of a possible win when he threw wildly to first, the Cardinals taking that game 1-0. As a further embarrassment, two Riverfront spectators ran around the infield and another knocked the wind out of Umpire Satch Davidson by hitting him in the back with a can of beer. "We've got a club that doesn't play well in bad weather," said Manager Sparky Anderson. "The Dodgers go home from spring training, have good weather and good pitching and are off and running."
He seemed to have a point. In the chill, moist East for a few games, Los Angeles handed Philadelphia a series when Mike Marshall walked home two runs in the ninth inning. Rained out twice in Montreal, the Dodgers returned to California and swept three straight, the sweetest win Don Sutton's 6-0, one-hit shutout of San Diego.
Tom Griffin's one-hitter and four-hitter, and three timely drives by league batting leader Greg Gross against the Reds helped keep Houston in second with a 3-3 week. San Francisco won six of seven, getting complete games from Mike Caldwell and Tom Bradley, and took third. The bad news was talk of trading Bobby Bonds.
With a circus coming to Atlanta Stadium, the Braves had a step on the clowns. A ball hit by the Giants' Garry Maddox struck a clump of dirt, hopped over the glove of First Baseman Frank Tepedino and beat the Braves 5-4. Next day the Braves erred four times in an 8-7 loss to the Giants.
"The Padres will draw 30,000 when they get home," said a San Diego writer while viewing a game in New York's Shea Stadium. This was in the ninth inning as the Padres were on the verge of sweeping a doubleheader from the Mets. Alas, New York's Ken Boswell singled home a run to send the game into extra innings and John Milner won it for the Mets, 6-4, with a two-run homer in the 11th. Nevertheless 18,486 were on hand in San Diego stadium to witness a homecoming shutout by the Dodgers.
LA 22-9 HOUS 20-13 SF 18-14 CIN 13-14 ATL 13-18 SD 14-20
The Orioles were not making sense. There was Brooks Robinson, no terror at the plate the last couple of years, batting .327. There was Brooks Robinson the Golden Glove—with seven errors. There was Ross Grimsley, survivor of a bleak spring training, beating Oakland 9-3 in his third complete game. And there was Mike Cuellar, who warms up with the weather, defeating the A's 6-3. "Cuellar is our stopper," said Manager Earl Weaver in wonderment. "In Oakland. In May." The Orioles gratefully accepted four victories and moved into second.
In Milwaukee there was little to be thankful for. The Brewers went head to head with Buck telecasts three times, played in miserable weather and suffered with 20-game winner Jim Colborn in his agonizing slump. A 1-3 record, 7.29 ERA and a diminishing fastball have reduced him to talking about "mental toughness." The Brewers fell into last place 11 days after they were in first.
New York supposedly traded away its pitching in that April 26 deal with Cleveland. Still, the Yanks clung to first because Dick Tidrow, the one pitcher they got in return, won twice. Three of the four mound men New York parted with excelled for the Indians. Tom Buskey and Fred Beene pitched sound relief and Fritz Peterson won as Cleveland took four of seven.
Boston television viewers complained to station WBZ that the last-place Red Sox were pre-empting better shows, e.g., The Little House on the Prairie. There wasn't much the Red Sox could do about that but win—four of six to rise to fifth. Bill Lee maintained his stainless (6-0) record against New York with a 4-0 win, first shutout of the season for the vaunted Boston pitching staff.
When Detroit Pitcher Lerrin LaGrow lost to Minnesota on April 23, he grouched, "That's not the last 1-0 game I'm going to lose this season." On May 7 he lost to the White Sox by the same score on Ed Herrmann's 11th-inning homer.
NY 18-15 BALT 15-13 CLEV 15-15 DET 14-14 BOS 14-16 MIL 11-13
While Texas struggled through a losing, but not dispiriting week (page 28), another longshot, California, stayed in contention despite winning only twice. The Angels moved to within three percentage points of division-leading Chicago when Nolan Ryan set down Kansas City 2-1 on four hits. Going in, Ryan had a disappointing 3-3 record and 5.37 ERA. When a photographer pointed out that he was not bringing his arm down as he used to on his follow-through, he adjusted and, among other improvements, struck out 10 Royals. Another apt learner, Wilbur Wood of the White Sox, watched himself on a videotape machine, saw a flaw in his stride, corrected it and beat Detroit l-O for his first shutout since May 28, 1973. Additional news from the classroom: Chicago's Terry Forster was taught a screwball by teammate Jim Kaat and blanked the Tigers over 8‚Öî innings.
Was there no pitcher who could just rear back and throw? Yes, there was—Kansas City's Marty Pattin. After beating Texas 6-1 for his first win of the year, he said, "I've been trying too much fancy stuff, so I went back to what got me where I am, throwing strikes." In one four-inning stretch he threw nothing but. "I've been in pro baseball 24 years," said Texas Manager Billy Martin, "and I've never seen anything like that." Believing went with seeing as the Royals won three straight.
Minnesota's 14-4 record against Oakland last year helped make the Twins a respectable .500 team. Came the first series of 1974 against the disrespectful A's, and the Twins dropped two straight. Vida Blue finally won a game for Oakland—7-3 over Baltimore—and said, "That was important for my head. After four losses, you wonder whether you're still alive." Deron Johnson, who had missed two weeks because of a hand injury, belted three homers and helped the A's to a 4-3 week. Then Reggie Jackson spoiled the celebration by pulling a hamstring.
CHI 14-13 CAL 16-15 TEX 16-15 OAK 15-15 KC 13-15 MINN 12-14