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BASEBALL'S WEEK
Les Woodcock
May 11, 1959
AMERICAN LEAGUE
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May 11, 1959

Baseball's Week

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STARS OF THE SEASON

 

American League

National League

THE BEST PITCHERS

Games won

Kemmerer, Wash 4-1

Burdette, Mil 4-0

Complete games

7 with 3

Burdette, Mil 4

Hits per game

Score, Clev 6.00

Sanford, SF 6.21

Walks per game

Ditmar, NY 1.29

Haddix, Pitt 1.50

SOs per game

Score, Clev 10.50

Drysdale, LA 8.54

Runs per game

Shaw, Chi 0.95

Anderson, Chi 2.16

THE BEST HITTERS

Percentage

Fox, Chi .405

Aaron, Mil .485

Home runs

Killebrew, Wash 7
(1 per 9 AB)

Mathews, Mil 8
(1 per 8 AB)

Extra base hits

Skowron, NY 11

Aaron, Mil 15

Runs scored

Power, Clev 17

Mathews, Mil 18

THE BEST PERFORMANCE PER GAME

Most runs

Cleveland 6.31

Cincinnati 7.24

Fewest opp. runs

Cleveland 3.25

San Francisco 3.88

Most hits

2 with 9.41

Cincinnati 10.47

Fewest opp. hits

Cleveland 7.06

San Francisco 7.72

Most HRs

Cleveland 1.56

Cincinnati 1.53

Fewest opp. HRs

Kansas City 0.67

San Francisco 0.72

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The Cleveland Indians continued to raise hopes that this would, indeed, be the year the Yankees lose the pennant. By winning two straight from the defending champs (see page 70), the Indians proved' to the world what they themselves knew all along—Cleveland will have to be taken seriously this season. The punchless Chicago White Sox left even more men on base (27) than usual in a two-game split with the Yanks, when the flu knocked over all the team's left-handed pinch hitters. But against the Red Sox, cagey old (39) Early Wynn didn't bother about men left on base. In the eighth inning he whacked a home run to win a sparkling, 14-strikeout, one-hit, 1-0 game. The Red Sox' only hit came in the first inning when Pete Runnels singled past second, base. Moments earlier Wynn had told Shortstop Luis Aparicio to move two steps to his right on the batter. "He have no-hitter if he don't move me over," said Aparicio. "If I play Runnels where I want, I throw him out easy." The Baltimore Orioles were hurting where they least expected to—in pitching. Two of last year's big winners—Portocarrero and Harshman—had yet to win while losing six between them. Hoyt Wilhelm, whose dancing knuckleball flutters even more on windy days, continued to be the Orioles' big stopper: the wind was blowing in Kansas City, and Hoyt won 3-1. The Kansas City Athletics had good pitching and hitting, plus a Stengelian hunch by Manager Harry Craft. Craft sent slumping bench warmer Harry Simpson up to pinch hit, and the loose-limbed Simpson hit a game-winning homer. "He looked very sharp in batting practice," revealed Craft. The Washington Senators looked less and less like a last-place team. Lightweight, light-hitting Ron Samford had never before hit a home run in his patchwork big league career. Last week he hit two and batted .320, as the pills, shots and a syrupy potion he takes to build himself up began to take effect. Harmon, Killebrew, a bonus baby disappointment for years, bashed four homers in two days to take over the league lead. Bill Fischer, who played on three different teams last year, changed his pitching style—more sliders and changeups, fewer sinkers—and gave up only one earned run in 28 innings. The Boston Red Sox finally got the left-handed pitcher they needed so badly when they traded for the Tigers' Billy Hoeft. But with Ted Lepcio gone in the trade, Vic Wertz laid up, Gene Stephens out with a broken arm, and Ted Williams still ailing, the Sox bench is worn thin. Negro minor leaguer Pumpsie Green may get his chance to play in Boston sooner than he expects. The seventh-place New York Yankees (yes, seventh place, and the year is 1959, not 1925) found out that Cleveland and Chicago aren't going to play dead this year. Neither Stengel magic nor good pitching could offset the mysterious loss of the Yankees' traditional knack for always getting the opportune hit. The Detroit Tigers' shoddy start could be traced to many things—lack of power, terrible pitching, poor fielding (particularly in center). The front office preferred to place the blame on someone more expendable than players. So Manager Bill Norman, like Jack Tighe last year, was fired and Career Manager Jimmy Dykes (18 seasons with four different teams) was brought in to create a miracle.

Standings: Clev 13-5, Chi 11-8, Balt 11-8, KC 11-8, Wash 11-10, Bost 7-9, NY 7-12, Det 4-15.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

The Milwaukee Braves ' vaunted pitching looked pretty ragged when Spahn and Burdette weren't on the mound (8-2 record for the two veterans; rest of the staff, 2-4). Bill Bruton, the slender centerfielder, has become the second-leading batter on the team (.396), behind Henry Aaron, by spraying hits to all fields with a 36-ounce bat, one of the heaviest in the majors. The Cincinnati Reds made a little pitching go a long way as they boomed 11 home runs, rolled up scores like 18-8, 16-4, to club their way up in the standings. Even weak-hitting Roy McMillan (.229, one HR last season) muscled into the act. Taking a good swing instead of punching the ball, and given the chance to hit away this year by Manager Mayo Smith, Mac is batting close to .300 and has hit three home runs. The San Francisco Giants ' hitting slump ended in Milwaukee after Manager Bill Rigney told the team to start hitting the first ball. Andre Rodgers seemed to be over his early-season jitters and the Giant defense tightened up. Best of all, Willie Mays is hitting again. The Los Angeles Dodgers slipped from the Olympian heights of first place during the week but still had fire in their eyes. Manager Walter Alston explained Dodger success this way: "I think the boys were shamed into winning. They couldn't stand the thoughts of last year and just went out and decided to do something about it." The Chicago Cubs ' young pitching staff turned sour. None of the starters could finish a game. After losing to the Reds, 18-8, bewildered Manager Bob Scheffing said, "You can't figure this out. Not when you score eight runs and get beat by 10. Especially when your pitching has been going good before." The Pittsburgh Pirates, suffering from the unbelievably bad starts of Bob Friend and George Witt (0-7 between them), got a lift when Ron Kline finally won his first game. Kline, who swings a 10-pound iron ball to strengthen his arm, felt so strong after his victory that he offered to pitch batting practice the next day. The Philadelphia Phillies , loaded with question-mark pitchers, were heartened when Gene Conley, the best basketball player in the majors, pitched a full nine innings in relief—allowing no runs and striking out 11. The run-hungry St. Louis Cardinals were shut out for the third time in this young season. (Eight teams in the majors have yet to be shut out, and six have been runless only once.)

Standings: Mil 10-6, Cin 11-8, SF 11-8, LA 12-9, Chi 10-10, Pitt 8-9, Phil 8-10, StL 5-15.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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