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BASEBALL'S WEEK
Peter Carry
June 10, 1968
AMERICAN LEAGUE
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June 10, 1968

Baseball's Week

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

Surprising OAKLAND (4-2) continued to challenge for a first-division spot on the arms of its strong young pitchers. The Athletics' starters, whose average age is just 23, threw six consecutive complete games last week and allowed their opponents only 12 runs. The best performance turned out to be a frustrating one for Chuck Dobson, who pitched a 12-inning five-hitter and struck out 13 but lost when his teammates failed to score. Along with Willie Horton's heavy hitting {below), DETROIT (6-2) also enjoyed excellent pitching, including four-hit shutouts by Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich and long, scoreless relief performances by John Hiller (6? innings) and Pat Dobson (5? innings). Led by Tony Horton (.333 BA with six RBIs), CLEVELAND'S (4-4) hitters gave the superb pitching staff unusually strong support with 30 runs for the week as the Indians rolled up the league's best record for May with a 21-11 mark. Tommy Davis and Pete Ward were both out with injuries, so punchless CHICAGO (5-2) had to scrap harder than ever to score runs. The Sox had excellent pitching in all but one game and picked up three wins in their last at bat, one on a perfect squeeze bunt by Luis Aparicio, another on a Texas League single by Dick Kenworthy and a third on Gerry McNertney's ninth-inning single. Except when rookie Dave Leonhard gained his second shutout in three victories this season, BALTIMORE (3-3) also relied on last-inning runs. Paul Blair clubbed a 10th-inning home run to win one game and Curt Motton's single in the Orioles' last at bat won another. Defending champion BOSTON (3-4) dropped seven games out of the lead despite the heavy hitting of Carl Yastrzemski (.577 BA for the week) and Ken Harrelson (.391 with 10 RBIs and four homers), which accounted for 17 of the Red Sox's 21 runs, WASHINGTON'S (3-3) strong attack scored almost six runs per game, but the pitchers allowed a season high of 38 runs, causing the Senators to fall deeper into the cellar, NEW YORK'S (2-4) Mickey Mantle enjoyed the greatest game of his career on Memorial Day when he went 5 for 5, hit two homers and a double and had five RBIs. CALIFORNIA (2-5) used 24 pitchers in its games but still could not halt a slide to ninth. The Angels scored just six runs in the losses while the pitchers allowed 23. With one homer for the week and a .200 team batting average, MINNESOTA (2-6) was held to a single run or less in all but three games and three times failed to collect as many as five hits.

Standings: Det 30-17, Balt 27-20, Clev 27-22, Minn 24-24, Bos 23-24, Oak 23-24, NY 22-26, Chi 21-25, Cal 22-27, Wash 19-29

NATIONAL LEAGUE

The league's hitters averaged .252 for the week, 17 points higher than their previous percentage for the season. Not surprisingly it was CINCINNATI (4-2), already hitting at a pace 20 points better than any team in the majors, that led the offensive. Sparked by Pete Rose (.462 for the week), Tommy Helms (.462) and Alex Johnson (.417), the Reds batted .290 and four times collected over 10 hits in a game. ST. LOUTS (5-2) broke out of its hitting slump, scoring 23 runs in its last five games and regaining the league lead after dropping as low as fourth place earlier in the week. Pitcher Larry Jaster helped put the Cards on the winning track with a near-perfect game in which he retired the first 23 batters. Ken Holtzman, who did not lose a game in nine decisions for CHICAGO (3-2) last year, missed most of spring training this year and had been hit hard during the early season. Last week he finally looked ready to take up where he left off in '67, as he pitched 19 innings and allowed just four runs and eight hits. Juan Marichal won his eighth and ninth games of the season and Willie Mays won two games with two-run homers, but SAN FRANCISCO (3-3) was shut out twice and dropped from the league lead. HOUSTON (3-3) was another team with improved hitting. Led by Lee Thomas' .400 average for the week, the Astros combined for a .252 team BA, rounding out a three-week batting surge that lifted their team percentage 10 points. ATLANTA (3-2) maintained its position among the challengers on the strong pitching of Pat Jarvis, who threw a four-hitter, and Phil Niekro, who allowed just three hits. With the exception of Don Drysdale, who pitched a record-breaking fifth straight shutout, LOS ANGELES' (3-4) pitching was unusually weak, allowing 34 runs and a startling total of 76 hits in dropping to seventh. For PHILADELPHIA (2-3) Woody Fryman reeled off his fourth straight win with a four-hit shutout, giving the Phillies the advantage in their big winter deal with PITTSBURGH (1-4). Jim Bunning, who went to the Pirates in that trade, was hit hard for the third straight start, this time failing to get past the fifth inning against the Mets. Losing its fourth Sunday doubleheader in four tries, NEW YORK (2-4) fell into the cellar again. The Mets' young pitching staff was still rolling, however, as Jerry Koosman won his eighth of the year and Dick Selma, who barely made the team after going 0-5 in spring training, took his fourth victory without a loss.

Standings: StL 27-21, SF 27-22, Atl 26-22, Chi 25-23, Phil 22-21, Cin 23-23, LA 25-26, Hou 21-26, Pitt 19-24, NY 20-27

HIGHLIGHT

Star Detroit Outfielder Al Kaline was knocked out of action with a broken arm on May 25, and it looked eerily like the same old Tiger pattern: early-season lead, Kaline injury, nosedive and goodby pennant. Detroit's earlier two-game advantage had dwindled to a mere half. Then up stepped stolid Willie Horton, whose 5'10", 200-pound build and hard-swinging right-handed batting style remind old baseball men of the young Roy Campanella. Horton struck the key hits in four games of a five-game Tiger winning streak that boosted the team to the biggest lead (three games) enjoyed by an American League club this season. Averaging .360 for the week with seven runs batted in, the 25-year-old outfielder clouted four home runs, each providing the Tigers with either their winning margin or a game-saving rally. The hittingest Tiger—he ranks in the league's top three in batting (.320), RBIs (31) and homers (15)—Horton is hardly the healthiest. Even as he increased his consecutive-game hitting streak to 14, he limped as a result of a frequently aggravated sore heel. But neither Kaline's injury that increased the pressure on Horton to produce runs nor his own ailments have affected the Detroit slugger's blithe approach to the game. He never reads stories about himself and does not remember opposing players' names. With his tremendous strength, he occasionally nonchalantly clubs his long hits with an unorthodox one-handed swing. When reminded of past achievements Horton often replies, "I can't think about that. That's past and you should never look back." Horton's nonthinking approach to hitting has left the opposition thinking that perhaps Detroit is breaking that old pattern.

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