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BASEBALL'S WEEK
Herman Weiskopf
September 08, 1969
AMERICAN LEAGUE
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September 08, 1969

Baseball's Week

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

Mel Stottlemyre of New York (2-2) came to play and earned his 17th victory, but Joe Pepitone did not come to play and got a $500 fine and an indefinite suspension. Despite suffering a badly bruised leg in his previous start, Stottlemyre insisted on pitching last week and, with the help of four hits by Horace Clarke, he was a winner. As for Pepitone, he twice left the park without permission and paid the consequences, financial and otherwise. Even so, Yankee hopes of wresting fourth place from the Senators were bolstered by the rejuvenation of Al Downing, who has given just three earned runs in 41? innings and last week beat the Royals 6-1. Washington (2-3) batters hit the skids and not much else in their first four games, averaging .216. Even Frank Howard's 41st homer was obscured by another accomplishment—his first stolen base in three years. When it came to woes, it was hard to beat Luis Tiant of Cleveland (0-4). Or maybe it should be said that it was easy to beat Tiant, who lost his seventh straight game and 17th in all. A three-run, eighth-inning homer by Tony Conigliaro gave Boston (4-1) one win over the Royals, and Mike Nagy and Vicente Romo notched others with route-going efforts. Jim Northrup of Detroit (5-1) got the green light on a 3-0 pitch in the 13th inning, and when George Lauzerique of the A's tried to throw a soft "automatic strike" he hit it over the 94-foot-high third deck in Tiger Stadium. Northrup thus became the sixth player to achieve that feat. The homer, his second of the night, was also his sixth hit in six at bats in that game. Chico Salmon of Eastern leader Baltimore (3-3) got a hit-away sign of a different kind from Manager Earl Weaver. With runners on first and third and two out in the 11th of a tie game with the Pilots, Weaver flashed his special bunt-for-a-hit sign. Salmon complied, and the Orioles salted away another game. There were losses, though, and for the second time in six days the Orioles dropped both ends of a doublcheader, this time to California (4-1) as Andy Messersmith and Jim McGlothlin stopped them. The Angels have been 44-44 and have climbed from sixth place to third in the West since Lefty Phillips took over as manager on May 27. Manager Joe Schultz of Seattle (1-4) came out in front 1,249 to 21 in a newspaper poll that asked whether or not he should be rehired. Schultz' popularity did not impress GM Marvin Milkes, who said: "I'm not running a love-in." All sides were impressed, though, with Gene Brabender's four-hit 2-1 win over the Orioles that ended a 10-game losing streak. Oakland (2-4) fell 3� games behind the first-place Twins but was encouraged when Jim Nash, sidelined for almost two months with a bad shoulder, returned and pitched shutout ball. Minnesota (3-2) Manager Billy Martin ordered NBC cameramen and Hubert Humphrey, who was supposed to be interviewed in his clubhouse, off the premises. "How are we going to keep a winning attitude if we have a big time in front of the cameras when we lose?" asked Martin. Then Jim Perry, Dave Boswell and Tom Hall pitched the Twins to victories and cameramen were more than welcome in the clubhouse once again. Chicago (3-1) vacated the cellar and closed in on fourth-place Kansas City (1-4). Backed by three homers, the first by the White Sox in seven games, Joe Horlen won his 10th game. The Royals were bogged down by such things as hitting into five double plays in one game and stranding flocks of runners on base.

Standings—East: Balt 90-43, Det 76-54, Bos 70-60, Wash 67-65, NY 64-65, Clev 54-78. West: Minn 78-52, Oak 74-55, Cal 55-72, KC 52-77, Chi 51-78, Sea 49-80.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Resorting to the bottle has, in a few short weeks, transformed Willie Davis of Los Angeles (4-1) from a glum, ready-to-quit player into a happy, hard-hitting one. The bottle, in Davis' case, is the shape of the bat that he borrowed from teammate Ken Boyer. When Davis began using the bat on Aug. 1, his average was down to .260. Since then he has batted .439, capping his resurgence last week with a nine-for-20 spree that brought his season's average up to .317. What's more, Davis has hit in all 27 games since first picking up the bottle, the longest streak in the league since a 29-game string in 1959. The hitter that time? None other than Ken Boyer. Perhaps even more important to Davis than a change in bats has been his change in attitude. He traces that to the St. Louis-bound flight after he had gone 0 for 6 against the Pirates. "Chuck baseball," he told himself, "I'll make it as a professional golfer." Minutes later, though, he recanted, telling himself, "Give it one more try. I'll concentrate on meeting the ball, forget the fences and see what happens." His outburst with Boyer's 37-ounce bottle, coupled with Claude Osteen's 17th and 18th wins, Bill Singer's 16th win and Tom Haller's clutch hitting, kept the Dodgers in the thick of the Western race. Staying in front of the Dodgers and the rest of the surging pack was not easy, but San Francisco (4-1) did just that by playing superbly and building a nine-game winning streak. Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal each won his 16th game and Reliever Frank Linzy his 11th and 12th. Willie McCovey chipped in with two homers and 12 RBIs, giving him league-leading totals of 41 and 112 in those categories. Others who contributed mightily were Ron Hunt, who had 10 hits in 14 at bats against the Phillies, and Bobby Bonds (page 75). Breathing most of the new life into Atlanta (3-2) were Phil Niekro, whose 1-0 victory over the Pirates was his 20th complete game and 18th win, and Hank Aaron, who took care of the Bucs the next day with two homers and six RBIs. Aaron also finally revealed the seriousness of back troubles plaguing him all year. Doctors, he said, told him he will just have to suffer with an uncorrectable bone chip and calcium deposits. "Sometimes I resort to sleeping pills to get any rest," Aaron said. "I'd come out of the lineup if it weren't for the pennant race." For the second week in a row the Cincinnati (5-1) pitchers failed to get a complete game. But the batters, led by the .455 hitting of Alex Johnson, produced 36 runs and kept the Reds on the move. Houston (3-3) hitters, though, sagged. Their .201 average negated fine pitching by Larry Dierker, who lost 1-0 to the Cardinals, and newly acquired Jim Bouton, who lost 4-2 to the Pirates in 10 innings. A lack of power also was evident in San Diego (1-3). The Padres returned home anxious to get a glimpse of a new animated cartoon their scoreboard would flash whenever they drove an opposing pitcher from the mound. There were no cartoons for nearly a week. Then the Padres belted Mike Wegener o the Expos out of a game and sat up to look. The action was better than the scoreboard act. Ferguson Jenkins of Chicago (3-3) also had something he wanted to display—a tattoo of a rose-entwined cross on his right arm. To help it dry, he kept it bandaged as he pitched a five-hitter that halted a four-game Cub skid. New York (4-1) had closed to within two games of the Cubs in the East as Tom Seaver won his 18th and Jerry Koosman hurled a two-hitter. Then the Mets had their six-game win streak snapped by the Giants. Philadelphia (0-5) lost three one-run games, and St. Louis (2-4) dropped two games in the last inning before Steve Huntz beat the Astros 2-1 in the 10th with his first big-league homer. Pittsburgh (1-4) lost three before beating the Astros 4-2 in the 10th on Al Oliver's double. "I've watched the Expos on TV, and I must say they are staggeringly exciting," said Montreal (1-3) fan Lester B. Pearson, former Canadian prime minister. Last week, they mainly staggered. The Expos hit only .203 and were blanked twice, but they did pep up Pearson and themselves with a come-from-behind 9-5 win over the Dodgers.

Standings—East: Chi 81-52, NY 75-53, StL 71-61, Pitt 69-60, Phil 52-77, Mont 40-92. West: SF 73-58, Cin 71-57, LA 71-58, Atl 73-61, Hou 69-62, SD 38-92.

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