In his 18th year of organized baseball, 36-year-old rookie Minnie Mendoza got his first big league hit, and it enabled MINNESOTA (see above) to stay in first place. CALIFORNIA stayed even with the Twins for three consecutive days, winning when Minnesota won and losing when Minnesota lost. Four good starters and three good relievers added to the hitting of Alex Johnson (.333), Jim Fregosi (.322), Roger Repoz (.317) and Jim Spencer (.311) gave the Angels a 13-7 April, their best ever. "I am a peaceable man," says John Odom of the OAKLAND As, "but I am ready to defend my friends at all times." Odom doesn't mean just once in a blue moon. He has been in every fight his team has ever had (a good record for a pitcher), including last week's brawl game at Boston. Unfortunately for the As, Odom's box scores this year haven't been as good as his boxing, because of an ailing right arm, and another good swinger, Reggie Jackson, is hitting only .155. Like the stock market, CHICAGO was disastrously bad in the middle of the week, then revived slightly. Losing 18-2 to Baltimore Wednesday, the White Sox committed four errors, gave up 20 hits and tipped a fly ball over the fence for a three-run Oriole homer. Next day they blew a record. Tommy John, then 0-5, could have become the first pitcher to lose six games in April, but he brought his home-town preacher to the game, pitched well, singled in a run, and the Sox won the first of three straight. Last year KANSAS CITY'S Charlie Metro wrote a treatise titled Seventy Ways To Win a Ball Game. He also wrote one titled Seventy Ways To Lose. The Royals seem to have read the latter. Twice in two days Bob Oliver took off from first on a fly to right and was doubled up. Twice in one day outfielder Pat Kelly threw to the wrong base. Metro yanked both, though Oliver had hit five homers in six games and Kelly was batting .375. MILWAUKEE can't afford any more lost weekends. The beermakers have won three games on Sundays, two on Saturdays and none at all any other day of the week.
MINN 14-7 CAL 14-8 OAK 11-13 CHI 9-13 KC 8-14 MIL 5-19
What do you call it if it flies and catches flies? An Oriole. What do you call an Oriole that chatters a lot? Paul Blair. "Never! Never in my life have I hit three in one game, not even a pickup sandlot game," said Motor Mouth at his usual volume and speed. "It's really something to keep going up there and watching the ball disappear over the wall." Blair had good reason to blare. BALTIMORE had beaten Chicago in that 18-2 game, and he had hit three more homers than in all 14 previous games. Everything was going so well that Baltimore could laugh about the few insects in the ointment. "I've never been hindered by a fast start," Boog Powell (.233) said. "That's a play I've never been able to make," Andy Etchebarren said after throwing a bunt into right field. DETROIT had 10 errors, seven wild pitches and a passed ball. The Tigers would have been farther off their feed if Al Kaline hadn't hit three home runs and two triples, driven in 10 runs and gone nine for 24 for the week. "A fight has to pick up a team," BOSTON Pitching Coach Charlie Wagner said. "It brings you together," George Scott agreed. "Our fight with the Yankees in 1967 was an important step in our pennant race," said Rico Petrocelli. Sure enough, the Red Sox were 5-1 for the week after a Fenway free-for-all with Oakland. But then, too, Scott was 13 for 24 after being moved out of the cleanup spot, Sparky Lyle relieved in four straight wins and Carl Yastrzemski broke out of a slump. That must have helped some. WASHINGTON bought a set of hands and feet but got a complete ballplayer. Third Baseman Aurelio Rodriquez, obtained along with Rick Reichardt for Ken McMullen, slammed seven hits—including three home runs—for the week. And Reichardt was three for seven. Frank Howard swatted four homers. Stan Bahnsen beat California 1-0 to give NEW YORK its first shutout, first complete game and first winning series. Thereby encouraged, the Yankees swept the Milwaukee series, too, and rose above .500. CLEVELAND won three games during the week, an improvement, but had a firm grip on last place in the highly competitive East.
BALT 14-8 DET 13-8 BOST 12-9 NY 13-12 WASH 12-11 CLEV 9-12
Although Tony Perez' average plummeted to .429, the CINCINNATI home-run leader did help win a game with his 10th home run, tying the major league record for April. Johnny Bench and Pete Rose started to hit, too, but it was still the pitching that had visions of pennants flapping in Red heads. Jim Merritt won his sixth game, Gary Nolan and rookie Wayne Simpson each won his fourth. When Simpson needed relief for the first time this season, Wayne Granger was so effective that Sparky Anderson kept Wayne in the game (in right field) while rookie lefthander Don Gullett came in to pitch to one man, left-handed Willie Stargell. "Heck," said Gullett after striking Stargell out, "down home in Lynn, Ky. we made that move all the time." When ATLANTA got it-self reconstructed, who was responsible? Aaron, of course. Tommie Aaron. Little brother rapped the Pirates for two doubles, a home run and a single, lifting his average to .661. Hank, only .341, did stay ahead in home runs. His ninth beat Chicago 3-2 and gave Phil Niekro a second win after four losses. Clete Boyer (.175) sank the Cardinals with a ninth-inning homer and turned Ron Santo's sure hit into a game-ending, game-saving double play. In 13 seasons LOS ANGELES has made 77 changes at third base, involving 39 players. Florida-raised, Florida-trained All-America Steve Garvey had looked like the solution—in Florida during spring training. But last week Garvey was optioned out and Billy Grabarkewitz grabbed the slippery job. Batting .364, Grabarkewitz could hold on. "His name is automatic when I make out the lineup," says Walter Alston. Says Grabby, "I check the lineup card before every game." Cable cars seem to produce odd effects in SAN FRANCISCO. Rich Robertson, who pitched his best game in three years, credited a long cable ride which "picked me up." The depleted Giants' staff needed the lift. HOUSTON'S Doug Rader derived his inspiration from the movie Patton. "We've gotta get off our duff," he said, echoing the general's favorite exhortation. SAN DIEGO drew only 14,000 to Cap Day and, claimed an observer, "They had to give away Dodger caps to do that."
CINN 19-6 ATL 12-11 LA 12-11 SF 12-14 HOUS 10-15 SD 9-16