While BALTIMORE (page 16) continued its leisurely stroll toward the championship, the DETROIT pitching staff finally was making noises like, well, Tigers. The 1968 world champions got one complete game from Mickey Lolich and another from Les Cain, who went the distance twice in a row after failing 14 straight times. But the big newsmaker was none other than Denny McLain. He won, finally pitching a complete game in his 13th start. Earlier, he was ejected for the first time ever over an incident precipitated by—of all things—organ music.
Pitching against the Athletics in Oakland, the combative righthander became irritated, then balked after organist Lloyd Fox rolled the organ while McLain was taking his signals from Catcher Bill Freehan. Complaining bitterly, McLain was shown to an early shower, but in a review afterward, music critic and Umpire Nestor Chylak panned Fox. Said Chylak: "That organist [Fox, presumably] should have his fingers broken. If he'd come down here I'd break 'em for him."
New York lost four of seven starts to hold fast in second place. One bright spot was the pitching—and batting—of Mel Stottlemyre. In beating Minnesota 4-3 for his 12th win, he knocked in the lead run with a two-run triple. The Yankees' other hitters have not done as well lately, so the club announced that Mickey Whatshisname will rejoin the team as batting coach.
The fence at Municipal Stadium was moved in this season in hopes of increasing the Indians' modest home-run total—and it has done exactly that, modestly. Of 137 homers hit by CLEVELAND, 94 have been at home—including four each inconsecutive wins over Oakland last week. While Reggie Smith of BOSTON extended his hitting streak to 15 games, big Frank Howard of WASHINGTON was complaining "I haven't had any hot streaks yet." Then he hit two homers to beat the Twins 5-4.
BALT 80-45 NY 69-56 DET 68-57 BOS 63-60 CLEV 61-64 WASH 60-65
A couple of unlikely hitters helped the MINNESOTA Twins end their recent slump and steady their hold on first place. First, Jim Holt, whose average is hanging up there around .250, hit a two-run single in the ninth to beat the Yankees 8-7. Three nights later Tom Tischinski (.182) hit his first major-league home run to defeat Washington 4-3. "I was so surprised and shocked," said Tischinski, "I didn't know whether to run or walk, go forward or backward."
Pitchers Chuck Dobson and Catfish Hunter each had his problem for OAKLAND. After allowing only one home run in 43 innings, Dobson gave up three in a row during the A's 6-5 loss to Cleveland. Hunter was wondering what a guy has to do to win in August. Last season he was 0-7 for the month, this year he has lost three straight.
The old singing cowboy, Gene Autry, opened his mouth last week, and out came a surprising note. Said Autry, the chairman of the CALIFORNIA Angels, "I'd like to see Jim Fregosi become our playing manager." This did not set too well with the Angels' current nonplaying manager, Lefty Phillips. Asked about Autry's remarks, Phillips snapped: "Everyone has a boss. I have mine."