A new kind of excitement has hit those calm old Birds, the Baltimore Orioles. "The next month is going to be fun," said the calmest and oldest, Brooks Robinson. "For once, we're in a pennant race, and I'm really looking forward to it. I honestly think we'll win it." Even more confident is cocky, young Bird Rich Coggins, a rookie just called up from the minors. After hitting doubles in his first two major league at bats and helping the Orioles to two of their three wins, he proudly proclaimed, "I can hit anyone."
The Tigers were not so proud. They lost four straight and foundered into a second-place tie with the Yankees. Back-to-back shutouts by Fritz Peterson and Mel Stottlemyre brought New York abreast of Detroit. It was Stottlemyre's first win since Aug. 13 and his first complete game since July 21. "We have to have him if we're going to do it," said Manager Ralph Honk of the righthander's comeback. "You know what I'm afraid of?" Pitcher Peterson added. "We're going to get hot, and so is everybody else."
Boston's Luis Tiant is already hot enough. Tiant, who has scored only 17 wins in the past three seasons, had won five straight by midweek, the last three shutouts. Said Manager Eddie Kasko, whose Sox compiled a 4-1 record, "He has been out of this world." Much more in this world is Cleveland Manager Ken Aspromonte, who announced after his team suffered its fifth straight defeat, "Realistically, our best hope is for third or fourth place." Milwaukee's George Scott, an involved man, was pasted with a realistic $500 fine after he gestured imaginatively at a fan in the box seats as the Brewers suffered through a 0-5 week. "From now on," said Scott, missing the point, "I'm just going to keep my mouth shut."
BALT 68-57 DET 67-59 NY 67-59 BOS 65-58 CLEV 58-67 MIL 50-75
The A's, rolling up five wins, recaptured the league lead from the White Sox and acquired ex-Cardinals Matty Alou and Dal Maxvill for the pennant drive. But no one in Oakland seemed to care. Only 5,200 fans turned out to watch former Bay Area favorite Gaylord Perry pitch against them early in the week and only 7,200 attended a Friday night game with pennant-contending Detroit.
The White Sox have no attendance problems at home, but they had an empty week on the road, losing three in a row and four of five. The team batting average for the trip was .149, well below the Sox' already meager road average of .207. For the Sox at least, there is no place like home.
Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici believes in a different maxim: practice makes perfect. After eight straight Twin losses, he called for a morning workout. The team defeated Baltimore 7-1 that night. The next day—normally a day off—he called for another practice session and the Twins promptly won their next two games.
Another disciple of hard work is the Royals' Bruce Dal Canton, who started the first game of a doubleheader and then offered to pitch in relief in the nightcap. The extra effort drew special praise from Manager Bob Lemon, whose kind words for Dal Canton were taken as an implied slight by another Kansas City starter, Dick Drago. He said peevishly, "I'm not the kind to say I wouldn't pitch if they needed me."