Instead of being Boston common, the Red Sox are Boston preferred. Arriving in first place helped the Sox reappear on the front pages with banner headlines. The rise was due partly to the shift of Carl Yastrzemski to first base: he has raised his average 22 points and hit .467 during September. "I over think as a hitter," Yaz explains. "Playing first base takes my mind off my hitting." Maybe the ascent had something to do with the appearance of lush fall foliage on Boston's upper lips. Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith and Luis Aparicio have all grown mustaches, and Luis Tiant—winner of seven in a row—has started one. Tiant pitched 40? scoreless innings before the Yankees punctured the streak.
Mickey Lolich won his 20th as Detroit stayed close. "I'll take our chances with Boston," Manager Billy Martin said. "Our last three games are with the Red Sox—in Detroit." Lolich got to visit President Nixon and asked how big a raise he should request. "Twenty-seven and a half percent," Nixon suggested. Lolich said he would vote for the President.
An uncharacteristic burst of pessimism escaped Earl Weaver after Baltimore lost 2-1 to Detroit Friday. "Losing is bad," Weaver said, "but being mathematically eliminated is worse." He was thinking of the unequal number of games played by contenders this season. The loss was the sixth in 11 games.
New York frustrated Detroit's attempt to climb back into first place by beating the Tigers 3-1 Saturday night on Rob Gardner's seventh win, another rescue by Sparky Lyle and Bobby Murcer's score from first on a single by Felipe Alou.
Gaylord Perry of Cleveland became the first pitcher since 1924 to win 20 games in both major leagues. Perry had been stuck at 19 since Aug. 22 because the Indians—lowest-scoring team in the majors with 399 runs—hadn't been getting him any.
Hope—and the fans—were gone, but the Milwaukee Brewers had a destiny to fulfill. They kept plugging along, losing two more dreary games to Baltimore 2-1 and 8-0.
BOST 71-60 DET 72-62 BALT 72-63 NY 71-64 CLEV 62-71 MIL 54-81
"Pitchers are a funny breed," says Gene Tenace, who has caught Vida Blue since minor-league days. Vida, the MVP and Cy Young winner last year, went only three innings on Sept. 7 against Chicago and lost again. The 6-0 defeat was administered by the men who probably will take those honors this year: Dick Allen, who drove in four more runs, and Wilbur Wood, who won his 24th game. Yet the A's still stayed ahead of the Sox.