Who are Joe Ferguson, Ron Cey and Dave Lopes, and why are they getting so many hits? They are all Dodgers, are all in their mid-20s and all bat right-handed. Ferguson raised his average to .316 last week, popped his seventh and eighth homers and moved into second place in RBIs with 30. Cincinnati skipper Sparky Anderson calls him "the best young power hitter to enter this league in some time" and feels he can hit with much the same crunch as Johnny Bench. Ferguson, a catcher, elaborated on his hitting by saying, "When you're behind the plate your thoughts are concentrated on not allowing hits. Then you go up to bat and try to hit the ball cleanly. Once you free yourself mentally you can hit. I have finally made that conversion." Cey (The Cey Hey Kid) looks like the third baseman the Dodgers have sought since moving West. He had 10 RBIs and batted .522 as the Dodgers won four of five. Second Baseman Lopes hit .452, stole his 11th and 12th bases in as many tries and took the league batting lead at .388.
The Astros scored just four runs in their first four games and lost them all. It was enough to drive the fans to drink, which is precisely what they did on Nickel Beer Night when 35,169 of them quaffed roughly 101,000 cups. Ken Forsch, Dave Roberts and Don Wilson made the crowds even happier by beating the Braves 2-1 and the Giants 3-1 and 2-1 as they climbed to first place. San Francisco prepared for its traditional June Swoon, losing five of six. Dusty Baker won consecutive games for Atlanta with a homeland a sacrifice fly. And Henry Aaron (page 28) hit three more home runs.
Tony Perez is called The Big Dog by the Reds because his bite is at its best in the clutch. Last week, with the team in a slump, Perez talked his way into the lineup despite an injured finger. He then bit the hand that pitched to him for two homers and a 4-1 win over the Dodgers. As for Clay Carroll, three days before he got his award as 1972 Fireman of the Year he took his 10.80 ERA and 0-3 record and started his first game. He pitched five scoreless innings, but the Reds lost 3-1.
San Diego Shortstop Enzo Hernandez had 10 hits, scored seven runs and stole five bases. But the former pride of the Padres—their pitching staff—has been embarrassed to the tune of a 4.57 ERA, the league's worst.
HOUS 25-15 SF 26-16 CIN 22-15 LA 22-16 ATL 15-21 SD 14-25