Steve Blass, runner-up for last year's Cy Young Award, was bludgeoned again and his ERA soared to 8.21. Pittsburgh lost five of six and had to share second place with Montreal, which won four and lost two. Powering the Expos were Ken Singleton, Ron Fairly, Ron Hunt and Mike Jorgensen. Singleton had four RBIs in each of two games, and Fairly finished the Braves 7-6 with an 11th-inning homer. Hunt scored five times and Jorgensen drove in four runs as the Expos set a team record by temporarily making midgets of the Giants 17-3.
There were two loud cracks in New York. One was Willie Mays hitting his first home run of the season and 655th of his career. The other came when Shortstop Bud Harrelson broke his hand. The Mets are being injured as fast as a battalion of jaywalkers crossing Times Square at high noon. At the next draft the club might bypass players and sign up two surgeons, three bone specialists, a nurse and some stretcher-bearers.
After blowing a game to the Reds, Cub Manager Whitey Lockman said, "It makes you aware that adversity may be a part of life." Still, his troubles were naught compared with those of the crippled Mets. After all, Lockman's team led the East by 5� games and at least part of that cushion could be attributed to some of Lockman's managerial manipulations. With the Cubs trailing the Reds 5-4 in the seventh and with a man on first and none out, it was a logical spot for Lockman to order a sacrifice. But with Rick Monday, a left-handed batter, facing Tom Hall, a left-handed pitcher, Lockman called his hitter aside. Whitey reasoned that Hall would be throwing fastballs to make it hard for Monday to lay down a soft bunt. "Go ripping," Lockman told his man. Rip the ball Monday did, slamming the anticipated fast ball into the bleachers for a 6-5 win.
CHI 33-23 MONT 24-25 PITT 24-25 STL 24-28 NY 23-27 PHIL 22-32
It was a Christmas-in-June week for the Yankees, who got two gift-wrapped pitchers from the National League, a thoughtful bag of debris from K.C. and—for the first time since April 19, 1967—sole possession of first place. Pat Dobson came over from the Braves, Sam McDowell from the Giants. Manager Ralph Houk received a bag of dirt and pebbles from Kansas City GM Cedric Tallis, who knew that the Yankee manager, while playing in Royals Stadium with its wall-to-wall ersatz greenery, would otherwise be unable to indulge in his habitual sifting of earthy materials. While Houk sifted, his Yankees accepted more gifts from the Royals—five ninth-inning walks—and won 6-4. That win went to Dobson, who pitched five scoreless innings in relief. Sparky Lyle also pitched superbly in relief, yielding just three hits in 6? innings as he saved five games. But the Yankees were not only takers, they were givers, too. Shortstop Gene Michael had a present for Vic Harris of the Rangers: one well-hidden baseball, with which he tagged him out to terminate a Texas uprising.
Reliever John Hiller of the Tigers earned his 11th save with 3? innings of one-hit work against the Angels. He was even more gratified, however, by another save he made earlier that day when he dived into a hotel pool and rescued a 5-year-old boy. Willie Horton slugged three home runs and Mickey Lolich had two wins, yet the Tigers were 3-3 for the week and toppled to second place.
A vote of confidence was given Indian Manager Ken Aspromonte by GM Phil Seghi after the club had lost its eighth consecutive contest. "I'm trying to tell them [the players] to keep their chins up," Aspromonte said. Chins up, the Indians took the field against the Chicago White Sox and were knocked out 6-3.
Although Carlton Fisk had driven in eight runs in the two previous games, Boston Manager Eddie Kasko felt it was time to give him a day off. So he let Bob Montgomery catch Bill Lee the next day. Lee was one strike away from a 4-2 win over the Royals but then served up four balls to Paul Schaal and a homer to Jim Wohlford. In the bottom of the 10th, though, Montgomery proved he was an able replacement for Fisk by hitting his second home run of the afternoon at Fenway for a 5-4 win. Carl Yastrzemski rapped out his 2,000th hit to help the Red Sox build a 4-2 week.
Milwaukee bumped Boston from fourth place by winning five of six as Jerry Bell and Jim Colborn each won twice. Bell stymied both the White Sox and Angels with three-hitters and Colborn, who allowed only nine hits, blanked the A's and Angels to improve his record to 7-2 and lower his ERA to 1.82. Don Money's home run in the ninth brought a 5-4 win over the A's, and Ollie Brown's over-the-fence smash was good for a 1-0 victory over the Angels.