California's Frank Robinson hit his 535th home run to reach sixth place on the alltime list—ahead of Jimmy Foxx, behind Mickey Mantle. And at 37 he was feeling so chipper he asked to be moved from designated hitter to the outfield. Indeed, a better Angel DH might be Richie Scheinblum, who had taken his good-hit, no-field reputation to Cincinnati from K.C. this year and returned to the American League a bust. Last week he won one Angel game with a homer, lost another with an error.
The Twins' Rod Carew (.349) is a near cinch to win his third batting title in five years, and few pitchers are going better than his teammate, 22-year-old Bert Blyleven, whose seven shutouts lead the league. But two men do not make a team—the Twins dropped six of eight. Kansas City stayed in second despite a losing week and a sad slugger in John Mayberry. "I don't think I'll ever hit another home run or drive in another run," moaned Mayberry, who leads the league with 20 and 80, respectively. His problem was getting a pitch; he walked nine times for a 1973 total of 77—another first.
Oakland finally survived a week at the top. Saves by Rollie Fingers (ERA: 1.39), Horacio Pina (2.70) and Darold Knowles (2.70) helped a great deal. When Manager Dick Williams was ejected for "an obscene gesture" and Vida Blue won, something like normality had convincingly returned to the champions. Texas was in last but encouraged by newcomer Jim Fregosi, jettisoned by the Mets, who homered to win a game.
OAK 51-40 KC 50-44 CHI 46-43 CAL 45-43 MINN 45-43 TEX 31-57
The Cubs lost four of five in their worst week to date and have played only .500 ball since June 1. So why are they still in first? Well, second-place St. Louis was 3-3 for the week. The Cards did not get a complete game or a homer until Saturday, when Alan Foster beat San Diego 5-3. Third-place Montreal allowed 55 runs and 75 hits, dropped five of seven and lost Shortstop Tim Foli for three weeks with a fractured jaw.
Pittsburgh was rustling again. Pitcher Nellie Briles beat San Diego 10-2 in perhaps the most satisfying Pirate game of the year. Everybody hit, including the pitcher. Dal Maxvill, the fourth player the Pirates have tried at short, batted .300 and made one harmless error, and when little-used Luke Walker and Jim Rooker also won, Pittsburgh moved into fourth.
Greg Luzinski hit five homers in five games, one for 500 feet to clear the Veterans' Stadium scoreboard, but the best Philadelphia could do was win three of seven games. Said Manager Danny Ozark of the Phillies, "They went into a deep sleep. If they're as tired as they look now, I'd hate to go into September trying to clinch a pennant."
The most absorbing Met news was a fan poll conducted by the New York Post. Of more than 4,000 responses 1,448 said General Manager Bob Scheffing, who had traded away Nolan Ryan, should be ousted; 1,207 wished Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant's departure and only 611 wanted to can Manager Yogi Berra. The Met players—who presumably did not vote—managed to win three of six.
CHI 50-40 ST. L 46-42 MONT 42-45 PITT 41-45 PHIL 41-48 NY 38-48