- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The high-flying Baltimore Orioles (see page 70) held onto the lead, though they lost two out of three to Washington. Despite injuries to Johnny Temple and Vic Power, the Cleveland Indians kept up the pace. Tito Francona took over at first, rapped 14 hits in 30 at bats, and Ken Aspromonte proved a worthy fill-in for Temple at second. Jim Piersall shrugged off a $250 fine for raging at umpires, pulled his average back up to the .325 level. The Chicago White Sox' shaky pitching got a lift when Frank Baumann threw two shutouts and Russ Kemmerer one. But the club still lacked run-scoring punch (34 runners stranded in three games against Cleveland) and a stopper to replace fast-fading Early Wynn. With Casey Stengel bedded by the flu, the New York Yankees continued to totter on the brink of the second division. When would Casey return? "It doesn't matter much," growled Acting Manager Ralph Houk. "He can't get any hits for us." In one hopelessly lost game, Houk inserted reliever Ryne Duren, wilder than ever of late, just for the exercise. Duren came through with four strikeouts, only two walks in two innings. The Detroit Tigers' unproductive week was brightened by the blasting of long-dormant sluggers Rocky Colavito and Charley Maxwell. The bench-ridden Colavito, given by Manager Dykes "a week to 10 days" to produce, responded in record time: back in the lineup against Cleveland, he hit two homers, drove in the winning runs. The Kansas City Athletics won five in a row and climbed to within a game of fifth place, principally because of Bud Daley and Dick Hall, who have two-thirds of the team's victories. Daley, top winner in the league, always eats pork chops on the days he starts; he had to face the Tigers in relief, chopless, but pitched four scoreless innings, struck out seven, and won anyway. The Washington Senators got good pitching from unexpected sources. Chuck Stobbs won twice, Don Lee once, and Hal Woodeshick beat the Orioles with a five-hitter. Boston Red Sox Owner Tom Yawkey, at a rare press conference, called the team "lousy" and the Boston writers worse, insisted he had no plans for changing managers or moving the franchise. Ailing Ted Williams sneaked back to Boston to take managerial soundings, then declared the only team he'd ever guide would be his hometown San Diego American Legion club.
Standings: Balt 28-17, Clev 24-27, Chi 25-20, NY 22-20, Det 20-21, Wash 18-24, KC 19-26, Bos 15-26
The Pittsburgh Pirates played in the familiar pattern. Bob Friend and Vern Law each won complete games, Elroy Face pitched well in relief, and Roberto Clemente got a base hit to win an extra-inning game. Law broke a disconcerting home-run habit: before shutting out the Phils, he had given up 13 homers in 80 innings. Good pitching by the starters kept the San Francisco Giants near the top. Complete games rose to 24 (twice the Pirates' total) and shutouts to 10, and with the hitting way off, it took top pitching to win. Blessed by a dearth of rain and a torrent of home runs, the Milwaukee Braves rose comfortably above .500 for the first time all season. Manager Dressen, fretting over Warren Spahn's lack of effectiveness, embarked reluctantly on a make-work program for his star pitcher.
Rocked by the Phils, Spahnie got credit for the win, thanked Dressen for staying with him, said: "I needed this one pretty badly." The Cincinnati Reds lost five straight and their tenuous hold on third place. In an extra-inning loss to the Pirates, Manager Hutchinson used 23 players (including eight pitchers), saw two performers and six bench jockeys tossed out of the game by Umpire Frank Secory. The Los Angeles Dodgers continued to flounder at home (six victories, 14 defeats since the opening home stand). Worst victim was Coliseum-hating Don Drysdale, who was pounded in two starts, then beaten in relief, for three losses in five days. The pitching problem overshadowed the club's best hitting yet: 46 runs, 11 homers (two of them grand slams). St. Louis Cardinals' Manager Solly Hemus flitted back to defensive strength, and the club responded with sound, tight baseball. Second Baseman Julian Javier, obtained from the Pirates for Wilmer Mizell, showed good speed and a .350 BA as the new lead-off man. The Chicago Cubs got strong hitting from well-known Ernie Banks, little-known Bob Will. The stocky Will had three homers, two triples. Banks boosted his home run total to 13; 10 of them have been hit at night, though the Cubs play all their home games in daylight. Between incidents and injuries, the Philadelphia Phillies had a hard time keeping their minds on the game (see page 24).
Standings: Pitt 29-16, SF 29-18, Mil 21-17, Cin 23-24, StL 21-24, LA 21-25, Chi 17-23, Phil 16-30
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]