Looks Like the Dodgers in Five
The first game of the World Series will be televised by WBZ-TV, Channel 4, at 3 p.m. today. WEZE radio, 1250 kc, will broadcast the game.
When I picked the Dodgers to win the National League pennant last spring, I take it you all went out and bet heavily on them. So you'll no doubt be chagrined to hear that that bum O'Malley hasn't seen fit to recognize my loyality by sending me World Series press credentials. I'm deeply hurt.
Brooding over this slight, I've been trying to find a way to pick against the Dodgers in the World Series. I thought I'd go for the Twins on the standard cliches: they can hit, they can run, and their pitching is no worse than the Dodgers' hitting. They can pound out the homers, or they can scratch for the single run. Sure, the Dodgers' pitching is great, but they can't pitch shutouts every day, and worse pitchers than Camilo Pascual have shut out the Dodgers this year. Maybe they go 23 innings in a scoreless tie; the Twins are the best to win in the 24th. You know.
Then I opened my bible, the Record-American yesterday, and I couldn't believe my eyes. Minnesota manager Sam Mele apparently switched around his entire pitching rotation. After Mudcat Grant (21-7) starts the first game, he'll go all the way with lefthanders. That means Jim Kaat (18-11) pitches the second game and, instead of Camilo Pascual, Jim Merritt (5-4 since coming up from Deaver in July) may go in the third.
And why? Because "he's a better bet to hold the runners close to the bases than Pascual," according to Mele. In other words, the thought of Maury Wills on first base and a righthander like Pascual (who has a notoriously bad move to first) on the mound is too much for Mele. In other words, Mele is running scared.
In any event, this unlikely statement certainly means that, in Mele's eyes, Pascual is not back in top form after his operation. Since returning this month he has been his usual self only once, in a complete-game one-run performance against Washington, Pascual in top shape is a pitcher in the Koufax-Drysdale class; without him the Twins have no such pitcher. They only bought Mudcat Grant because they never could beat him, and 21 wins or no 21 wins, his E.R.A. reads 3:30, the highest of any pitcher who will start in the Series. He has walked 99 men this year, also more than any other starter for either club.
Kaat is a left-hander who relies on the kind of slow-balling "stuff" that can send the Dodgers into contortions. He's probably the best prospect the Twins have for a consistent winner against Los Angeles. But the luck of the draw has placed him opposite Sandy Koufax, a winner of still more consistent sort.
So the question is, can Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Claude Osteen stifle the Twins' hitting? Sure, Osteen beat them five times in a row when he was (gasp!) a Washington Senator, but can he and the others stop the "new," scrambling, Dodger-style Twins attack?
To this the answer seems seems to be incontestably yes -- if the pitches are in form. Thinking back to the way Drysdale and Koufax whipped the Yankees when they really were the Yankees, and the way they've beaten the good National League teams in the last three weeks, there's no question that they can shut out the Twins if they're pitching well.
And are they in form? Again, all the evidence seems to say they are. Koufax's recent perfect game and his two-hitter against the Reds seem to prove that he's never been better. Drysdale has won five in a row.
Now there's no doubt that the Dodgers hitting is about as terrible as you could possibly imagine. Playing in gigantic Chavez Ravine, where singles ought to drop in all over the place, the Dodgers hit .245 as a team only because their three starting pitchers are all above-average hitters.
So it boils down to a simple question: can the Twins' pitchers stop this puny attack more firmly than the Dodgers' can shut down the Twins' sluggers? I surely thought so. The Dodgers' offense, they say, boils down to a couple of .270 hitters plus Maury Wills. I didn't believe the stuff they said about Wills. He may have stolen 94 bases, but the averages say he makes an out 7 times out of 10. Could he be that terrifying? But I've changed my mind now. Any guy who can knock Camilo Pascual out of a World Series without even coming up to bat has got to be good.
It looks like the Dodgers will win it in the fifth game -- Koufax's game. Maybe they'll invite me to spring training.