The 1963 Dodgers found their identity and were humming on all cylinders this week 60 years ago, with the pitching staff propelling the team into first place in the National League by winning seven of eight games.
Twelve runs was all that was given up by Dodgers arms in eight games, with seven runs coming in one game. The trio of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Johnny Podres combined to allow four runs in 53 innings in their six starts.
It was a welcome turnaround for Podres, who was chased in the first inning in consecutive starts, allowing seven combined runs while recording three outs on June 16 and June 23. Podres had a back injury earlier in the year, but more recently he had to fly back to Los Angeles to get his left arm examined.
As the Associated Press described it, “A couple of weeks ago, Johnny Podres was in such desperate need of quick relief that he might have been mistaken for the stricken star of a television aspirin commercial.”
After six days and seven days rest in his previous two starts, a healthy Podres was back on a regular schedule this week. On Monday, he struck out a season-high 12 in a complete-game 2-1 home win over the Braves. On Friday, Podres blanked the Reds, one of four shutouts by Dodgers pitchers this week.
The Dodgers started the week by finishing up a wraparound series against Milwaukee with a win, then swept the Cardinals in three games to leapfrog St. Louis into first place. That was followed by taking three of four games over the Reds. The 7-1 week has the Dodgers three games up on San Francisco atop the National League, LA’s largest lead of the season to date.
Batter of the week
Maury Wills had another strong week atop the batting order, with 12 hits in 27 at-bats (.444), and he’s back at shortstop now after about five playing weeks at third base. Since returning from his toe injury on June 4, Wills is hitting .388/.425/.419 with 21 runs scored in 31 games.
Wills heads into the All-Star Game hitting .321, third in the National League behind teammate Tommy Davis (.327) and Pirates shortstop Dick Groat (.326).
Pitcher of the week
Sandy Koufax pitched shutouts in both starts last week, blanking the Cardinals on Wednesday then keeping the Reds off the board in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. That gives Koufax eight shutouts in his 20 starts this season, already setting a Dodgers franchise record for shutouts in a season, one more than Bob Caruthers (1889), Burleigh Grimes (1918), and Whit Wyatt (1941).
Six of Koufax’s eight shutouts have come at Dodger Stadium, where the left-hander this season has allowed seven runs in nine starts. That’s good for a minuscule 0.81 ERA with 71 strikeouts, 34 hits allowed, and 11 walks in 77⅓ innings. Five of Koufax’s seven runs allowed at home this season were scored by the Braves on June 29, including a home run by Joe Torre and Henry Aaron driving in three.
Koufax’s eight shutouts are the most by a National League pitcher since Cardinals right-hander Mort Cooper had ten in 1942. Cooper was named National League MVP that season. Seems important. There are still 11 weeks remaining this season, by the way.
Koufax enters the All-Star break atop the majors with a 1.73 ERA (Pirates right-hander Bob Friend second at 1.98), 14 wins (four others, including Whitey Ford, one back), 150 strikeouts (Drysdale second at 138), eight shutouts (White Sox right-hander Ray Herbert second with six), and a 0.832 WHIP (Phillies righty Turk Farrell second at 0.889). He’s third with 156⅓ innings pitched, behind Drysdale (170⅔) and Juan Marichal (162⅔).
Week 13 results
27 runs scored (3.38 per game)
12 runs allowed (1.50 per game)
.815 pythagorean win percentage
Year to date
321 runs scored (3.82 per game)
283 runs allowed (3.37 per game)
.557 pythagorean win percentage (46-37)
Wally Moon had a strong week of his own, hitting .350 (7-for-20), including a pinch-hit RBI double to walk off Milwaukee on Monday.
Moon was a left-handed batter, but took advantage of the short dimensions down the left field line at the Coliseum with enough opposite-field shots off the high fence that such a hit was dubbed a “Moon shot.” So it’s not surprising Moon was ahead of the curve when it came to recognizing a ballpark’s strengths and weaknesses.
In an interview with Sid Ziff at the Los Angeles Times on July 5, 1963, Moon also went a long way in explaining park factors to a much wider audience while explaining Dodger Stadium, which was in its second season.
“Power is nullified in this park. Home runs in Milwaukee will be long outs here. Henry Aaron is one the great hitters. He has real power. But he’ll get 10 home runs there that would only be long outs here. It’s a hell of a big help to a batting average.
“I can think of 10 that I’ve hit here and 10 that Fairly has hit and about 10 by Roseboro that would have been doubles in St. Louis but were only long outs in Dodger Stadium.”
Over the course of the season (and throughout a large chunk of the park’s history), Dodger Stadium would in fact be pitcher friendly. Though at this point of the season, the splits weren’t as stark.
Through July 7, the Dodgers are averaging 3.73 runs with a .348 slugging percentage and 27 home runs in 45 games at Dodger Stadium this season. On the road, the Dodgers average 3.92 runs with a .349 slugging percentage and 23 home runs in 39 games.
Moon’s season totals reflected the difficulty of hitting at Dodger Stadium, hitting seven of his eight home runs on the road, slugging .449 away from home and just .320 in Los Angeles.
- Monday, July 1: Dodgers 2, Braves 1
- Tuesday, July 2: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0
- Wednesday, July 3: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 0
- Thursday, July 4: Dodgers 10, Cardinals 7
- Friday, July 5: Dodgers 1, Reds 0
- Saturday, July 6: Reds 3, Dodgers 1
- Sunday, July 7: Game 1 — Dodgers 4, Reds 0
- Sunday, July 7: Game 2 — Dodgers 3, Reds 1
1963 Week 13 batting
1963 Week 13 pitching
The week ahead
First up is the All-Star Game Tuesday in Cleveland. Then the Dodgers hit the road by running the Choo-Choo Coleman gauntlet through New York and Philadelphia.