Thursday, September 29, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Ralph Terry

Ralph Terry entered the 1961 season trying to shake off the effects of Bill Mazeroski's World Series winning homerun he gave up the previous year. Tough on Ralph, who, at 6 '3 was one of the tallest pitchers in baseball at the time.

He ended the year as one of the best right handed pitchers in the AL!

But he had to earn it first.

The Yankees didn't seem to interested in Terry in April. He pitched a total of three time. Actually, he pitched in relief in the very first game of the year, April 11, and was ineffective. The same could be said about his first start 11 days later. His only other April appearance was a little better, a win over Cleveland, despite 9 hits in only 7 innings.

His first four May starts brought not a win (or a loss) and Terry had still not showed much.

But then came May 24th against Boston. And was it ever a dandy.

Terry fired a complete game 3 hitter. And then Yankees needed it, for they scored only 3 runs. Terry game up 2.

But he still wasn't there, as he was knocked out against the same Red Sox six days later. 5 hits in only two innings. Two months and his ERA is 5.16!

June would bring Terry back on track.

Now his first game in June was a no decision. That's the bad part, as is the 4 earned runs. But the good part is he allowed just 7 hits and no walks. Terry was just that, a control pitcher.

On June 7th, Terry pitched a fine 2 hitter against the Twins. This time he gave up 3 walks, but he went the distance to pick up his third win.

His next start was on the 11th as he gave up just 5 hits and 1 walk.

Then 4 days later, he went 11 innings to beat Cleveland 3-2. He gave up 7 hits, but fanned a season high 8 for his 5th win of the season.

But there was some bad new from this: Terry had a stained shoulder. All those fine curveballs were having an effect on him.

His first start back was on July 9th against the Red Sox. Terry looked a little rusty. And with one out and two man on in the top of the second, Jim Coates replaced Terry. The Yankees lost the game 9-6. It was a game that featured a rare 3 run homerun by Bobby Richardson in a losing effort. It was also Terry's first loss on the year.

After lasting just two innings in his next start, then tossing 4.2 innings in a rare relief appearance, Terry hit a season low in his next appearance.

Terry didn't retire one batter when he appeared in relief in the 6th inning of a July 22nd game against the BoSox again. The two batters he faced both hit safely.

So only a July 27th game was left to try and salvage July.

Actually, Terry would pick up his 6th win as he went 8.1 innings and gave up just 5 hits and 3 walks, dropping his ERA to 3.59. The Yankees downed the ChiSox, 4-3.

Then came the big month for Ralph Terry, 1961.

August.

His first two starts had the following in common:

Hits allowed: 9

Earned runs allowed: 5

Run support: 12 runs

Result (team): win 12-5

Result (Terry): win 7 and 8 on the season.

He was back in the pen on August 16th as he pitched against the ChiSox. In four innings, he allowed just two hits, no walks and no runs for his 9th win. Now his W% on the season was .900, although his ERA was 3.76.

Then came back to back shutouts over Clevenland and Kansas City. First he gave up 4 hits and no walks, and then 5 hits and one walk, pushing his record to 12-1!

Finally, he lost a game.

It was his last start of the month, against Minnesota.

It actually wasn't that bad. Despite 8 hits in 7 innings, Terry walked only 1. And he allowed just two earned runs. But Terry emerged as the loser, as the Yankees were themselves shutout, 3-0, as his mound opponent Camilo Pascual used that fine, roll off the table curveball to allow only 4 hits, two walks and strikeout 9! It was his 12 win, one more than Terry.

So how good was August?

Let's look:

Terry went 5-1, with 5 straight wins at one point. His ERA was 2.45, and batters hit just .234 against him. More impressive, batters managed just a .239 one base percentage against Terry! That is because in 44 innings he gave up just 37 hits and 2 walks, total! And for the season, his ERA was now a very respectable 3.24.

On September 2nd, against Detroit, and it was a very key game, Terry beat the Tigers 7-2 with a fine outing. 7 innings, 6 hits and 1 walk. Now Terry had 12 wins to tie Pascual, who would lose his start the next day.

5 days later, Terry went the distance, gave up 5 hits, no walks and just 3 earned runs as the Yankees beat the Indians, 7-3.

And, again 5 days later, Terry was the winner in a 4-3, rain shortened game against Chicago. This was a little messy. 5.2 IP, 7H, but again, no walks. Terry had upped his record to 14-2.

How good was his control at this point? Consider this: in his last 10 appearances (9 starts, 1 relief) or 74.2 IP, Ralph had walked 6 batters!

It had to end somewhere, though.

And it did with a thud! September 16.

The Tigers realized this was about their last chance to catch the Yankees and won for the second straight game over the Bronx Bombers, 10-4, despite homeruns from Maris (#57) and Howard (#20 and also saw his batting average drop to .360).

But Terry was very off that day.

Roger Maris hit a two run shot in the to third to tie the game 2-2. But in the bottom of the third, with Al Kaline on first, Norm Cash (who had 2 hits and 4 RBIs on the day, raising his average to .359, right behind Howard) hit a homerun to give Detroit the lead for good.

In the next inning with two on, Rocky Colavito scored Billy Bruton with a single to put Detroit up 5-2. That was the end for Terry and the Yankees, who lost the game 10-4. Terry surrendered 10 hits and 6 earned runs. Frank Lary had beaten the Yankees, again!

But that was just Terry's third loss, and his next start was his 15th win, September 20th.

But hardly anyone remembers this game for who the winning pitcher was.

Actually, it was Roger Maris who everyone was watching.

But no one seemed to care that Terry pitched a complete game, gave up just 4 hits, 1 walk and 1 earned runs and the Yankees triumphed 4-2 and clinched the pennant. Maris did hit a homerun (#59) and followed with one of his own.

Terry also tied a season high as he struck out eight, including pinch hitter Marv Throneberry in the bottom of the eight.

With the pennant in hand, Terry was back on the mound four days later. He lasted 6 innings and gave up 4 hits and 0 walks. Then Yankees lost  this game to the Red Sox, 3-1. Terry didn't get a decision.

It was game #162 on the season for the Yankees (although not the last regular season game as the Yankees played a tie) and who better to pitch (and win it) than the man who had pitched in the opening game?

Again he lasted only 6 innings, but for the second straight start, Terry didn't give up a walk and surrendered one earned run. He also fanned 5 and gave up just 5 hits. The Yankees won 3-1. Terry had his 16th and last win on the season against just 3 losses.

Although he tossed just 188.1 innings, his 3.15 ERA was good enough for 6th lowest in the American League that year. His 16 wins (despite only 27 starts) was good enough for 5th. His .842 W% was second to Whitey Ford. And most impressive was being second in WHIP with only 1.08. Ralph had walked just 42 batters, or about 2 per nine innings (He was 4th in the league in that category).

The one thing Terry lacked was a World Series win at this point!

Still shaking off  the dire effects of the Maz homerun of a year before, Terry took the hill in the second game of the 1961 World Series.

He didn't pitch too badly. In his 7 innings, he gave up just 6 hits 2 walks and struck out 7.

After 4 innings the game was tied at 2. But in the top of the 5th, the Reds Vada Pinson scored on a passed ball. It was all Cincy would need.

Johnny Edwards then scored Wally Post with a single in the 6th. Terry was removed for pinch hitter Hector Lopez in the bottom of the 7th despite a 1-2-3 top of the innings. The Yankees ultimately lost the game 6-2.

But with the Yankees up 3-1 in the Series, Terry took the mound in the 5th game in Crosley Field.

Better still, the Yankees gave him a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the third.

But then Terry ran into trouble.

Don Blasingame and Eddie Kasko opened the inning with singles. Terry then retired Pinson on a fly ball that moved Blasingame to third.

Frank Robinson then hit a three run homerun to finish off Terry, although the Yankees won the game 13-5.

Ralph Terry was a pitcher who held the Yankees in the race in the last two months of the season. When the other starters faltered he (and Whitey Ford) kept the Yankees on course for their 26th pennant.


References:


1961 World Series: New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds. Major League Baseball Productions. DVD.

Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000, pp. 405-445. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 29 Sept. 2011.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8dZdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yV4NAAAAIBAJ&pg=4670,6414776&dq=ralph+terry&hl=en

Friday, September 23, 2011

1961 New York Yankee Of The Day: Luis Arroyo

The closer.

Luis Arroyo.

Arroyo had replaced Ryne Duren as the team's mop up man in the 1960 season. Duren would then be dealt early in 1961.

Arroyo was 34 years old when the season started, and he would put together a season for the ages as a relief pitcher. He did two things all year for the Yankees.

1) He won games

2) He saved games

Luis had to wait for the Yankees 5th game in order to make an appearance. But he would pick up the save as he went 1.1 innings in a 4-2 win over the Angels on April 20th. This was the second game of a doubleheader.

There would be many more saves to follow.

After getting nothing in his next appearance, Arroyo got his first win in a 13-11 slug fest over Detroit on April 26. He tossed two scoreless innings and K'd 3.

His next two games that month were two innings each, and they both resulted in saves.

April was now over, but Arroyo must have been sad to see it go. 5 appearances, 9 innings, ERA,

ZERO!

He did give up a run in just 1 inning of work in his first May(day?) outing, but amazingly enough, it wasn't enough to stop him from save #4. Against the Angels on the 5th, he collected his 5th save.

It was a case of double whammy on the 9th of May, however.

Whitey Ford entered the bottom of the 8th with a comfortable 4-1 lead. But former Yankee Andy Carey crashed a double to left. Then former Yankee pitcher (1956 World Series perfect game pitcher, I should say) Don Larsen, pinch hit and delivered a single to score Carey. After Dickie Howser was hit by a pitch, it was up to Arroyo to put out the fire.

Jerry Lumpe, still another ex-Yankee, walked to load the bases.

Hank Bauer, yet another ex-Yankee, greeted Luis with a single to left that scored both runners. 4-3.

Then Norm Siebern, drew a walk.

By the time it was over, (Arroyo finally got out of the inning by retiring Marv Throneberry. Yes, he played for the Yankees, too) Luis and the Yankees had lost the game, 5-4.

His next game saw him squander another lead, and the Yankees eventually lost 4-3 to Detroit. Fortunately, he was not charged with the loss.

He was credited with a hold against the Indians on the 19th of May despite being routed from the mound. This little slump pushed Arroyo's ERA to 3.10.

The next two games were against the O's and the Sox and each time Luis tossed 2 innings. Each time they couldn't touch him and each time he picked up a save.

The month ended on a down as he blew a save and was charged with the loss in a game against the White Sox. Then he got routed again, this time by the Red Sox. ERA at this point, 3.42.

June opened with a tough blown save against the White Sox. Funny how stats don't show that. Arroyo would toss 4.2 innings in what would be one of his longest relief outing of that season.In those 4.2 innings, he allowed only 2 hits, 2 walks and struck out 5. The Yankees would eventually lose the game, 6-5.

In back to back days, June 5th and 6th, he collected two more saves against the Twins. Then he picked up his second win against the A's in his next outing.

Luis then recorded three straight saves before a loss on June 19th against Kansas dropped his W-L back below .500. That would soon change.

And the saves? They kept right on coming as he saved 4 more before the month ended: 2 against KC and 1 each against the Twins and Angels. And his ERA was down to 2.33.

July began with win #3 for him despite just facing one batter, against the Sens July 1st. Then he picked up save #17 the next day.

A fine 3 inning relief effort against Detroit (on Independence Day) didn't result in a win or a save. The Yankees lost the game 4-3.

Two more games of 3 inning relief stints did bring him two more saves. First, he closed the door against Red Sox, striking out 6th on the 8th of the month, then it was the other Sox, Chicago, 5 days later.

Two days later, he picked up his 4th win against Chicago, then did likewise against the Sens on the 18th.

The Yankees played the Red Sox next, and while it was Johnny Blanchard who did the work with the bat, Arroyo is who I am talking about right now. More on the Yankees third catcher in a later blog.

The Yankees trailed 7-6 in the game on July 21st, when Arroyo entered the game in the bottom of the 8th, and Arroyo was nicked for a run on a Frank Malzone sacrifice fly.

The Yankees, however, rallied for 5 runs in the top of the ninth, to take the lead. Arroyo even got a single in that inning, although it was not at all related to the scoring.

But when Luis moved down the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth, he had his 6th win.

The bad news? He couldn't hold the lead, and even let the Red Sox take the lead.

The good news? The Yankees again rallied, making Arroyo a winner with 4 IP.

The amazing news? Arroyo was 2-2 at the plate with a double and scored a run, sending his batting average to .353!

Arroyo was doing it all!

The White Sox felt his wrath as he picked up two more saves against them, pushing his total to 21. He was now threatening the record for saves in a single season. At that point, it was 27, held by Joe Page and Ellis Kinder with 27.

Luis pitched 6.2 innings in his last July outing. He gave up 5 hits and 5 walks, and fanned 6. He didn't allow a run, but the Yankees lost anyway, 2-1 to the O's. But that performance dropped his ERA even lower, 1.75.

He record his 8th win (and at this point, Luis still is on just 3 losses) in his first August appearance. Then he blew the save and got his 9th win against Minny on Aug 4th.

August 8th saw Arroyo make it to double digits in wins when he sent the Angels packing with three fine shutout innings and 5 saves. Two days later, he got his first August save against the Angels again.

A week later he picked up his 23rd save by pitching just one inning. Two days later, against the Indians, he picked up saves #24 by retiring the only batter he faced.

On August 23rd, once again, the poor Angels were the victim of an Arroyo win. Again it was 3 fine innings of shutout ball.

Luis' last August appearance was on the 27th, as he reached the quarter century mark in saves by pitching 2/3 of an innings. Actually, he gave up 2 hits and a run, but New York won the game, of course, 8-7.

September started out for Arroyo on the very first day of the month.

It was one hell of a game, as Detroit's Don Mossi and Whitey Ford kept putting up 0's on the scoresheet. Bud Daley relieved Ford (whose hip muscle had become strained) with two down in the fifth and continued the shutout. Hector Lopez batted for Daley in the bottom of the 8th, but the Yankees got nothing out of that.

As Arroyo took the mound, first baseman Bill Skowron told him, "You hold 'em here, and I'll win it for you when we get up."

Luis went to work, and the Tigers didn't get the ball out of the infield!

But Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were quickly retired by Mossi in the bottom frame.

Then the Yankees reached down.

Elston Howard rammed a single to center, and then Yogi Berra singled to right center. Howard was now on third.

And guess who was up? "Moose" Skowron!

And he promptly singled to left to win the game, just as he had promised.

The next day, he struck out 3 of the 4 Tigers he faced for Luis' 26 save. One more to go to tie the record!

Arroyo's first crack at a chance for tying Page and Kinder for relief immortality came on September 3rd as the Yankees and Bill Stafford presented him with a 4-2 lead in the 8th. Six outs to go. The game is notable as the first for Tom Tresh, who turn out to be one very good Yankee. Tommy was involved in one hell of a game!

Billy Bruton and Al Kaline singled, putting runners on the corners. Arroyo got Rocky Colavito to ground into a double play, but Bruton scored. Arroyo then fanned Norm Cash.

A walk and an error by Skowron put runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out in the top of the ninth. Bubba Morton pinch hit for pitcher Terry Fox, and the Yankees intentionally walked him. Bases loaded.

Jake Woods, the rookie and American League leader in both triples and strikeouts, singled to left to score both runners. Arroyo got out of the inning without further peeps, but the Yankees had to play catchup.

Mickey Mantle was the first batter in the bottom of the ninth. He had done all he could to help the Yankees win this game. In the first, he hit his 49th homerun off Jim Bunning. Yes, the future Senator. In the fifth, he robbed Bunning of a triple when he snared his liner with an over the shoulder catch.

Mantle promptly smashed a 450 foot shot to right center. Homerun #50. 5-5 game.

Berra singled. When Elston Howard had pinch hit for Stafford and stayed in the game, it meant that the pitcher spot was now the 6th spot in the lineup. This meant Arroyo was now the batter.

He advanced Yogi, the winning run, into scoring position with a bunt. Skowron was walked intentionally, and then Clete Boyer flied out. It was up to Howard.

And Ellie sent everyone home happy with a 3-run walk off homerun!

Arroyo was probably forgotten about at this point, but he was the pitcher of record, so he now had 13 wins.

6 days later, he won his 14 game, and 12th in a row, with a 8-7 win over Cleveland. He didn't pitch that well again, as he gave up 4 hits and 2 walks in only 3 innings, but a win is a win, right?

It was a simple 1-2-3 ninth inning on September 10th (first game of a double-header), but Arroyo got save #27, tying an all time single season record. And he wasn't about to stop there.

But his winning streak did end four days later. The Yankees, with some fine pitching (despite 8 hits allowed) by Jim Coates took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 8th. Then with two men on and one out Arroyo entered the game looking for his 28th save.

It didn't happen.

The ChiSox scored once in that inning, the erupted for 3 more in the ninth to hand Arroyo his 4th loss.

Arroyo had to live with another blown opportunity three days later (Sept 17th), but it was in that game that Luis pitched some "lights out".

Arroyo was again pitching against the Tigers, again in relief of Bill Stafford. Again Woods was involved. One out.

Arroyo entered the game in the 8th inning, Wood was on first, having singled to slice the Yankee lead to just 4-3.  Morton was the batter. Again?

Well Arroyo had Woods picked off, but Skowron made a bad throw and Wood scored all the way from first. Luis bared down and a third strike past Morton. Dick McAuliffe grounded out to end the inning. But now the game was tied.

Arroyo really was a gamer in the 9th. Despite two walks and a single, he got out of the jam by striking out Mike Roarke with the bases filled.

Wood, Fox and McAuliffe all failed to get the ball out of the infield in the bottom of the 10th. Arroyo then fanned two more in a scoreless 11th.

In the top of the 12th, Roger Maris' two run shot gave Arroyo all he needed. The Tigers got a lead off walk, but then Arroyo laid into them for win #15 on the season. Quite the pitching line: 4.2 IP 2H 3BB 6K.

It was another 1-2-3 9th on September 23rd, and Luis Arroyo had save #28 against the Boston Red Sox on September 23rd. Arroyo now stood alone!

But the Red Sox brought him and the Yankees to their knees the next game as they tagged him for 2 runs and 3 hits in only an inning of work. It was bad enough for his 5th loss on the campaign.

After another 1-2-3 ninth inning in a loss to the O's, the Red Sox deprived Arroyo of a save and Whitey Ford of a win on September 29th when the scored off Luis in the 7th. The Yankees won that game 2-1, anyway, but it was Rollie Sheldon who got the win.

October 1st, 1961, the last game of the season, and only 23,154 came to see Roger Maris hit homerun #61. But they also saw Bill Stafford toss a fine 3 hitter for 6 inning. After Hal Reniff tossed a perfect 7th inning, Arroyo came on in the 8th, with the Yankees ahead 1-0, Maris' homerun still the game's only run.

Pumpsie Green was the first batter to face Luis. Green was the first black to play for the Red Sox, who were the last team to integrate.

Arroyo fanned him. Jackie Jensen, who only 3 years earlier was AL MVP, came to bat, as it turns out, for the last time. It was a fear of flying that ultimately made him quit at 34.

Arryo got him to pop out to Tony Kubek at short. Chuck Schilling ended the inning by grounding out to Kubek.

In the ninth, rookie Carl Yazstremski singled with one out, but Arroyo got Frank Malzone to fly out to Roger Maris in center (Maris' last play in the regular season) and Lou Clinton to hit into a force play at second.

Luis Arroyo's final stats show him as the American League leader in games pitched, games finished, and of course, saves with 29. With a 15-5 record, his ERA was 2.19 in 119 IP.

But the season didn't end there. It was on to the World Series.

The Yankees won the opener behind Ford's 2-hitter. The Cincinnati Reds Yankees trail by just a single run going into the top of the 8th, but Johnny Blanchard tied the game with a pinch hit homerun. Arroyo took the mound in the bottom of the frame.

And he pushed aside Frank Robinson, Gordy Coleman and Wally Post, just like that.

Roger Maris' solo homerun in the top of the ninth gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Could the New York (and Arroyo) hold it?

Gene Freese, the Reds' third baseman, struck out to open the bottom of the ninth. Good start Luis!

Leo Cardenas pinch hit for catcher Johnny Edwards and got a hold of one to dead center. Oh no!

In left centerfield was the Crosley field scoreboard. The ball was heading towards it. But on either side of it was nothing. Unless the ball hits it, the game is tied! Were was it going to hit?

It's close!

Good thing it hit the scoreboard.

Man on second and one out nevertheless. The batter is pinch hitter Dick Gernert. He hit to chopper to short where Kubek threw him out, Cardenas holding at second.

Now just another pinch hitter, Gus Bell, stood between Arroyo, the Yankees and a 2-1 series lead.

Bell slashed one right back at Arroyo, who knocked it down, picked the ball up and tossed to Skowron and first. Game over.

Arroyo didn't get into the last two games, but the Yankees won them both to wrap up the series.



References

1961 World Series: New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds. Major League Baseball Productions. DVD.

Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000, pp. 405-445. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 23 Sept. 2011.

Baseball: 200,000 Games At The Major League Level

(Disclaimer: I use major league from the birth of the National League in 1876 to the present. For now, The National Association (1871 to 1875), The American Association (1882 to 1891), aren't going to be included.The American League joined the fray in 1901. I will include the Federal League, however, as one of my all time favs, Chief Bender, pitched one season and sported a 4-16 record. Must have been one tough league!)

So baseball approaches 200,000 games played tomorrow.

That many?

Through the years, it has provided some of the greatest excitement ever seen from sports fans.

Here, for your pleasure, is my Top 10 Most Memorable Games EVER In Baseball:

10)  Game 6, 1993 World Series, October 23, 1993. Joe Carter's homerun, I must have jumped so high, I hit my head on my basement ceiling!

9)  September 9, 1965: Poor Bob Hendley. He tosses a 1-hitter over 8 innings. That's enough to beat anyone. Anyone, that is, except for Sandy Koufax, who tosses a perfect game and wins 1-0.

8)  July 2, 1963: Warren Spahn is nearing the end of his career, while Juan Marichal was just sort of starting his. But it was Juan heck of a long game, that ended with Marichal on top 1-0...in 16 innings via Willie Mays' homerun!

7)  May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix retires 36 straight batters to start the game, then ends up losing it somehow!

6)  Game 5, 1956 World Series, October 8th: Don Larsen commits grand larceny by throwing the only perfect game, or even no-hitter, in World Series history

5)  Game 1, 1954 World Series, September 29th: Mays makes THE CATCH!

4)  Game 6, 1975 World Series, October 21st: First Bernie Carbo's dramatic 3-run pinch hit homerun ties the game, then brilliant plays by George Foster and Dwight Evans keep it tied. And then Carlton Fisk leads off the bottom of the 12 and...

3)  Game 7, 1991 World Series, October 27th: Gene Larkin is sent up to the plate in the bottom of the 10th to pinch hit for DH (?!)  Jarvis Brown and delivers the blow that ended a World Series that, honestly, seemed to have no end in sight!

2)  Game 7, 1960 World Series, October 13th: Bill Mazeroski! Sorry Dad, that game!

1)  Game 3, 1951 National League Playoffs, October 3rd: Need I say more?


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 23 Sept. 2011.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Baseball Playing Card Of The Day: Al Kaline





The famed #6 of the Tigers waited...

...waited for his chance to be in a World Series.

Year after year the Tigers had to deal with the Yankees, who they could not overtake. Then it would be the Twins in 1965 and the Orioles the next year. In '67 the Tigers lost to the Angels on the last day of the season to fall just a game short of the Red Sox.

But then in 1968, it all came together for Detroit. Denny McLain won 31 games, Mickey Lolich 17. Amazingly, Kaline was just a part time player that year, as Jim Northrup played 105 games in right field. Kaline, meanwhile, played 70 games in right, 5 in left and 22 at first base.

The problem here was Ray Oyler. Despite his 111 games for the Tigers that year at shortstop, he batted .135. Needless to say, Mickey Stanley, the centerfielder, would be at short as the World Series started. Northrup moved to center, Kaline back right.

The Tigers could do little with the Cardinals, Bob Gibson in the series opener. Kaline fanned three times, as Gibson K'd 17. Kaline, did however, hit a tremendous double to left in the sixth to move Dick McAuliffe to third with 2 outs. Gibson then fanned Norm Cash to end the inning. Kaline's K's, if you want to know, were in the 1st, 4th and 9th inning. The 9th inning one was Gibson's 15th.


After going 2 for 5 in game 2 (an 8-1 Tiger victory), the Tigers came home for games 3, 4 and 5.

Game 3 was a game of homeruns, and in the bottom of the 3rd with McAuliffe on first, Al faced Ray Washburn. The Tiger fans went wild when Kaline put in deep to left for a 2-0.

Alas, it was a game of homeruns. Tim McCarver would hit a 3 run homerun off reliever Pat Dobson, putting the Cardinals up 4-2 in the 5th. McAuliff's homerun in the bottom of the frame brought the Tigers to within one, but Orlando Cepeda's 3 run shot put the game out of reach in the 7th.

Game 4 was all Bob Gibson, as the Cardinals rolled to a 10-1 win. However, Kaline made a play that I will never forget in the 4th inning.

The Cardinals speedster, Lou Brock, tripled with no one out. Then Curt Flood flied out to right.

It was a short fly, but one that Brock could have scored on against many a right fielder.

But Al fired a perfect strike to home, right on the money. Brock dared not challenge his arm.

Imagine that: you've got the fastest runner in the game, showing the great arm a lot of respect by not going home.

It's a play, when you look in the box scores of a game that, doesn't show up, other than, "A fly ball to right". But what that doesn't say is that Kaline had a arm that was respected by everyone, even the fleet footed Brock.

Brock would score anyway, as the next batter, Roger Maris, grounded out.

Kaline got two meaningless hits that game, and the Tigers were now down 3 games to 1. Were they dead? Don't you dare think so!

Game 5 had the Tigers down 3-0 early, but Kaline's single in the 7th brought home the tying and eventual winning run. The Tigers would win, 5-3.

In game 6, Kaline was the big bat of the game, as Kaline was 3/4 with 3 runs scored and 4 runs batted in. Kaline had two of his hits in the third inning, as the Tigers scored 10 runs. In the 5th, Al added a homerun. It was down to one last game!

They had to beat Bob Gibson, 6-0 in his last 6 World Series starts! The odds seemed dim. But Mickey Lolich was 2-0 in the series, and matched Gibson in 0's on the score sheet until the 7th.

Then Detroit got a break.

Mickey Stanley and Kaline went out, and Gibson had retired 20 of the first 21 batters he faced. But suddenly, Norm Cash and Willie Horton singled. Northrup was up, and he sent one to center, where Curt Flood misgudged it, (He later said he lost sight of it in the white shirts behind home plate). The Tigers added another run before the innings was over. 3-0 Tigers!

In the ninth, the Tigers nipped Gibson for another run, and the Cardinals finally got on the board when Mike Shannon homered in the St Louis half. But when McCarver popped out to Bill Freehan, the Tigers were World Series Champions!

They would not have done it without Kaline. Taking nothing away from Lolich's 3-0 record, it was Kaline who hit .379 (second on the team to Cash), 2 homeruns (tied for first with Northrup), 8 RBIs (again tied for team lead with Northrup) and 6 runs scored (tied for team lead with Horton). Amazingly, Kaline did not draw a single walk in the Series!

But it was typical of Kaline, who did so much but didn't get noticed. In his career he only once lead the league in hits, batting average and total bases, and that all came in 1955. A guy by the name of Mantle made it tough to lead the league in much of anything the next year.

Al did, however, lead the league in S% and OPS, plus also IBB in 1959. In 1963, he again lead the league in IBB.

He ended his career with a .297 batting average, 399 homeruns, and 3007 hits. A shame he couldn't hit one more homerun, as Al Kaline would have been the first player to have 3000 hits and 400 homeruns. That honour would go to Carl Yastrzemski.

In 1980, Al received his highest accolade when he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame.


References


World Series Of 1968. Dir. Dick Winik. Perf. Curty Gowdy, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals. Major League Baseball Promotion Corp., 1968. DVD. Narrated by Curt Gowdy. DVD released in 2002.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 17 Sept. 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Bill Stafford

Bill Stafford was tall and imposing, and had not pitched much for the Yankees the year before. Yet suddenly, there he was, at 21, in the starting rotation for most of the 1961 season.

He kicked off hi s 1961 season by finishing two games (April 15th and 20th) and getting credit for the save in both. He pitched 5 more times that month with little effectiveness.

In May however, he got his first start. On the 16th he faced Washington. However, he was driven off the mound in just 3 innings. He would pitch only three more times that month (exclusively in relief), getting hit hard in the first two, but then firing 4 innings of no hit ball against Boston on the 30th for his first win. But at this point, he had already suffered two losses.

Then in June, Bill was in the rotation. And he responded with a 7-hitter against the White Sox, a 5- hitter against the Athletics and a 4-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels. He picked up the win in all of those games.

He was hit hard in his next three starts, yet amazingly, he still won two of them (The other, a June 16th start, was a loss against Detroit). Now, Stafford was 6-3 with a 2.55 ERA.

But it was back to the drawing board after his first start of July, as the problems of April and May returned. He didn't get charged with the loss against Washington on that day, but then he lost a game that he pitched in relief against Detroit on Independence Day.

He really rebounded splendidly against the Cleveland Indians in his next start, just two days later. Not only did he go the distance and pick up the shutout, but Stafford allowed just two hits (to Willie Kirkland and Mike de la Hoz) and no walks. He even singled in the Yankees second run in the 7th as the Yankees triumphed, 4-0.

He beat the White Sox in his next start despite only going 6 innings. Then he tossed 9 innings of 6 of six hit ball in a 12-0 win over the Sox on July 25, the second game of a doubleheader.

But the month ended on a sour note as he lost 4-0 to the Orioles.

He failed to get a decision in his first August start against the Twins, then another no decision followed against Angels, but he gave up nine hits in 5.1 innings. His next start on August 12th was little better, and he lost 5-1 to the Senators.

A fine 7-hitter over 8 innings meant Stafford had reached double figures in wins, but then on August 22nd he lost again, this time to LA. Loss #7.

Stafford was superb in his next outing, a 3-hitter and 8 Ks against KC on August 26th. 4 days later he tossed a 4-hitter and a shutout against Minny.

September 3rd hard Stafford toss 7 innings and give up just 6 hits against the Tigers. Alas, it was a no decision. Then he beat the Indians again for win #13.

The Tigers got some revenge when they tagged Stafford for 10 hits in only 7.1 innings. Stafford didn't lose that game, but he lost his next two starts, both against the Orioles.

Oct 1st was the season's final game. And while Roger Maris did hit his 61st homerun in this game, it was Stafford (6 IP 3H 0R/ER 1BB 7K) who was the winning pitcher in an 1-0 Yankee win.

So Bill Stafford finished 1961 with 14 wins 9 losses 2 saves, an ERA of 2.68 (2nd in the league behind the Sens Dick Donavan) and 3 shutouts (tied for 6th with 5 others) in 195 innings.

Stafford did pitch in the World Series. He was the starting pitcher in game 3, which to me was the most important game of the series.

He set down the Reds again and again, yet trailed 1-0 going into the 7th.

But Yogi Berra singled home a run to tie the game. The Reds weren't finished either, and reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the frame, when Eddie Kasko singled home catcher Johnny Edwards.

That was all for Stafford as Bud Daley took over. The Yankees, on homeruns by Johnny Blanchard and Roger Maris in the 8th and 9th innings respectively, won the game 3-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Stafford didn't pitch again that series.


References


1961 World Series: New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds. Major League Baseball Productions. DVD.

Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000, pp.  405-445. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 8 Sept. 2011.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Baseball Playing Card Of The Day: Carl Hubbell



Whenever I talk about Carl Hubbell, the subject of the 1934 All Star Game comes to mind.

Now, me personally, I don't put much stock into them. I've never been to one in any sport. Everyone is in it for fun. You're only their based on half a season.

But in Hubbell's case, it's part of his legacy, so why not?

It was the second ever All Star Game, July 10, 1934 at the Polo ground. Hubbell, who would win ______ games that season, stated for the NL.

Leading off for the AL was Charlie Gehringer. He greeted Hubbell with a single, and then advanced to second on center fielder Wally Berger's error.

When Heinie Manush walked. it was first and second, nobody out.

The batter was Babe Ruth!

Yet Hubbell struck him out with a screwball.

Then Lou Gehrig came to bat.

Hubbell fanned him, two. I guess there was too much excitement at this point because Gehringer and Manush pulled off a double steal. They caught 'em napping!

Hubbell was unruffled. He struck out Jimmy Foxx to end the inning.

The top of the second began with Al Simmons going down on strikes.

Joe Cronin followed suit. Hubbell had fanned 5 straight Hall Of Famers.

But Bill Dickey broke that up with a single. Hubbell fanned pitcher Lefty Gomez. Gomez was mad at Dickey for breaking up the streak. He said he wanted his name right there with Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons and Cronin!

As it turns out, Hubbell was through for the day, and the AL ended up winning the game 9-7, as Mel Harder tossed 5 innings of 1 hit ball for the senior circut.

That takes nothing away from the above.

Yet when I think of Hubbell, I think of one of Babe Ruth's last great performances.

See, after the 1934 season, the 15 year marriage of The Bambino and the Bronx Bombers was over. So he was back to Boston, but this time with the Braves.

So his very first game as a National Leaguer was against the Giants. And Hubbell was starting!

(Understand this about this blog's author. Anytime someone does something spectacular against some team or someone, I always like to know what happens the next time out.)

So this was Ruth's first time facing Hubbell since the All Star Game the year before. It was also the first time he'd faced Hubbell in a non-allstar game.

Ruth, true to his flare for the dramatic, singled in the game's first run with a single in his very first at-bat. He then scored a run himself later that inning. Then King Carl fanned him in the second inning

In the fifth, Ruth came up with a man on and crashed a 2 run homerun. Later that game, he made a great catch to rob Hubbell of a sure hit. Hubbell managed to fan him later that game.

In the 1933 World Series, the last World Series to feature the Washington Senators (Here that Nationals?) Hubbell held off the Sens 4-2 in game 1, then went 11 innings before emerging a 2-1 winner in game 4. The Giants went on to win the series in 5 games.

Carl would face the Yankees in the World Series (sans Babe Ruth, of course) in 1936 and 1937.

He beat Ruffling and the Yankees 6-1 in the '36 opener, a fine 7 hitter. But he couldn't hold off the inevitable, and lost game 4, 5-2, allowing 3 earned runs and 8 hits in 7 innings. The Giants managed to win game 5 in extra innings, but the Yanks won game 6 easily.

In '37 the Yankees were even stronger. Hubbell was routed off the mound in game one. Hubell managed to hold the Yankees off for 5 innings. But in the sixth, the Yankees scored 7 times off him.

The Giants soon found themselves down 3-0 in the Series, but Hubbell would save them from total embarrassment.

He must have smiled as the Giants scored him 6 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. The Yankees scored a run off him in the first and third, and still another in the ninth, but Carl spun a fine 6 hitter to win 7-3. The Yankees would win the series the next game.

As for Hubbell, he would live long enough to watch another screwball master, Vernando Valenzuela, strikeout Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker and Teddy Higuera. Kirby Puckett the got ahold of one and grounded out.

Hubbell would carry on until 1943. He died on November 21, 1988 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He had been elected to the Hall Of Fame in 1947.

References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9opTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OjgNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1584,5537937&dq=babe+ruth&hl=en

Seaver, Tom and Marty Appel, Great Moments In Baseball, Birch Lane Press, New York, 1992.