Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Common Denominator: Beat Borg At The French Open

That would be Italian Adriano Panatta. Bjorn Borg tended to win the French Open every time he entered it. Often there were very few dropped sets.

In 1973, Borg played the French Open for the first time ever. And he looked strong, beating Cliff Richey in straight sets. Pierre Barthes of France won the first set against him the second round, 6-1. But Borg found his resolve and won the next two sets (The first two rounds of the French were best-two-of-three) and the match. He also dropped the first set against Dick Stockton in the third round, but won the next three sets. The kid still had a thing or two to learn about clay, however!


Enter Adriano Panatta.

Borg met his match in this match. Panatta took the first and fourth set tiebreakers. The middle two sets were split and Borg had lost. He'd also lose at Wimbledon to England's Roger Taylor. At the US Open, Bjorn lost to Nikola Pilic. Panatta had beaten Borg twice that year on clay prior to the French, so it was no surprise at the time.



1974 was most notable for Borg in that it was his only appearance at the Australian Open. Phil Dent beat him in the round of sixteen 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Borg, however, won an event in Auckland on January 12th of that year. He also scored wins over Panatta and Rod Laver himself in a tournament in Barcelona. At the French, he got past Raul Ramirez, Harold Solomon and Manuel Orantes in the last three rounds for his first triumph in Paris.

After losing in the third round at Wimbledon, he faced Panatta again in the finals at Bastad. He won this clay court affair 6-3, 6-0, 6-7, 6-3. It seemed liked Borg had Panatta figured out. And Borg was still only 18.



Borg dropped only one set in his next French Open appearance. It was in the semis against...Well...Panatta. Andriano won the second set 6-1, but Borg won the match and swept three straight sets from Guillermo Vilas in the finals. However, Borg and Panatta went 1-1 head-to-head the rest of the year. And Panatta had an ace on his racquet the next time they played in Paris.

Panatta, you see, didn't win in 1973. Ille Nastase won it. With Borg on the rise and Vilas not far out of the picture, Panatta's time to win it was growing short. Borg, however, nearly lost his round of sixteen match with Francois Jauffret, winning 10-8 in the fifth. Perhaps tired, perhaps due for a loss, Borg lost to Panatta in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6.



Panatta again needed a fourth-set tiebreaker to beat Harold Solomon in the finals to claim the prize.

Borg again went 1-1 against Panatta outside of the French Open that year. The two would never face each other again in that tournament, which was a shame since they had many memorable matches after that. Borg skipped the 1977 French Open, won by Vilas. But he returned for 1978-1981 and won all four times.

The loss to Panatta in the 1976 French Open proved to be Borg's last versus the Italian. Borg went 5-0 against him from there (Including a win in one of Borg's last ATP tour matches, prior to his 1991 comeback), finishing up their head-to-head, 7-4 despite a 4-2 head start for Adriano kept the matches close, but Borg found a way.

It really is a shame Borg gave up competitive tennis after 1981, essentially. His rivalry with McEnroe was great, but he had no real rival on clay, other then Panatta. Imagine how many more gems we could have gotten. Certainly nothing would have surpassed their five-set duel in the 1978 Italian Finals!

Monday, July 27, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Before Babe Ruth, there was another player with that nickname that allowed exactly six hits in three complete-game victories over Detroit in 1909. Babe Adams was up against Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, but he would not let the Pittsburgh Pirates down in the '09 Fall Classic.

Adams got Pittsburgh off on the right foot as he won game one, 4-1. The downside was, the Pirates got only five hits themselves. Crawford and Cobb were held to just 1-7 in the game, although Ty walked and scored in the top of the first inning. Adams held to just four hits beyond the first.

In game five, with the series tied at two games apiece, it was Adams with another win. This time, he really got some support. The Tigers scored four runs themselves, but Pittsburgh got double that! Cobb got a hit and scored a run. Crawford had a huge game for the Bengals. He collected half hit teams' total hits with three, scored twice and knocked in pair (Including his pal Cobb in the top of the sixth). Adams did not get off to a good start. Detroit's first batter, Davy Jones, got things going with a home run to centre. But Adams settled down and had a 1-2-3 second, third and fourth. Even so, the game was actually tied going into the bottom of the seventh. The Pirates scored four times that inning. Crawford got one of them back in the next inning with a home run of his own. One of the runs that Adams surrendered was unearned.

Detroit, however, captured game six to send it to a winner-take-all game seven. Adams was the man on the hill again. And did he ever deliver. The whole Pirates team did!

Adams beat Bill Donovan and Detroit, 8-0. But even so, the Pirates collected just seven hits. The best stat line for Adams was Cobb and Crawford: 0-8 in the game!

Pittsburgh scored twice in the top of the second, another two in the top fourth. The game was really put away when they scored three more times in the top of the sixth. Another run for the Pirates in the top of the eighth was unnecessary. But you could say that about all the runs scored after the first.

Adams gave up three doubles in the game, and escaped a jam in the second and the fourth. The Pirates had won it all on the road. Detroit would not return to the World Series until 1935, meaning Cobb and Crawford would never again play in the World Series. The Pirates themselves would not be back until 1925, but by then they'd have three World Series triumphs.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Menacing Dennis For The Jays In 1985!

Sadly, it wasn't Dennis Eckersley. But the Toronto Blue Jays had Dennis Lamp, who didn't lose much in their first pennant-winning season! Ironically, he and Tom Filer combined for an amazing 18-0 record that season. I can guarantee you this: No relief pitcher has ever posted a higher winning percentage. And amazingly enough, only one other pitcher in baseball history, has recorded a higher number of wins without a loss, Tom Zackary, 1929. Along with Lindy McDaniel, it should be noted he actually started a game. Thanks to Dennis' strong year, Toronto ended up with 99 wins that season. No Blue Jays team has ever won as many games in one season.

Stat Set 1


Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
Konstanty 1950 74 62 0.838 152.0 16 7
Wilhelm 1952 71 32 0.451 159.1 15 3
Face 1959 57 47 0.825 93.1 18 1
McDaniel 1960 63 47 0.746 104.1 12 4
Arroyo 1961 65 54 0.831 119.0 15 5
Radatz 1963 66 58 0.879 131.1 15 6
Perranoski 1963 69 47 0.681 129.0 16 3
Miller 1965 67 55 0.821 112.1 14 7
Regan 1966 65 48 0.738 116.2 14 1
Hiller 1973 65 60 0.923 125.1 10 5
Tekulve 1979 94 67 0.713 134.1 10 8
Hernandez 1984 80 68 0.850 140.1 9 3
Lamp 1985 53 11 0.208 105.2 11 0
Eichhorn 1986 69 38 0.551 157.0 14 6
Wetteland 1993 70 58 0.829 85.1 9 3
Chapman 2012 68 52 0.765 71.2 5 5
Davis 2014 70 11 0.157 72.0 9 2

Stat Set 2


Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
Konstanty 1950 22 4 0.846 0 2.66 56 3.32 1.039 4.7
Wilhelm 1952 11 1 0.917 1 2.43 108 6.11 1.155 2.7
Face 1959 10 9 0.526 1 2.70 69 6.67 1.243 3.2
McDaniel 1960 26 6 0.813 1 1.29 95 8.21 0.863 6.0
Arroyo 1961 29 10 0.744 1 2.19 87 6.58 1.109 3.3
Radatz 1963 25 3 0.893 0 1.97 162 11.00 1.096 5.7
Perranoski 1963 21 8 0.724 0 1.67 75 5.23 1.202 4.5
Miller 1965 24 1 0.960 1 1.89 104 7.80 0.997 4.3
Regan 1966 21 7 0.750 1 1.62 88 6.82 0.934 5.0
Hiller 1973 38 0 1.000 0 1.44 124 8.92 1.021 8.1
Tekulve 1979 31 6 0.838 8 2.79 75 5.00 1.176 3.2
Hernandez 1984 32 1 0.970 0 1.92 112 7.19 0.941 4.8
Lamp 1985 2 5 0.286 8 3.32 68 5.80 1.164 1.3
Eichhorn 1986 10 4 0.714 7 1.72 166 9.52 0.955 7.4
Wetteland 1993 43 1 0.977 0 1.37 113 11.95 1.008 4.2
Chapman 2012 38 5 0.884 6 1.51 122 15.32 0.809 3.6
Davis 2014 3 0 1.000 33 1.00 109 13.60 0.847 3.7

References

Baseball Reference (Baseball-Reference.com) http://www.baseball-reference.com/