Sunday, August 30, 2015

Common Denominator: Last Out In Nolan Ryan's 7th No-Hitter and ALCS (1991)

That would be THE player from the Toronto Blue Jays. Roberto Alomar. Robbie was a young man in 1991, 23-years-old. But he played the game like a 33-year-old would.

1991 was Alomar's first season in Toronto. He'd come over in a blockbuster trade from San Diego in December of 1990. In that trade, Toronto parted ways with Tony Fernandez (Who'd return a few times later) and Fred McGriff in return for 1993 World Series hero Joe Carter and Alomar.

Carter played in Nolan Ryan's 7th no-hitter. It was on the first of May in Texas. Alomar batted second behind Devon White (Who himself had been acquired in the off-season in another multi-player trade that saw Toronto part ways with Junior Felix). Carter batted in the cleanup slot behind Alomar and Kelly Gruber.

And Gruber drew a walk off Ryan as the third batter of the game. Alomar had grounded out to second for the second out. Kelly was picked off but safe on an error. Carter ended the inning by popping up. The Jays were in for a long night!

By the time Alomar batted again in the top of the fourth, they were in big trouble. Ryan was humming along, Toronto trailed 3-0, and things looked bad. Alomar fanned. Alomar and Gruber fanned again in the top of the seventh. Gruber followed suit. Carter drew a walk. It was Toronto's second and last baserunner in the game. John Olerud, batting fifth, ended the inning with pop up to third in foul territory.

Alomar then batted in the top of the ninth. Two down, no one on. 3-0 Texas. He batted Ryan to a 2-2 pitch, but then missed the fastball. The 44-year old had his seventh no-hitter.



Toronto recovered from that setback, however. Ryan faced the Jays three more times that year and Toronto won all three games. Did Alomar get any sweet revenge? A two-run triple in the bottom of the bottom of the third, one week later at home, put the Jays up 2-0. Ryan went six innings and gave up two hits, but Toronto won, of course. Alomar went 2-4 on July 18th vs. Texas. Ryan only lasted 6 1/3 innings. Five days later, David Wells was the pitcher with the shutout. For Toronto, as the Jays beat Ryan, 4-0. But Alomar could manage only a single off Ryan.

Toronto went on to 91 wins in '91. They faced the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS. For Alomar, it was his first taste of postseason play. And he delivered.

Robbie went 2-4 in game one, but Toronto lost 5-4. He did his best to help the Jays, down 5-0 at one point, make a game of it.

(Gotta go to about 27:03 for the action)



The Blue Jays won game two, 5-2. Both of these games were on the road, and Toronto had the next three at home. Alomar had another two hits in the second tilt. Things were looking up heading back to Toronto's Skydome.

But Minnesota eked out a 3-2 win in extras in game three, and suddenly, the home-field advantage was lost as Toronto would have to go back to Twinland to win this. Amazingly enough, that was not necessary, as it turns out.



The Blue Jays lost game four badly, 9-3, despite 11 hits. Alomar had another two. But he wasn't getting the help he needed. Devon White was hitting, but Joe Carter was hurt and now just DH'ing. Joe was 0-5 with three K's in game four.

Alomar gave it his all to try and save the Toronto season. Robbie got two hits, as did Devo. Manny Lee added two of his own. Toronto trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the third when Roberto knocked home Lee with the first Jays' run. They didn't stop there and added two more.

Another two runs scored the next inning as Alomar hit a single. 5-2, Toronto! Is this guy just clutch and awesome when we need him, or what?

But the Twins rallied via a pair of three-run innings. Top of the sixth, three. Top of the eighth, three. It was 8-5, Minny. Alomar drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, but nothing came of it. In the bottom of the ninth, Alomar came up with the bases empty and two outs. Sound familiar? This time, he didn't fan. But he flied out to left to end the Jays' season.



A frustrating series. But Alomar had hit .474 to lead all hitters. It was a sign of things to come from him in the postseason. Robbie made sure the Jays won it all the next two seasons. But even Superman have to battle cryptonite sometimes! Alomar may have been the last out of two bad memories from 1991 for Toronto, but somehow, he always kept the Jays in the game with his bat, legs, glove, speed, and arm. Jays fans knew when he came, that happiness was every time Robbie trotted out to his familiar second base position.

Friday, August 28, 2015

World Series Did You Know?

David Cone collected just one other hit outside of game two of the 1992 Fall Classic. Subtract that game, he batted just 1-8 lifetime in the World Series. He even failed to collect a hit in his one National League appearance for the National League Mets in 1986, but that was due to not pitching at home. Still, you'd think if he could get two hits in one game.

Cone was knocked out early in game two of the '92 World Series by the Atlanta Braves. But he helped with his bat. He collected his Toronto Blue Jays' first hit. Then, with Toronto down 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning, Cone came out with two down, Pat Borders on second, Manny Lee on first.

Cone lined a shot way over short. Borders, off with the crack of the bat, scored. Devon White followed with an infield hit to score Lee and tie the game. Cone was 2-2. However, Atlanta didn't waste any time sending him to the shower in the bottom of the frame. They actually scored twice as Cone was lifted in favour of David Wells. Toronto rallied to win 5-4.

In game six, with Toronto up three games to two, and on the road in Atlanta, Cone was back pitching. Pitching well this time. But not hitting.

Cone erased eventual series MVP in the top of the second by hitting into an inning-ending double play. The score was 1-0 into the bottom of the third before Atlanta tied it. But in the top of the fourth, Candy Maldonado took Steve Avery out of the park for a 2-1 Toronto lead. The Jays then looked for more.

Pat Borders lined a one-out double. Manny Lee fanned. Cone came up for his second plate appearance. He walked to keep the inning alive. When Devon White followed with a line single to left, Borders tried to score. He was gunned out.

With two down in the top of the sixth, Cone got another chance at the dish. Lee singled. But all Cone could do was force Lee at second.

However, the big picture was Cone had pitched well. He left after six innings, allowing just that one run. While Atlanta did tie it, Toronto won it in eleven innings. Cone might not have gotten the win in either game, but he sure helped the Blue Jays win games two and six of the 1992 Fall Classic.

Cone was then on the 1996 New York Yankees who faced the Braves in 1996. Along for the ride was another Toronto Blue Jay on that '92 team, Jimmy Key. But it was Atlanta who won the first two games in 1996.

David got 'em back on track with another six inning gem. New York scored twice, but Cone didn't help that cause. He fanned to lead of the top of the third. Then he hit into a force play to end fourth, after New York had scored their second run.

Cone also walked his mound opponent, Tom Glavine, to start the bottom of the sixth. Glavine eventually scored and Cone's day was over when he was pinch-hit for in the top of the seventh. Of all guys to come in to pitch the seventh, Mariano Rivera. The good news was Cone left with another 2-1 lead. Unlike in 1992, Atlanta did not tie the game and Cone was the winning pitcher here. The Atlanta lead was two to one. New York didn't look back and won the next three games as well.

In game three of the 1998 Fall Classic, Cone was on the hill. He started the game and was looking to put his Yankees up 3-0 on the San Diego Padres. Since it was in San Diego, Cone had to bat.

Cone gave it quite the ride in the top of the third, but only a fly ball to left. But then, in the top of the sixth, with the game still scoreless, he singled. Another single and New York looked like they had a big inning going. However, despite another single with just one out, New York somehow failed to score, with David Cone just ninety feet away from breaking the deadlock.

Again it was a fine six inning effort. But Cone left with his team behind as the Padres got to him. They scored three times and Cone was pinch hit for the next inning. It worked as it came in the midst of an uprising that saw the Yankees score twice. They went on to win the game and eventually sweep the Padres.

Cone came full circle as he started game two of the 1999 World Series against, you guessed it, Atlanta. It was another fine outing. How do like this: 0 runs, one hit, seven innings?

Now for the negative. Cone was 0-4 at the dish. However, his team scored seven times to Atlanta eventual two. So Cone was the winning pitcher as the Yankees were on their way to another sweep.

Cone will always have a special place in Toronto Blue Jays history with his bat, however. In 1992, that was Toronto's big disadvantage. Obviously, it was the same case in 1993, but Cone was not there. Still, it had been something I hadn't seen before: A Jays pitcher batting in an official game! Obviously, I expected them to fail, not succeed. An RBI was a nice bonus. Cone did it, by the way, against John Smoltz, one of the Braves' finest pitchers. Toronto had a tough task against him. Cone helped make it a little easier. Even if he struggled at the dish the rest of his postseason career, Cone the hitter helped make the 1992 a one-of-a-kind for Toronto Blue Jays' fans.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Common Denominator: Shoe Polish In The World Sereis

In both the 1957 and 1969 World Series, a HBP was decided upon when the umpire was given the evidence: Shoe polish on the baseball! It wasn't something out of an Indiana Jones flick, but rather a player named Jones that was involved in each.

In 1957, the New York Yankees carried a 5-4 lead into the bottom of he 10th inning in game four vs. the Milwaukee Braves. Three more outs, and New York is up three games to one. The home town team seemed like a beaten bunch as New York had scored three times in the top of the ninth to tie it, and another tally in the top of the next frame to take the lead.

But the Yankees only got one out. Nippy Jones was sent up by the Braves to pinch hit for Warren Spahn. Jones took a pitch inside. Ball. But when Jones showed the umpire the evidence in the form of shoe polish on the ball. It was like ball four. Jones on first.

Red Schoendienst hit a sac bunt. Runner one second and one out. Johnny Logan hit a double down the left-field line to tie it. Eddie Mathews dramatic home run won it. This helped the Braves. Instead of being down 3-1, it was 2-2. And by winning two of the next three games, the Braves entered a Brave New World!

So, twelve years later, and it was the New York Mets at home in game five. They were actually already up 3-1, and looking to put the Baltimore Orioles away. There was good reason to. They were the home team and if they didn't get it done here, games six and seven were in Baltimore. The Orioles had beaten the Mets handily in game one there, 4-1. The Mets managed to win game two, but barely, 2-1. They needed this one.

But the O's weren't going to give them it. In the top of the third, pitcher Dave McNally hit a two-run home run for Baltimore to break the scoreless deadlock. Two outs later, and before New York could recover, it became 3-0 when Frank Robinson hit a home run of his own. The Orioles had been shutout in game three, held to just a run in game four, but now were coming together in game five.

But a bit of a miracle saved the Mets. Leading off the bottom of the sixth, was Cleon Jones. McNally had been doing it all at this point. It was still 3-0, and Dave had a three-hitter going. Jones took one inside that sent him down. Believe me, McNally was not trying to start any trouble. Earlier, Frank Robinson had held up the game a bit by heading to the trainers room. The Orioles were a great team, and not the kind to show you up. They didn't want to give the Mets any life.

But, your not going to believe what happened when Jones went down. On the first pitch, by the way. Obviously, it was a ball. But Jones started towards first. The umpire didn't think so. Gil Hodges, the ex-Dodger and now the Met manager, came out to have a look-see at the ball. AH! Shoe polish! See ump? Shoe polish on the ball? The shoe fits the batter, and the polish is from the shoe? To first went Jones, after all. Right all along!

So, that brought Earl Weaver, the Orioles manager out of the dugout. He wanted to see the evidence for himself. Normally Earl would get really steamed at situations like this. But while he argued a bit, he seemed content. I guess the Orioles had been caught red-handed. But this was black shoe polish, not red.

So when Don Clendenon followed with a two-run home run, the Mets were back in this thing. Al Weiss tied it with a solo shot the next inning. And I mean tied it. In runs, and home runs. 3-3, and 2-2 on the long ball count.

The Mets scored twice more in the bottom of the eighth to win the game 5-3, and the 1969 World Series 4-1.



I'll bet both Nippy Jones in Cleon Jones might have felt sore from both pitches, but do you think they were mad that their shoes had lost some colour? Well, if it led to the big prize, who cares about losses?

References

October 6, 1957 World Series Game 4, Yankees at Braves | Baseball-Reference.com (Baseball-Reference.com) http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MLN/MLN195710060.shtml

October 16, 1969 World Series Game 5, Orioles at Mets | Baseball-Reference.com (Baseball-Reference.com) http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN196910160.shtml

1969 World Series, Game 5 Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets (YouTube)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24d88f6TFjI

Ryne Duren!

Well, he had poor eyesight, a drinking problem, but knew how to throw. Ryne also pitched 32 consecutive shutout innings in 1959. And while his Yankees were not good that year, Duren sure was. That fastball of his...Duck!

Stat Set 1

Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
Page 1949 60 48 0.800 135.1 13 8
Konstanty 1950 74 62 0.838 152.0 16 7
Wilhelm 1952 71 32 0.451 159.1 15 3
Duren 1959 41 29 0.707 76.2 3 6
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
Marshall 1974 106 83 0.783 208.1 15 12
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
Eckersley 1990 63 61 0.968 73.1 4 2
Wetteland 1993 70 58 0.829 85.1 9 3
Rivera 2008 64 60 0.938 70.2 6 5
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
Page 1949 27 11 0.711 0 2.59 99 6.6 1.315 4.2
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
Duren 1959 14 7 0.667 1 1.88 96 11.30 1.200 3.8
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
Marshall 1974 21 12 0.636 9 2.42 143 6.18 1.186 3.1
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
Eckersley 1990 48 2 0.960 0 0.61 73 8.96 0.614 3.3
Wetteland 1993 43 1 0.977 0 1.37 113 11.95 1.008 4.2
Rivera 2008 39 1 0.975 0 1.40 77 9.80 0.665 4.3
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

Ryne Duren Statistics and History | Baseball-Reference.com (Baseball-Reference.com)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/durenry01.shtml