On August 20, 1961 the Philadelphia Phillies played a double header in Milwaukee with the Braves. Milwaukee won the opener 5-2, extending the Phillies losing streak to 23 games. While the Phillies were tacking yet another game onto what was already the Major League (modern era) record for most consecutive losses, the Braves were chalking up their 10th win in a row.
Going into the nightcap, the Braves were 64-51. At 30-87, the Phillies were already well past the point of being mathematically eliminated from the pennant race.
John Buzhardt (The H is silent) started the second game for the Phils. He came into the game with a 3-13 record and an ERA of 4.33. The Braves starter was Carl Willey (5-6, .402)
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when Roy McMillan homered off of Buzzhardt, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead. The Phillies bounced back in the top of the fourth as Wes Covington homered to tie the game. Then Lee Walls doubled and Clay Darymple singled him home, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
The Phillies small-balled their way to another run in the sixth with another pair of hits by Walls and Darymple, and a sacrifice fly RBI off the bat of Bobby Malkmus. The Braves answered in the 7th when Hank Aaron and Joe Adcock both singled and Aaron scored after Frank Thomas grounded out into a double play.
The Phillies scored four in the eighth on four singles and a walk, and with a 7-2 lead, they were well on their way to winning their first game in more than three weeks.
The win was actually a turning point for the Phillies. They won their next three games. For the remainder of the season they were only four games under .500 (16-20, .444).
In 1962 the National League expanded to 10 teams with the addition of the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45’s (renamed the Astros in 1965.) That year, the Phillies actually managed to finish a game over .500 at 81-80, a dramatic improvement compared to their dismal 1961 showing. In 1963 the Phillies continued to improve, finishing the season 12 games over .500 in fourth place. Then in 1964 they were the best team in the National League, for the first 150 games. But then they lost 10 straight, and finished a disappointing second to St. Louis.
Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners struck out 19 Chicago White Sox in the Kingdome, on August 8, 1997. He tied his own record for the most strikeouts in a game by an American League lefty. Seven weeks earlier, also in the Kingdome, Johnson faced the Oakland A’s and struck out 19 of them as well. Johnson was undoubtedly more satisfied with his effort against Chicago, because he and the and Mariners won that game, 5-0. Despite Johnson’s impressive strikeout tally against Oakland, Seattle lost the game 4-1. It was one of the four losses that Johnson suffered in 1997.
The record for the most strikeouts in a 9-inning game is 20. It’s held by Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens. Clemens did it twice. In 1962 Tom Cheney of the Washington Senators struck out 21 batters in a single game against the Baltimore Orioles, but Cheney pitched 16 innings in that game, which seems even more incredible than the 21 strikeouts.
On May 8, 2001, Randy Johnson pitched a game for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Cincinnati Reds in which he struck out 20 batters in 9 innings. The Diamondbacks won the game in 11 innings, and therefore Johnson’s 20-strikeout game is listed in the MLB records among “Most Strikeouts in an Extra Inning Game”, even though he only actually pitched 9 innings.
In his losing effort against Oakland, Johnson gave up 11 hits including a monster 538-foot home run by Mark McGwire. He was much sharper against Chicago. In that game he allowed only five hits, all singles, two of which were infield hits. Chicago only hit five of Johnson’s pitches to the outfield.
At 20-4, 1997 Johnson became a 20-game winner for the first time. That year his ERA was 2.28 (the lowest in his 22 season career).He recorded 291 strikeouts against only 77 walks. In addition to his two 19 strikeout games, he also had a 16 strike out games, and he struck out 15 batters in two games.
You might see a 9-year-old do this in a Little League game, but you don’t expect to see a Major League ball player, especially a very good one like Tommy John, commit three errors in the same play. He managed to pull off this dubious accomplishment while pitching for the Yankees, against the Milwaukee Brewers. It happened on July 27, 1988.
At the time, John was a 45-year-old veteran, pitching his 25th season in the big leagues. Although he came into the game with a record of 284 wins against 214 losses, by this point in his career, and probably forevermore, he was, and will always be, better known for the surgery that was performed on his on his elbow in 1974. If medical professionals want to show off, they might refer to his procedure as an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, but everybody else just calls it “Tommy John Surgery”.
On this night in Yankee Stadium, John was cruising along nicely. In the first three innings, the only Milwaukee batter to reach base was Rob Deer who singled in the second inning, but was doubled up the next play when Dale Sveum lined out. John pitched a clean inning in the third, and he started out the fourth by getting Paul Molitor to ground out. Then he walked Jim Gantner and maybe it affected his concentration. On the next play Jeffrey Leonard hit a dribbler to the mound. John booted it – for error number one. Then he threw the ball wildly passed first baseman Don Mattingly, into right field – for error number two. By the time Dave Winfield chased it down, Gantner was trying to score. John caught Winfield’s relay throw, and fired it over catcher Don Slaught’s head,allowing both Gantner and Leonard to score. – And that was error number three. Then Robin Yount came up and hit a single, but John stranded him at first as Deer lined out and Sveum was called out looking.
Meanwhile, after all that, the Yankees still led 4-2 and wound up cruising to a 16-3 win. John got the win after pitching eight very respectable innings in which he allowed only six hits and two earned runs.
Walter Johnson was the first Major League pitcher to reach the milestone of striking out 3,000 batters. He did it on July 22, 1923. It wasn’t until July 17, 1974, almost 51 years later, when Bob Gibson became the second Major League pitcher to reach the 3,000 strikeout plateau.
On August 2, 1907, a young man later described by Frank Graham as “beyond doubt, the greatest pitcher that ever scuffed a rubber with his spikes” made his big league debut for the Washington Senators, losing a 3-2 decision to the pennant-bound Detroit Tigers. The great Ty Cobb admitted his fastball “made me flinch” and “hissed with danger.” By the time he hung up his spikes 20 years later, Walter Johnson had recorded statistics which seem beyond belief–417 wins and 279 losses, 3,509 strikeouts, 110 shutouts, 12 20-win seasons, 11 seasons with an earned run average below 2.00, and what seems almost incomprehensible a century later, 531 complete games in 666 starts. But, as superlative as his pitching record was, in Shirley Povich’s words, “Walter Johnson, more than any other ballplayer, probably more than any other athlete, professional or amateur, became the symbol of gentlemanly conduct in the heat of battle.”
Read more, SABR.com, Society for American Baseball Reseach
Walter Johnson’s Stats are Staggering.
Writing for BaseballGuru.com, Eric Gartman makes the case why Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all time. Here are Gartman’s top 10.
1. Walter Johnson 2.17/3.00, 20 Seasons
2. Greg Maddux 2.15/3.05, 15 (17) Seasons
3. Roger Clemens 2.63/3.38, 18 (20) Seasons
4. Pete Alexander 2.72/3.31, 18 Seasons
5. Lefty Grove 2.88/3.32, 17 Seasons
6. Christy Mathewson 2.78/3.35, 15 Seasons
7. Cy Young 2.88/3.37, 21 Seasons
8. Tom Seaver 2.72/3.56, 19 Seasons
9. Carl Hubbel 2.72/3.25, 15 Seasons
10. Warren Spahn 2.97/3.62, 20 Seasons
Joe DiMaggio saw his 56 game hitting streak come to an end on July 17, 1941. 72 years later, nobody, not even DiMaggio himself, has come close to equaling his mark. Before DiMaggio’s streak, which started and ended during the 1941 season, Willie Keeler held the record. Keeler hit safely in the first 44 games of the 1897 season.He also hit safely in the last game of the 1896 season. In the modern era, George Sisler had a 41 game streak in 1922.
The streak began without much fanfare. The game was played in Yankee Stadium in front of a crowd, if that’s what you want to call it, of 9,040. (That would mean there were close to 60,000 empty seats.) Joltin’ Joe went 1-4, with a single and an RBI. Meanwhile, the Yanks got smoked by the White Sox 13-1.
More than two months later, against the Indians in Cleveland, the DiMaggio Streak came to an end.
Since DiMAggio’s feat, Pete Rose is the only Major Leaguer who has been able to hit safely in 40 or more consecutive games. Rose’s 1978 streak lasted 44 games.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak began on this day in 1941 with a humble RBI single against the Chicago White Sox. The Yankee Clipper wouldn’t be held hitless again until July 16. That record streak remains one of the most hallowed and admired marks in sports. Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers made headlines early this season by putting together a hitting streak barely half as long. In 71 years, no one has come within 12 games of DiMaggio’s record…
The Yankees rallied in the eighth. With one out and three runs already in, Henrich walked to load the bases. Despite Smith’s success with Joe that night, the pitcher was gassed. In came second-generation Major League pitcher Jim Bagby Jr.
DiMaggio had observed, from one knee in the batter’s box, Bagby’s warm-up pitches. Back on June 15, Joe had homered off Bagby, at the time extending The Streak to 28. DiMaggio saw what he wanted. Time to hit. Joe walked purposefully to the batter’s box.
On a 2-1 pitch, DiMaggio swung and bounced a sharp ground ball at shortstop Lou Boudreau. The 24-year-old infielder was celebrating his birthday, but the last hop of this grounder was anything but a gift.
As the ball took an unexpected detour up and to his right, Boudreau stayed with the bad bounce and shoveled to second for a force out. When Ray Mack threw on to first, DiMaggio was the victim of a double play.
An uneventful Yankee ninth inning meant that Cleveland needed to tie in the bottom of the frame for DiMaggio to have any chance to continue his historic run.
Larry Rosenthal’s two-run triple gave DiMaggio’s fans hope, as the score now stood at 4-3. But Yankee reliever Johnny Murphy retired the side, and The Streak ended at 56 straight.
Read about all 56 games in the steak at JoeDiMaggio.com