1966, Game 91. The Braves are 43-47 going in (and closing in on the first managerial change of my baseball life) and beat the Reds on a sunny Sunday, 9-6, before 36,522 boiled-peanut-eating fans. (Having never been to STP, and having attended only one game at Turner Field, are there still guys in the parking lots selling boiled peanuts? My cognizance of corporate control says no, but I’d be really ecstatic to be wrong.)
This game had Denny Lemaster pitch a complete game giving up 6 runs. The last time this happened was 8 years ago when Cliff Lee lost 6-1. The last time a pitcher had a complete game, gave up 6 or more runs and won the game was in 2000 when Pete Harnisch beat the Braves. You have to be a pretty good pitcher to be on this list, since you’re generally not going to be left in the game unless you’re a pretty good pitcher. (Of course no one will probably ever be on this list again.) The list of pitchers achieving this feat since 1966 include Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Fergie Jenkins, Phil Niekro, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson. The complete list is at https://www.baseball-reference.com/tiny/mv25e if you’re interested.
This is my introduction to saying that, despite the love showed Tony Cloninger in 1966, Denny Lemaster was my favorite. (The fact that his 1966 ERA+ was a league-average 99 affects this assessment not a whit.) His greatest game is still a few weeks away, but I wanted to show him some love here. (Denny is still with us at 79. Huzzah!) True, Pete Rose was a triple short of the cycle in this game and Denny gave up 3 homers but the Braves’ 5 runs in the second kept him in the game, and a 2-run Hank Aaron homer in the 7th (his 27th, all you Yankees) allowed Lemaster to hang around even though he gave up runs in the 8th and 9th. The win boosted Lemaster to 8-5. One walk to 10 strikeouts. In a grim prediction of the future of baseball, the Reds used 6 pitchers in this game.
Speaking of big second inning outbursts, consider the Braves this evening: a 6 spot in the second. The heros – pretty much everyone (except Acuña who batted twice and made two outs, though he doubled later) not excluding the Blue Jays’ defense that botched a Folty sacrifice in lotsa ways to get the scoring started.
Top commentator moment: Joe Simpson saying “He’s got that corner marketed.” That’s Oklahoman for cornering a market. Verbs, nouns, subjects, predicates, all interchangeable among friends, right?
In the bottom of the 6th Albies broke a pretty long homerless streak both for himself and for the Braves. At this point I’m flipping between the Braves and the Phillies. Ignoring the $7.4 million he’s being paid this year to pitch, it must really suck to be Jacob deGrom. The Mets didn’t get a runner to second base until the 8th. Toronto scored a run while I was watching the other game… apparently Smoak smoked one. I flip back and we have the crisis – bases loaded in the top of the 7th, and a grand slam from Devon Travis and we now see the difference between 1966 and 2018 – Folty is out – where have you gone, Denny Lemaster?
Winkie handled the 8th, and an Albies 2 run dinger provided Reitsma room. And a Nimmo walkoff homer! Let’s go Mets! At this point the rye from the evening Manhattans started kicking in.
Vizzy pitched the ninth: 5-3, Single past Dansby, K, 5-3
Winkie, Vizzy and now I can Nod off. Back in first. G’night all.