Tuesday, May 2, 2023

When One Game Displays a Season


TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Marty Keyes of Clovis, CA, who correctly identified Pat Jarvis, Ron Reed and Phil Niekro as the three losing Braves pitchers in the 1969 playoffs.  The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Please put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION:  Jim Lonborg won the final game of the season in 1967 to send the Red Sox to the World Series. Who was the losing pitcher in that game?

 In what would become a classic match up of the late 1960s, Jim Lonborg and Denny McLain battled in out on a Wednesday night in May, 1967. Specifically May 24th when less than 10,000 fans in Detroit would see these two masters of the mound due battle and only one hitter make the difference. As it turns out it was one of the most important games of the season for both clubs.

Lonborg, who was in his Cy Young year and McLain who was one season away from winning his and 31 games to go along with it, took to the mound with pretty opposite records. McLain was 4-4 while the Red Sox starter was 4-1. The Detroit hurler was just as masterful as his Boston counterpart this evening, striking out six batters through seven innings.

Lonborg on the other hand struck out eight through the same time frame. Lonborg was only in trouble once, McLain only made one bad pitch. Leading off the second inning he faced left handed hitter and utility man, Dalton Jones. Jones took him deep to right for a 1-0 lead.

In the 7th Lonborg gave up a walk to Norm Cash, then hit Bill Freehan. After striking out Ray Oyler, he walked Gates Brown who was batting for McLain. With the sacks full and just one out it looked like the Tigers were about to break it wide open. However, as fate would have it Dick McAuliffe grounded to George Scott at first who threw home to Mike Ryan to get the force of Cash. Then Don Wert popped out to Ryan ending the threat.

Dave Wickersham pitched the final two innings for Detroit, holding down the fort. Lonborg gave up a double to Al Kaline but that was it and the Red Sox had a 1-0 win and Lonborg was 5-1 on his way to a 22-win season. McLain would finish 17-16. The Red Sox would go on to win the pennant one game ahead of the Tigers who went into the final day, tied with Boston. Boston won, Detroit lost and the Red Sox moved onto the Fall Classic. Oh for just one more timely hit.

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