Hey CD, how would you rate Friday night's bullpen performance against the Orioles in historic perspective?
Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking question, Ryan, and here is my take. I did some research on this subject and came up with what I consider to be the 4 greatest bullpen performances by Phillie relievers in modern times.
Of the 4, I DO consider Friday night's performance the GREATEST bullpen performance in Phils history and here is why. For one thing, the 16 innings pitched due to an injury to Brandon Duckworth in the first made it tops in length, and the fact that for 15 1/3 of these innings they allowed absolutely no runs, borders on phenomenal. The fact that all 7 Phillie relievers pitched showed that they were ALL effective collectively. And to be quite frank, they dominated, allowing only 8 hits in 16 innings, with a 0.56 ERA and a batting average allowed of .145.
It is my humble opinion that only the Red Sox scoring 25 runs in one game, on the SAME night, kept this performance from getting its just due. Trust me, Ryan, history will be VERY good to this performance… it will grow in stature once the full impact of this night has been digested. I am also of the opinion that the 2nd greatest bullpen performance came on July 7, 1993 when Phillie relievers Larry Anderson, David West, Jose Deleon and Mike Williams combined for 12 innings of 1 run ball in a Phillie 7-6 win. Ironically, Williams allowed the Dodger run in the top of the 20th, only to have Lenny Dykstra win the game with a two-run double in the bottom of the 20th.
The 3rd greatest performance came in 1973 against the Braves in another 20-inning win. In this game Phillie relievers Mac Scarce, Bill Wilson, Wayne Twitchell, Barry Lersch and Jim Lonborg went 12 innings and allowed only 2 runs in an eventual 5-4 triumph in the 20th inning. This game would have had no historical reference had the Phils not matched the Braves 2 run 12th inning with 2 runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. From then till the 20th, Phils relievers threw nothing but goose eggs.
Finally, and this ranks as the most painful one to retell, is Phils bullpen performance number 4, a 16 loss to the Dodgers on Sept. 19,1964. Much like the Orioles game, the Phils bullpen was called into action early, in the 3rd inning. From then until the bottom of the 16th inning - the Phils relievers, Bobby Locke, Ed Roebuck and Jack Baldschun combined for 13 innings of 1 run ball….only to have a Willie Davis steal of home with 2 outs in the bottom of the 16th inning, spoil this performance. The defeat alone keeps this from being ranked at least 2nd in All-Time Phils bullpen performances.
So, friends, if you have a scorecard from Friday night's Orioles-Phils marathon, it might be wise to keep it, we may NEVER see a performance like it in our lifetime again.
And just as an added thought, here is my nominee for the greatest individual performance by a Phils reliever…ironically the aforementioned Jack Baldschun. It seems he entered a Giants-Phils game in 1963 to pitch the bottom of the 9th in a 3-3 tie. He continued pitching the 10th, 11th and 12th with no problem but in the bottom of the 13th, with the score still tied at 3, Willie Mays lead of the inning with a triple off the top of the center field fence. Baldschun walked Orland Cepeda and Felipe Alou to load the bases with no outs, then proceeded to retire Ed Bailey, Jose Pagan and Tom Haller on 10 pitches without a run scoring. Finally, the Phils broke through with 4 runs in the top of the 14th inning, and for good measure Baldschun retired the Giants in order in the bottom of the 14th inning…a stunning 6 inning, 0 runs allowed, 7-3 win for the tireless Baldschun, he with the greatest single game performance by a Phils reliever in modern history.
Q: On the Collapse of '64, from Ponteleone, Philadelphia
Hey CD, You often refer with stunning clarity the 10 game collapse in 1964 that denied that team a pennant and forever broke the hearts of its loyal followers. However, I recall a game during this period when Willie Davis defeated the Phils in an extra inning game…can you recall the details?
My dear friend, Ponteleone, I not only can painfully recall the details, but I just referred to the game in my last answer about great Phils bullpen performances. However, this game had so many twists and turns, that it deserves special mention. The game you refer to came on Saturday night, September 19, 1964 at the tail end of a Phillies10 game West Coast swing. The Phils were seemingly pennant bound, with a 61/2 game lead and Dennis Bennett on the hill. However Bennetts arm, injured in his previous start, a 1-0 win in Houston, caused him to leave the game in the 3rd inning.
Little did the Phils realize what a portent of things to come was this turn of events. The game played on into the bottom of the 16th inning with the score tied at 3. The Phils had wasted several scoring opportunities, and some great relief pitching by Bobby Locke, Ed Roebuck and Jack Baldschun, to make this contest a marathon,,,a marathon they were about to lose.
After retiring the first 2 hitters in the home half of the 16th inning, Baldschun got speedster Willie Davis to ground to 1st base. In a race to the bag, Davis and Baldschun arrived simultaneously and Davis was called safe. This would prove the beginning of the end for Baldschun…and the Phils, though they had no way of knowing what was in store for them. On the next pitch, Davis stole 2nd and continued to 3rd base on a wild pitch by the angry Baldschun. Manager Gene Mauch immediately called for rookie lefty Morris Stevens to pitch to the lefty hitting Ron Fairly. Stevens immediately got 2 strikes on Fairly, typical of the wonderful string of luck that this team had experienced during the season, a string that would end on the next pitch. With 2 strikes on a left-handed batter, there is no way a runner at 3rd base can attempt a steal of home…but attempt it Davis did. Stevens was stunned, and altered his windup. Fairly was stunned, and could do nothing but watch, afterall he could not swing with Davis only a few feet away. All Stevens had to do was throw a strike and the inning was over. However, in his haste, he altered his delivery, and tossed the pitch far outside. Catcher Clay Dalrymple lunged for the ball and Davis in one move, and was unsuccessful in both attempts. The Dodgers had literally stolen a 4-3 ballgame from the Phils.
The Phils did win the next afternoon 3-2 behind Jim Bunning and would head home with a 61/2 game lead and 12 to play. The following night, when Chico Ruiz stole home to defeat the Phils 1-0 and begin what was to become a 10 game losing streak, will live forever in Phils infamy. What is rarely discussed however is the incredible fact that twice in 3 games the Phils lost on the rarest of baseball plays, the steal of home. Teams can go 10 years without EVER losing a game to a steal of home, yet the ill-fated Phils saw a reenactment of Groundhog Day played out before their very eyes on the evenings of Sept.19 and September 21.
Columnist's Note: This ends today's edition of Hey! CD. Please send your comments & questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be glad to respond to you on this column. Thanks for visiting, and see you next Sunday! CD