Clem Labine wants to know what is the big deal?
as does Larry Sherry, Mike Marshall, Steve Howe, and even Bob Welch. A lot of attention has come to Kenley Jansen for getting seven outs, and I guess in today’s game he deserves it.
From a historical perspective, it wasn’t that special but we know better.
It made me curious just how many Dodgers have done this. To start with Rollie Fingers only did it once.
I’m going to focus on Dodger pitchers who got at least nine outs and also finished the game.
Some of these games were the biggest games in Dodger postseason history.
Normally I don’t wander back to the Brooklyn franchise but since we are going to talk about 1955, I’m going to make an exception.
In the 1955 World Series Clem Labine twice got at least nine outs and to top it off, Clem did it in back to back games. Much has been made of Johnny Podres pitching the gem in game 7 to win the Dodger franchise their first World Championship but without Clem Labine saving games four and five, Podres never gets to pitch in game 7. In game four Labine entered the game in the top of 5th with the bases loaded and two outs. The Dodgers were ahead 4 – 3 and the game was on the line. Labine got Joe Collins to hit a ground ball for the 3rd out. Labine would then pitch the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings for the win. Labine did give up two runs in the 6th, but the Dodgers had scored three runs in the 6th. The final score was 8 – 5. Labine was not done, in game five which was played the next day on Oct 2nd, 1995, Labine entered the game in the top of the 7th. The score was 4 – 2 and a runner was on 1st, the tying run at the plate. Labine got a double play from Irv Noren, and a ground ball from Gil McDougal to get out of the jam. Yogi Berra led off the 8th with a home run making it a 4 – 3. With one out Eddie Robinson hit a single and the tying run was on 1st with one out. Labine got another double play this time from renowned manager Billie Martin to finish out the 8th. The 9th was three ground ball outs, and Labine had saved his second straight game.
In relief, he got a total of 22 outs in back to back games on back to back days.
Larry Sherry is next up. Most LAD fans know the story of Larry Sherry. He won the World Series MVP because of the amazing work he did in relief. He was only a rookie but he saved the Dodgers bacon time and time again in 1959. Still, I was surprised to see just how long Sherry did pitch. Game two of the 1959 series was just a run of the mill nine out appearance. Sherry entered the game in the bottom of the 7th with the score 4 – 2. He would finish the game while giving up one run in the 8th. Game six was a different beast. The Dodgers were blowing the game open, having scored six runs in the top of the fourth to take an 8 – 0 lead. Podres however quickly gave back three runs and Alston went to Larry Sherry with just one out in the 4th and the score 8 – 3. Sherry would pitch the rest of the game in scoreless fashion and win game six and end the World Series. The 17 outs he recorded in relief were more outs than most Dodger starters could get in 2016.
Mike Marshall got nine outs or more twenty-two times during his Cy Young 1974 season. He would do it one time in the 1974 series. Unfortunately for Mike that game is known as the Joe Rudi game, because Mike gave up a home run to Rudi with the game tied at 2 – 2 in the 7th inning. Mike would finish the game with three innings but the home run marred his effort. That was game five and the last game of the series as the A’s won four of the first five games. That is not indicative of how close the series was or how brilliant Mike Marshall had been in the Series. Marshall pitched in all five games of the series piling up nine innings in five games. The only run he gave up was the Joe Rudi home run.
Charlie Hough got at least nine outs twice while finishing the two games but one was not the same as the other. Charlie was a knuckleballer so the stress on Charlie was not same stress other relief pitchers have. In 1977, game three was 5 – 3 when Charlie entered in the 7th inning. The score would also end 5 – 3. Charlie was brilliant going three innings, no runs, only one hit. Strangely enough, he didn’t walk anyone. In game five things’s didn’t go as well. The Yankees were already winning 5 – 2 when Charlie came in to bail out Lance Rautzan in the fourth inning. Hough allowed one inherited runner to score. Lasorda left Charlie in, and in the bottom of the 7th, he was battered for four runs. He would finish the game having gotten 13 outs, but also gave up five runs on ten hits.
Steve Howe was involved in what I still think was the most exciting World Series game ever played at Dodger Stadium that didn’t involve Kirk Gibson. The NYY had a 2 – 1 game lead and Bob Welch didn’t get an out to start game four. With the bases loaded and no outs the much-maligned Dave Goltz replaced Welch and managed to keep the NYY from scoring only one more run. By the time Steve Howe entered the game in the top of the 7th the score was tied at 6 – 6, after the greatest inning that didn’t involve Kirk Gibson took place in the bottom of the 6th. Howe would give up one run in three innings and collect the win as the Dodgers won 8 – 7 but it wasn’t easy. You think yesterday was stressful? In the top of the 9th, the NYY loaded the bases before Howe got the final out to preserve the victory. Trust me, it was stressful and just as much fun when stress turned to victory.
The biggest surprise for me on this list was Bob Welch. Because I was around for it and did not remember his great work. It came in the first game of the 1978 NLCS against the Phillies. Burt Hooten started and the Dodgers whomped the Phillies to take a 7 – 1 lead. Hooten couldn’t hold it, though and was knocked out in the bottom of the 4th as the Phillies scored three more runs off him. Welch came in with the score 7 – 4 with a runner at 2nd and HOF Mike Schmidt at the plate Welch retired Schmidt to end the inning. Welch would pitch the rest of game getting thirteen outs and giving up only one meaningless run in the 9th as the Dodgers won 9 – 5. Unlike the others on this list, Bob Welch was a starting pitcher who had made thirteen starts during the season. He was also a rookie, this would be like Julio Urias finishing a game after coming in relief for a starter who got knocked out early. It was still an impressive outing but it wasn’t done by someone used to only getting three outs at a time.