Skip to main content

"Whiff" of Fresh Air

I know many of you are preoccupied with thoughts today about how the Braves are a formidable foe (not to brag, but we knew that on Tuesday), but I'm going to focus elsewhere.

So apparently Daisuke Matsuzaka proved he was the real deal on Thursday, striking out 10 in his major-league debut as the Red Sox beat the Royals. Every baseball pundit in America (and Japan) is analyzing the performance today, guessing what it means for the future of this young, Japanese attention-getter. It got me to wondering what the Mets record was for strikeouts by a pitcher in a major-league debut.

It turns out that the answer is eight and that two pitchers share the mark. The 40th anniversary of their debuts comes in the next week, so it seems appropriate to reference it now.

I presume most of you reading this blog know who Tom Seaver (the pitcher, not the winemaker who likes to leave games early) is, so I won't go into explaining his background or the postscript, but just tell you his debuting details. I will tell you that the New York Times story regarding his first big league appearance doesn't even mention his name until the 8th paragraph. Eight also stands as the number of strikeouts of Pittsburgh Pirates that Seaver had on a chilly April 13th New York night in which only a handful more than 5,000 braved the elements for the ballpark.

Seaver lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits. He also hit two batters and walked four. His lone quote in the game story: "I just ran out of gas."

The more impressive performance was turned in by reliever Chuck Estrada, who escaped Seaver's sixth inning jam by getting Roberto Clemente to hit into a double play, then tossed two scoreless frames to preserve a 2-2 tie. It should be noted that this while Seaver's finest moments were in his Mets future, Estrada's were in the immediate present. He finished the season, his last in the majors, with a 9.41 ERA.

Anyways, the Mets were winners in this, their second game of the season, in what one blogger friend likes to call "walk-up" fashion (won by scoring in the last of the 8th). With two outs and Jerry Buchek on third base, Chuck Hiller doubled in the go-ahead tally. Ron Taylor retired Maury Wills, Clemente and Willie Stargell in order in the top of the 9th and the Mets had themselves a 3-2 victory.

The other Met to record eight strikeouts in his big league debut did so just three days later and the game story for him had a few more details. Bill Denehy lasted a little longer than Seaver, 6 1/3 innings against the Phillies, also allowing two runs, but only three hits. His problem was not the six walks he issued, but the two-run homer he surrendered to Richie Allen. The other issue was that his mound opponent was Larry Jackson, who shut the Mets out for his 16th straight win against them.

The newspapers noted that Denehy, who lost 2-0, "pitched handsomely" until the moment of Allen's home run and detailed his preparation for the start (in bed at 10, up at 6). His future seemed reasonably bright, but for one problem. The Mets could not score any runs for him. In Denehy's first four starts, he allowed 13 runs, a respectable number. The Mets scored a total of one run. In his eight starts with the team that season, the Mets managed more than one run just once.

Perhaps that's the reason that he became more useful in another manner. He was the compensation provided to the Senators the next winter when the Mets hired their new manager, Gil Hodges.

Our guess on Matsuzaka's fate is that he falls in line somewhere between being the next Tom Seaver and the next Bill Denehy. That seems like a pretty safe analysis to me.

True Metzuzakas know...The most strikeouts by a Mets starter, making his major league debut in a walk-off win (lot of parameters there) is six, by Paul Wilson, in the Mets-Cardinals game of April 4, 1996, which we referenced in yesterday's post.

By the way, I see there was a walk-off HBP in the Indians-White Sox game on Thursday. For those curious, such an event has only happened once in Mets history. You can read about it here:
http://metswalkoffs.blogspot.com/2005/07/boston-bean-party.html

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for