Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20, 1968 - Time Management Lesson From Gibson & Jenkins

Thursay, June 20, 1968 - At Busch Stadium II (Bob Gibson - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Chicago Cubs (Fergie Jenkins - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  26,550

Whenever Gibson and Jenkins oppose each other, two things usually happen:  (1) Very few runs are scored and (2) everything gets wrapped up in a couple of hours.

Very few runs had been scored in the first two games of this series, but they all scored when St Louis was batting - a 1-0 nine-hit shutout by Nelson Briles on Tuesday and a 4-0 one-hit shutout by Steve Carlton just the night before.  Carlton walked none and struck out nine Cub batters - arguably, the most dominant single-game performance of his career - and that's saying something.

Now the Cubs were facing not only the best pitcher on the Cardinals' staff - Gibson was the best pitcher in baseball - and getting even better.  His last three starts had all been shutouts, and Gibson realized he'd probably have to throw another one tonight, in order to beat the ace of the Cubs' staff - Fergie Jenkins.

And that's exactly what he did - 9 IP - 5 H - 0 R - 1 BB - 6 SO.  His ERA dropped to 1.21 after this game, and it would drop a bit further by the time the season ended (1.12).

The only run of the game came in the bottom of the third-inning with two out - when Lou Brock tripled into right field - and scored on a Curt Flood single to left field.  After Brock scored, he casually strolled over to where his pal, Gibby was seated in the dugout, and advised him, "There's your run."  Gibson was in no mood for levity, as he glared at his mischievous teammate while Tim McCarver and Orlando Cepeda overheard the exchange, and roared their approval.

Brock was right.  That was Gibson's run - as it was the only run allowed by Jenkins in his eight-innings of work.  The Cardinals could only muster four hits all game off Jenkins.  He walked two and struck out eleven.  Coincidentally, when computing earned run averages - one earned run allowed in eight-innings pitched, comes out to precisely a 1.12 ERA.  Imagine keeping that pace up for an entire season - 34 starts.

As expected, both pitchers provided us with a good lesson in time management:  Work quickly and efficiently, don't waste time with needless visits to the mound - and above all else, don't waste time with needless pitching changes.

This one ran five minutes over the two hour mark.  Just another typical Gibson - Jenkins ballgame.

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