Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 1968 - Gibson's Best: 2-Hit Shutout of Phillies

Monday, August 19, 1968 - At Connie Mack Stadium (Bob Gibson - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Philadelphia Phillies (Woody Fryman - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  12,278  

Major league baseball's best pitcher in 1968 - Bob Gibson - had his best performance of the year - shutting out the Phillies on two hits - as the Cardinals scored twice as many runs as they really needed to win this game:  Two.  Strangely enough, both runs were driven in by seldom-used utility outfielder Ron Davis, who got the start in center field tonight, as manager Red Schoendienst gave Curt Flood a rare night off.

Davis put the Cardinals on top early.  His second-inning single off Phillies starter Woody Fryman scored Mike Shannon from second base to stake Gibson to a 1-0 lead.  Although Fryman completed the inning with no further scoring, he was removed from the game by manager Bob Skinner prior to the start of the third-inning.  In all likelihood, Fryman suffered a minor injury of some sort - although that is unclear.  What we do know for certain is Woody was going to get tagged with the loss (11-12).

The next pitcher for Philadelphia - John Boozer - managed to keep the Redbirds scoreless until the eighth-inning - when a lead-off triple by Phil Gagliano stirred up some excitement.  Bobby Tolan entered the game as a pinch runner - but was still stuck at third after Orlando Cepeda popped up to the second baseman - and with the infield playing in - Mike Shannon grounded out to the first baseman - who made the play unassisted.  Next up - Tim McCarver was walked intentionally to get to the light-hitting Davis - who foiled the strategy by lining a single to center - scoring Tolan.

Before all that happened, Gibson had been cruising along with a no-hitter through the first five innings.  A two-out first-inning base on balls to Johnny Briggs had been the only Philadelphia base runner.  But as fate would have it, the first hit allowed by Gibson was a one-out seeing-eye single to center by none other than John Boozer.  It would be his only hit in eleven plate appearances in '68.  Go figure.

The only other hit Gibson allowed came with two-out in the eighth-inning.  After walking Clay Dalrymple, pinch hitter Johnny Callison - batting for Boozer - grounded a single to center.  But that was the extent of the Phillies' offense tonight.  Tony Taylor - representing the lead run - tried to hit one out, but his lazy fly ball to hitting star Ron Davis was an easy out.

Gibson, who finished the night with eleven strike outs, got the free-swinging Dick Allen for the fourth time - to finish 'em off in style.  His record improved to 18-5 on the season, as his ERA fell to an even 1.00 - on the way to 1.12 by season's end.

Meanwhile, to further illustrate the kind of year 1968 was in major league baseball - there were eight other games played on August 19 - and half of those also produced shutouts - the most notable of which took place between the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium.  It took seventeen-innings before the Giants finally scored the lone run of the game.  Mets rookie starter - Jerry Koosman - pitched a full twelve innings before finally being taken out of the game.  Giants starter - Bob Bolin - only made it through eleven innings.  Pitch counts?  Nobody bothered to keep track of such nonsense.

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