Not-so-Hot in Cleveland

The Tribe dropped another extended contest to Toronto by 7-4 in 12 innings Saturday, after losing their opener in 16 frames.

But take heart, Indians fans: The last team to start its season with two losses of 12+ innings wound up winning 97 games and easily capturing its division.

The 1969 Twins, coming off a 7th-place finish, opened against the freshly minted KC Royals. The upstarts won their franchise inaugural in the 13th, when Joe Keough (brother of Marty and uncle of Matt) singled home Joe Foy for the only game-ending RBI of his 6-year career.

  • A couple of future Yankee managers worked in that game: Billy Martin made his managerial debut for the Twins, en route to 97 wins, the first AL West division crown, and his first abrupt firing. And Lou Piniella led off for KC and got the first 4 hits of his career, a good start to his ROY campaign.
  • Charlie Manuel made his MLB debut, grounding out as a pinch-hitter.
  • Rod Carew, a modest .283 hitter over his first two seasons, had 2 hits en route to a .332 BA and the first of his seven batting titles.
  • Minnesota’s first run came on a HR by Graig Nettles, batting 5th and playing LF. Due to a logjam in the form of Harmon Killebrew, one of the greatest defensive third basemen in MLB history played mostly OF while with the Twins.
  • The win went to Moe Drabowsky, the only man from Poland ever to play more than 22 games in the majors. How stacked were the Orioles at that time? Drabowsky in 1967-68 averaged a 1.72 ERA/180 ERA+ in 78 IP, but was exposed in the expansion draft.
  • Oddly, less than 18,000 fans turned out for the Royals’ first game. Perhaps they were still a little gunshy after seeing the A’s leave town not two years before.

The next day, Piniella went just 1 for 7, but the hit was a game-winning RBI single in the 17th. The scoring chance was abetted by a productive groundout by KC hurler Tom Burgmeier, who had just come into the game to quell a threat in the top of the inning.

  • Burgmeier was a respectable hitter who went 14 for 66 before the DH rule; he also was used 39 times as a pinch-runner during his long career. You don’t hear much about him, because he rarely served as “closer.” But Burgmeier had one of the best late careers of any reliever, averaging a 2.50 ERA, 167 ERA+ and 78 IP from age 35 to 40. He never did lose his effectiveness, posting a 2.35 ERA in his final season; I guess he just decided he’d pitched enough. When he retired after ’84, he was 9th on the career list with 742 relief outings.

Another note to cheer Clevelanders: The last team to win a game in 2011 was the Tampa Bay Rays, and their season still wound up all right.

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41 Comments on "Not-so-Hot in Cleveland"

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Ed
Guest

Thanks for trying to cheer us up John, but I’m pretty sure we won’t win 97 games this year. Anyway, I posted this in the new Lobby, but thought I’d mention it here as well:

1) Both starters last night gave up more runs than hits. Wonder if that’s happened before?

2) Both starters had essentially the same line: 7IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 3 walks, 3 Ks. Only difference is that the runs Morrow gave up were unearned.

Doug
Guest
The answer is No, it’s never happened before (since 1918) that both starters have gone 7 innings and both have allowed more runs than hits. I also posted this in the Lobby, so I’ll repeat here as well that this was only the 6th game since 1918 that both starters have allowed 1 hit or less in appearances of 7 innings or more, and the first of those 6 times that neither starter finished the game. So, two firsts today. I found only one other game where a starter had a 7 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 H, 3… Read more »
Ed
Guest

Thanks Doug! Unfortunately, comments in the Lobby don’t show up under “Recent Comments”. Maybe Andy can adjust that?

Neil L.
Guest
I should weigh in since I may be partly responsible for Andy implementing the lobby. Assuming Andy keeps it, the lobby is my first stop when I cone to High Heat Stats, even though there is no record of number of comments or recent activity in the sidebar. I just want to see what real-time, short comments were made during games, to get a sense of what shoot-from-the-hip thoughts people had, without a lot of statistical depth. (Besides I can’t wait for the bar to open on the far side of the lobby from where I’m standing 🙂 ) I… Read more »
AlbaNate
Guest

Didn’t know about the lobby until just now. Is it a new feature? Don’t know how I missed this, as I’ve read just about every post on this site.

Neil L.
Guest

Just follow the tinkle of glasses and you’ll find the lobby. You’ll love the 90-inch large-screen H-Def screen behind the bar. 🙂

nightfly
Guest

The lobby… nice idea. It sounds like the game threads on our hockey board: much more instant reaction while we all watch in our separate abodes, a virtual bar where nobody tries to change the channel to basketball.

Those posts tend to rack up 500+ comments; of course no NHL team plays every single day, so you might not get that volume here. But I still think it will be a welcome addition.

Ed
Guest

I understand where you’re coming from Neil and it does sound like an interesting idea. I also have a feeling it will become unwieldy very quickly, as the comments pile up. Time will tell.

bstar
Guest

I have changed my mind a bit and now think posting Lobby comments in the “Recent Comments” column would quickly overwhelm the regular article posts, making it harder to follow the meatier threads.

Neil L.
Guest

Indeed, Ed, I was thinking while listening to the game that the pitching lines, collectively, were going to be unusual.

Jiminez was still no-hitting the Jays after 6.7 innings until Brett Lawrie’s big single (or should I say, bingle, JA?).

vivaeljason
Guest

Somehow I don’t think Cleveland’s season is heading in the same direction as the Twins’ ’69 season did, what with the Tigers set to dominate the division. Then again, there’s always the second wild card.

As for teams yet to win this year, I’d say the Yankees are the team that probably shouldn’t worry. It’s still way too early to be talking about that, though.

Steven
Guest

Only one of the four franchises added in 1969 drew over a million fans (Montreal) in their first season. San Diego barely passed 500,000. As for the Indians, they probably won’t match the 14-2 start of 1966, but maybe they’ll end up 81-81, which is what that team “accomplished.”

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Here’s the obligatory mention of Jim Bouton’s classic book “Ball Four”, which chronicles much of the 1969 Seatle Pilots season. It really does give you a great feel for what it was like to be a player on that club.

Neil L.
Guest

Lawrence….. I remember you as a regular poster from B-Ref days. ~jumps and down~ 🙂

And I see you are number four in the “top ten” list. Now I’m really glad I found HHS. ~sucks up to LA and sees his nickname initials match the California city~

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Hey Neil L, –
Welcome Back!! – I remember you also, from the “days of yore” at B-R. I see you are already up to 125 posts, you’ll probably pass me in a month or so.

I post here a lot, depending on my level of interest. I’m more “historically” interested (HOF arguments, “all-time” teams, etc…), but do follow MLB (esp. the Red Sox) day-to-day during the season.

MikeD
Guest

I had to go back and take a look at Carew’s first two years, since it didn’t seem possible he could have been as low as a .283 hitter. That’ll happen when season two happens to be 1968, the year of the pitcher.

Anyway, I best call it a night. I’m on baseball overload, just happy to see real games that matter the past few days. Perhaps it was the staggered start with Japan and then the week off between, but this season seemed to take forever to get off the ground.

Doug
Guest

As noted in another post a week or so ago, those ’69 Twins also had a game where they scored two runs in an inning via a steal of home, including consecutive steals of 2nd, 3rd and home by Carew. Oh, and all of that happened during the same plate appearance. By Harmon Killebrew.

Billy-ball indeed.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN196905180.shtml

Doug
Guest

Not only did the Twins lose those first two games in KC, they lost the next two as well to fall 3 games behind. But, that’s as far back as they would get all season.

The Twins then went on a 16-3 run for a 2.5 game lead. After bouncing around through May and June between 3.5 up and 1.5 down,the Twins moved into first place alone on July 5th and remained there the rest of the way.

Neil L.
Guest

JA, thanks for the snapshot back in time to 1969. No one knew than about the individuals involved in the KC-Twins game what we know now.

Minnesota certainly prospered with the change to two divisions in 1969, winning the first two west division titles. They must have been glad not to have had to contend directly with the powerhouses Baltimore or Detroit to make the AL post-season.

Hmm 1969 … the first year of non-WS playoffs. And look where we are today. A wild-card “round” added to everything else.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you, being a Blue Jays follower.

Phil Gaskill
Guest

Dunno if I’d call .283 for 1967 and ’68 “modest.” In ’67, Carew hit .292, sixth in the league, whose overall BA was .236; and in ’68, when the AL’s BA was .230, Carew hit .273, which looks like it would have been 11th in the league. Not vintage .388 Carew, but still not too sloppy for the first two years of a guy’s career. His OPS+ the two years was 111 and 95.

Sorry if someone else has already commented on this. I just got pulled off this project by my wife, the ol’ spoilsport. 😉

Steven Lash San Diego
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