10th anniversary: Mussina one out from perfection

10 years ago today, Mike Mussina came close, so very close, to immortality.

While pitching for the Yankees against their arch-rival Red Sox, Mussina retired the first 26 batters he faced but allowed a single to the 27th batter, pinch hitter Carl Everett.

This was not Mussina’s first near miss. Years early on May 30, 1997 he had a perfect game broken up with one out in the ninth by Sandy Alomar. This time he came one out closer.

I remember watching this 2001 game and the post-game. In the interview, Mussina said he was aware he had a perfect game as he went along, and he was aware of it in 1997, too. He just had to go out and make his pitches, but both Alomar and Everett made the swings they needed to for the ball to land between the defenders.

The 2001 game was a bit more impressive, though. Whereas Mussina fanned “only” 10 men in his 1997 near miss, he blew away 13 in 2001. He fanned five of the first six batters of the game. The only time he went a full inning without a K the Red Sox could manage only three feeble infield grounders. Every member of the starting lineup went down swinging at least once, with Brian Daubach serving as Mussina’s favorite victim with three whiffs.

Mussina needed to be nearly perfect 10 years ago today, because the Yankees give him almost no run support. They scored only one run, and that came with one out in the top of the ninth inning. Until then, any base runner could mean the Yankees fell behind.

But it was not to be. Not only was Mussina deprived of a perfect game in the ninth inning for the second time in his career, but he would never manage a no-hitter in his career. Four times he threw complete game one-hitters, but he never help the opposition hitless.

Aside from the two near-perfectos, Mussina had two other outstanding performances. On July 17, 1992, in his first full season in the majors, Mussina retired the first 12 Rangers he faced before walking Ruben Sierra to lead off the fifth. Two batters later, Kevin Reimer blasted a double for Texas’ only hit of the game. Mussina managed to preserve the shutout as he didn’t allow another base runner all game.

On Aug. 1, 2000, in his last year as an Oriole, Mussina again nearly pitched a no-hitter. He allowed two walks and a hit, but struck out a career-high 15 batters in the game. Mussina had a perfect game going until a fourth-inning walk, but preserved his no-hitter effort until Ron Coomer of all people laced a single against him he two outs in the seventh. (Immediately after that, Mussina walked David Ortiz for the final base runner of the game).

No, Mussina never did get a no-hitter, despite all his near attempts. But he never came closer to a no-hitter or to a perfect game than he did 10 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.

Day-versaries

4,000 days since a court order bans some Dodgers fans from attending home games for 18 months after throwing coffee in the face of a Mets fan cheering a Todd Pratt slam.

7,000 days since Lou Whitaker belts his 200th home run.

7,000 days since Pedro Astacio makes his major league debut, starting for the Dodgers in a doubleheader. It’s a three-hit, complete game shutout for a 2-0 win, fanning 10 and walking four along the way.

There’s an interesting backstory here: LA had to cancel several games due to the Rodney King riots earlier that year, leading to some doubleheaders. The team needed to call up some pitchers on an emergency basis. The Dodgers didn’t think much of Astacio as a prospect, but he was a warm body with a live arm. When he aced his debut, Tommy Lasorda decided to keep him around, and he ended up with a rather nice big league careers.

9,000 days since Jay Buhner makes his major league debut.

9,000 days since the scoreless inning streak of Milwaukee Brewers ace Teddy Higuera ends at 32 when he allows a home run to Detroit’s Tom Brookens.

10,000 days since Dave Kingman belts three home runs in one game for the fifth and final game of his career. They all come in his first three at-bats of the game. He has eight RBI in a 9-6 Oakland win over Seattle.

25,000 days since Lee May is born.

30,000 days since Bob Purkey is born.

Anniversaries

1850 Hall of Fame pitcher turned sporting goods magnate Al Spalding is born.

1880 The first game is played under artificial lights—a game between teams representing two Boston department stores.

1893 King Kelly, one of the biggest stars of the day, plays his last game.

1901 In the second game of a doubleheader, Washington’s infield records 21 assists in a win over the Tigers.

1907 Complete game king Jack Taylor last pitches in the big leagues.

1912 Christy Mathewson wins two games for the Giants over the Braves by scores of 5-2 and 6-1.

1914 Just six weeks after being stuck in last place, the Miracle Braves move into first place. (They’ll briefly fall out of first, but then retake it for good).

1918 With the season ending early due to World War I demands, a slew of major leaguers play their last game today, including: Bobby Wallace, Wild Bill Donovan, Tommy Leach, Davy Jones, Wildfire Schulte and Hughie Jennings.

1919 The National Commission recommends a best-of-nine World Series, which will be the norm for a few years.

1920 Connie Mack and Hughie Jennings manage their 300th game against each other.

1920 Jake Daubert lays down his 300th sacrifice hit, which has only 11 members. He’s second all-time in sacrifice hits.

1921 St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bill Doak is immediately yanked after allowing a leadoff single against Pittsburgh, and reliever (and future Hall of Famer) Jesse Haines guides the team to a 1-0 win by pitching nine shutout innings in relief.

1927 Babe Ruth hits his 400th career home run—and also gets two sacrifice hits in a game. It’s the third of four times he gets two sacrifice hits in one game. It was a very different game.

1928 Washington beats the Yankees, 2-0 thanks to Firpo Marberry with a complete game shutout and two RBI.

1929 Hall of Famer Dave Bancroft gets his 2,000th hit.

1929 A morning-afternoon Cardinal-Cub doubleheader draws 81,000.

1929 Washington’s Joe Cronin hits for the cycle, going 5-for-5 with two doubles and a personal high 12 total bases. He scores three runs and four RBI in a 10-7 win over Boston.

1929 Red Ruffing belts the first of two pinch-hit home runs in his career.

1930 Bill Terry sets a personal high with seven RBI, going 4-for-5 with a double and homer in New York’s 18-5 destruction of the Phillies. Teammate Mel Ott gets three doubles, also going 4-for-5. New York’s winning pitcher Freddie Fitzsimmons allows seven doubles.

1932 Gabby Hartnett connects for his 1,000th hit in his 1,067th game.

1932 Al Simmons sets a career high seven RBI in one game, going 3-for-6 with two homers.

1932 Kiki Cuyler belts his fifth homer in six games as the Cubs win 13th in a row. Cuyler has only 128 career home runs.

1932 Joe Medwick makes his big league debut.

1933 It’s the birth of Marvelous Marv Thorneberry, symbol of the 1962 Mets. (His initials are even M.E.T., middle name Eugene).

1935 Joe Cronin hits his first of four career grand slams.

1935 Browns manager Rogers Hornsby gets in a shoving match with pitcher Dick Coffman just before the train leaves the station. Coffman will soon be cut from the team.

1937 Commissioner-to-be Peter Ueberroth is born.

1939 Bob Elliott makes his big league debut.

1939 Red Ruffing has his worst Game Score as a Yankee. His line is: 8 IP, 19 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 1 BB, 3 K in a complete game loss to the Red Sox.

1940 Bobo Newsom loses his 100th decision, making him 117-100 for his career. He’ll end up 211-222.

1941 Charley Root, the winningest Cubs pitcher of all-time, pitches in his last game.

1942 Early Wynn surrenders a career-worst 16 hits. (He later ties this low point).

1944 Dixie Walker hits for the cycle.

1945 Van Mungo pitches for the last time in the major leagues.

1950 Pitcher Tony Pone of the Phoenix Senators in the Southwest International League throws his 38th straight complete game.

1951 Ken Raffensberger nearly tosses a no-hitter. The only hit is a scratch infield single by the third inning by Eddie Miksis on a ball that possibly would’ve rolled foul.

1952 Mike Fornieles makes his major league debut by pitching a one-hitter for Washington.

1954 Mickey Vernon gets the 2,000th hit of his career.

1954 Rick Manning is born.

1954 Dodger starting pitcher Russ Meyer wins his 16th straight decision over the Cubs, a streak that goes back to 1950.

1955 Billy Martin returns from the military.

1955 Ernie Banks becomes the first shortstop to hit 40 homers in a year.

1955 Lindy McDaniel makes his major league debut.

1957 Hank Aaron ties his all-time highs for runs (four) and RBI (six) in a game. It’s the only time he ever combines those numbers. He’s 3-for-6 with a double. Twice he comes to the plate with the bases loaded and singles each time. The Braves win, 23-10, over the Cubs.

1957 Ken Boyer plays in his worst game, 0-for-4 with four strikeouts—his only four-K game.

1958 Minneapolis approves a $9 million bond to expand Metropolitan Stadium to 41,000 seats.

1960 Ted Williams homers off Washington pitcher Don Lee, which is nice because years ago Williams homered of his dad, Thornton Lee.

1961 Starting pitcher Mike Garcia appears in his last game.

1961 Milwaukee fires manager Chuck Dressen.

1963 Pete Rose belts his first of three career inside the park homers. It’s only his second career homer and is the first pitch of the game in a 1-0 Reds win over the Mets.

1963 Yogi Berra hits his last home run.

1964 Pitcher fans Lee Stange fans four in one inning.

1964 The Braves and Phillies use 43 players in a nine-inning game, 25 by Milwaukee.

1964 Milt Pappas has his best career Game Score: 94. His line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K with a eighth inning Zoilo Versalles single ruining the no-hitter.

1964 Relief pitcher Clay Carroll makes his big league debut.

1965 Ernie Banks connects for his 400th home run.

1965 The Mets retire No. 37 for Casey Stengel. The Yankees won’t retire his number for several more years.

1965 Bud Harrelson makes his big league debut.

1966 In his 1,647th game, Roberto Clemente gets his 2,000th hit.

1966 Jim Bunning beats his favorite whipping boy, the Mets, 6-0. In his last eight starts versus them, Bunning is 8-0 with eight complete games and five shutouts, and a total four runs allowed.

1968 In the last Pacific Coast League game in Seattle, the home team tops Spokane, 4-1. The winning pitcher is Jim Bouton.

1969 Bernie Carbo makes his big league debut.

1969 The Orioles all-time franchise record (including the pre-Baltimore years) rises to 1,000 games under .500 (4,760-5,760). It’s been under that ever since.

1969 For the last time ever, Cub team captain Ron Santo does his patented heel click after a Cubs home victory.

1970 New Detroit Tiger call-up Gene Lamont homers his first major league at bat. But Boston wins, 10-1.

1970 John Lowenstein makes his big league debut.

1970 Sam McDowell issues five intentional walks in one game.

1971 Cesar Cedeno hits an inside the park home run on a 200-foot hit. Bill Buckner and Jim Lefebve collide when they try to field the ball.

1971 Darrell Porter makes his big league debut.

1971 Rich Aurilia is born.

1971 Sonny Siebert does it all by himself. He guides Boston to a 3-0 win over the defending world champion Orioles by not only pitching a complete game shutout, but also driving in all three runs by belting two homers. It’s the only CG SHO since 1920 in which a pitcher drives in all his team’s runs off multiple homers.

1972 Boston purchases pitcher Bob Veale from Pittsburgh. For many years, Veale is the only Pirates pitcher to fan 200 batters in a season. The second was Oliver Perez.

1972 Milt Pappas almost throws a perfect game. He retires the first 26 batters and then walks the 27th batter. He has a 2-2 count on the guy, but the last two pitches are called balls. The pitches by all accounts are outside the strike zones, but Pappas feels that in these circumstances he should get the call. He hasn’t stopped complaining about it since.

1973 The Tigers fire Billy Martin.

1973 For the fifth time since 1920, a player misses the cycle by a single but gets two triples. It’s Hal Breeden in this game. The double-triple-triple-homer combination hasn’t been done since.

1974 The Orioles beat the Red Sox 1-0 twice in a doubleheader. Ross Grimsley and Mike Cuellar top Luis Tiant and Bill Lee.

1974 Cincinnati’s city council passes a resolution protesting an “atrocious call” when umps call Joe Morgan out on the bases, negating the tying run in a 4-3 loss to the Astros.

1975 Jim Kaat has his longest outing: 12 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, and loses 4-1 to the Royals. It’s also the most hits he’s ever allowed in a game.

1975 Johnnie LeMaster homers in his first at bat in his major league debut. It’s all downhill for him from here.

1977 Jeffrey Leonard, nicknamed “Penitentiary Face,” makes his big league debut.

1978 Lonnie Smith makes his big league debut.

1979 Jose Cruz gets his 1,000th hit.

1979 Manny Mota gets his 145th pinch-hit, tying Smoky Burgess for the all-time lead.

1980 Mookie Wilson makes his major league debut.

1980 Wally Backman makes his big league debut.

1981 Whitey Herzog manages his 1,000th game (540-459).

1981 Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg makes his big league debut.

1981 Eric Show, controversial pitcher and member of the John Birch Society, makes his big league debut.

1982 Johnny Ray makes his big league debut.

1982 Ron Kittle, future Rookie of the Year Award winner, makes his big league debut.

1983 All-Star second baseman Harold Reynolds makes his big league debut. In the same game, Mariners teammate Phil Bradley also debuts.

1983 Tony Fernandez debuts with the Blue Jays.

1985 Jose Canseco makes his big league debut.

1986 The Cubs and Astros game begins, and is called for darkness. It’ll end tomorrow 8-7 (18) as an Astros victory. In all, 53 players get in the action.

1987 Tom Candiotti of the Indians throws his second one-hitter of the year, but loses 2-1 to Detroit thanks to seven walks and he makes an error.

1988 Gregg Olson makes his big league debut.

1990 Joe Carter gets his 1,000th hit in his 994th game.

1990 Finally! Dave Stieb, after numerous misses, finally pitches a no-hitter. Toronto tops Cleveland, 4-0. He walks five and fans nine.

1990 Lou Whitaker has his worst WPA game: -0.380 WPA. He goes 0-for-5 with a GIDP.

1991 Roberto Hernandez makes his big league debut.

1992 Jeff Bagwell gets the third and final sacrifice hit of his career. He’ll play 13 more years, but never have another one.

1992 Jerry McMorris, Oren Benton and Charles Monfort—all Colorado residents—acquire complete ownership of the Rockies.

1992 Terry Mulholland sets a record with his 14th pickoff of the year.

1993 Manny begins being Manny:Manny Ramirez makes his big league debut with Cleveland.

1995 Kirby Puckett belts his second walk-off homer in less than three weeks. He did it on Aug. 15, 1995. This is the fourth and final one of his career.

1995 Shannon Stewart makes his big league debut.

1995 After 40 straight steals dating back to July 1993, Tim Raines is finally nailed.

1996 David Cone returns to the mound after a May operation to remove an aneurysm from his pitching arm. Result: seven no-hit innings before leaving. In relief, Mariano surrenders a hit, so it’s not a no-hitter.

1996 Chris Sabo plays his last game.

1996 Mike Greenwell 9, Seattle Mariners 8. Greenwell gets all nine RBI for Boston; the most RBI in baseball history for a player who drove in all his team’s runs.

1997 Juan Gonzalez goes deep for his 247th homer run as a Texas Ranger, passing Frank Howard as all-time franchise leader in that category. The Rangers win the game 13-12 over the Dodgers, thanks to six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

1997 David Ortiz makes his big league debut.

2000 Juan Gonzalez hits his only career inside the park home run. It’s off Kenny Rogers.

2002 Mike Mussina loses his 100th decision. He’s 180-100 on his career so far.

2002 Kerry Wood fans four batters in one inning as the Cubs defeat the Brewers 17-4. Milwaukee actually has five outs in the frame as catcher Todd Hundley has two passed balls. On one of the passed balls, Hundley is able to throw the ball to first to beat the runner, but his throw is off-line and goes into right field.

2002 The Dodgers top the Diamondbacks 19-1. Mark Grace pitches the ninth inning and lampoons the distinctive mound routine of one of his teammates. (Mike Fetters?)

2002 Mike Morgan finally plays in his last game.

2002 The Moneyball A’s win their 19th consecutive game, topping Kansas City 7-6, tying the AL record for longest winning streak.

2003 Bobby Crosby makes his big league debut.

2003 Sammy Sosa belts a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 15th inning, the latest he ever goes deep in a game.

2003 In an effort to appear younger and hip, the Blue Jays unveil a new logo.

2005 Vladimir Guerrero belts his 300th home run.

2006 Javy Lopez plays in his last game.

2010 The Phillies top the Rockies 12-11 thanks to a nine-run seventh inning that features Chase Utley grand slam.

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Comments

  1. Steve I said...

    Re: “1927 Babe Ruth hits his 400th career home run—and also gets two sacrifice hits in a game. It’s the third of four times he gets two sacrifice hits in one game. It was a very different game.”

    Or a very different SH rule.

  2. Steve I said...

    Chris J.-
    I’m not the expert on this, but I think players were credited with a sacrifice on any ball that moved up a baserunner.  Kind of a maximum interpretation of the sacrifice fly rule.  My recollection is that Bill James brought it to my attention in one of his books, maybe “Win Shares”?  Or possibly the second edition of the “Historical Almanac”.  Or even it might have been a throwaway line in “Baseball Managers”.  (I’m sorry I can’t give you a definitive reference, but I lost 99% of my books a couple years ago.)

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