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One for the Aged
2005-10-06 22:25
by Mike Carminati

Tonight Roger Clemens and John Smoltz were supposed to be locked in an epic picthers' duel.

Hmm…not so much

Rocket gave up a five runs in five innings including the big blast, a three-run homer to rookie catcher Brian McCann in the second that put the Braves up to stay. Smoltz at least held up his end of the deal pitching seven innings and allowing seven hits and one run.

Clemens came into the game with 341 career wins to 177 for Smoltz. Thom Brenneman at one point pontificated on why we should credit Smoltz with 250 wins, 15 for every season he was in the pen. By that logic, Doug Bair was a 300-game winner. As an aside, the Psycho Lyons-Thom Brenneman broadcast was its usual, execrable best. At one point, Brenneman actually injected the Crash Davis classic cliché "God willing" to underscore his analysis of Houston closer Brad Lidge.

Anyway, I was wondering how epochal was seeing two pitchers who embody 500+ wins between them, face off in a postseason game. So I checked…

This was just the eighth time that two men with a combined career total of 500 wins or more have faced off in the postseason (min. 150 W per pitcher). It's the first time since Jim Palmer came in in the 5th inning to defeat Lefty Carlton, 3-2, on October 14, 1983 in game three of the World Series. (as a Phillies fan, every historic event has a painful memory associated with it). It's also the first time that it's happened in any other round than the Series. Here are all of them:

1913WS606Christy MathewsonNew York Giants337Eddie PlankPhiladelphia Athletics269
1925WS589Walter JohnsonWashington Senators397Babe AdamsPittsburgh Pirates192
1983WS568Steve CarltonPhiladelphia Phillies300Jim PalmerBaltimore Orioles268
1903WS566Cy YoungBoston Pilgrims379Brickyard KennedyPittsburgh Pirates187
1982WS541Jim KaatSt. Louis Cardinals283Don SuttonMilwaukee Brewers258
1926WS521Pete AlexanderSt. Louis Cardinals327Bob ShawkeyNew York Yankees194
1928WS519Pete AlexanderSt. Louis Cardinals364Waite HoytNew York Yankees155
2005NLDS518Roger ClemensHouston Astros341John SmoltzAtlanta Braves177

(Note that in the 1911 Series, Mathewson and Plank, 514 combined wins, were on opposing teams but never pitched against each other. The same goes for Mathewson and Chief Bender, 513 wins, in the 1913 fall classic.)

Also, McCann who hit the home run off Clemens is just 21 years old. Clemens is in his 22 season.

I wondered if a pitcher has ever faced a batter who had fewer years on the planet than the pitcher had logged in a major-league dugout. I found a handful but without scouring the Retrosheet play-by-play archives, it's impossible to say:

1924WSWalter Johnson18Washington SenatorsFreddie LindstromNew York Giants18
1995ALCSDennis Martinez20Cleveland IndiansAlex RodriguezSeattle Mariners19
1996NLCSDennis Eckersley22St. Louis CardinalsAndruw JonesAtlanta Braves19
1996NLCSDennis Eckersley22St. Louis CardinalsJermaine DyeAtlanta Braves22
1996NLCSRick Honeycutt20St. Louis CardinalsAndruw JonesAtlanta Braves19
1998ALDSDennis Eckersley24Boston Red SoxEnrique WilsonCleveland Indians24
1998ALDSDennis Eckersley24Boston Red SoxJaret WrightCleveland Indians22
1998ALDSDennis Eckersley24Boston Red SoxRichie SexsonCleveland Indians23
2001NLDSMike Morgan21Arizona DiamondbacksAlbert PujolsSt. Louis Cardinals21
2001NLDSMike Morgan21Arizona DiamondbacksBud SmithSt. Louis Cardinals21
2003WSRoger Clemens20New York YankeesMiguel CabreraFlorida Marlins20
2004NLCSRoger Clemens21Houston AstrosYadier MolinaSt. Louis Cardinals21

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