A Bad Week For Wallach, Who Loses 0.00 Career Era

Posted: May 09, 1989

There are certain landmark weeks in baseball history that no one ever will forget. Here at Week in Review headquarters, we think last week was one of them.

Any time some Jose Oquendo-type impostor goes to the pitcher's mound, it's always a big week from our standpoint. But last week, we didn't have just one mystery pitcher out there toeing the rubber. We had four of them.

On Monday, it was second baseman-turned-righthanded reliever Tom Foley hurling for the Expos in a 19-6 loss to the Reds. His line: 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 home run by unsympathetic Reds catcher Jeff Reed.

Then, on Thursday, it was superflake Mickey Hatcher's turn to join that deep Dodgers staff in a 12-0 loss to the Cardinals. His interesting line went: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1 balk.

On Saturday, Expos manager Buck Rodgers shockingly turned his back on Foley and went with third baseman Tim Wallach to finish off a 13-3 blowout loss to the Braves. Wallach's line: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, O BB, O K, 1 balk.

And finally, on Sunday, Dan Gladden revived his legendary curve ball for the Twins in a 12-1 wipeout by the Indians.

We'll get to the bottom of Gladden's escapades in the AL section. But the best news angle to come out of the three superlative NL outings concerned Wallach.

Before Rodgers asked him to pitch on Saturday, Wallach had been the proud owner of an 0.00 career ERA, thanks to a shutout inning he had twirled against the Giants on May 31, 1987. After that, he announced his retirement from pitching so that he could safely transport his 0.00 ERA all the way to the Baseball Encyclopedia.

But somehow, Wallach was coaxed out of that retirement Saturday. And naturally, disaster ensued.

"I blew my perfect ERA," he said. "Next time, if the bullpen wins the Rolaids award, I won't be in the picture."

Meanwhile, Foley didn't even manage to preserve his 0.00 ERA through one hitter. In his first trip to the hill since Little League, he ran the count to 3 and 2 on his former teammate, Reed. Then he watched in horror as Reed pounded the next pitch into the right-field seats, making Foley the first pitcher in history to allow Reed's fifth hit of the day.

In retrospect, Foley said later, "I should have drilled him."

At least Hatcher didn't have any regrets like that. He did drill the first hitter he faced - Tim Jones. The good news was that he went on to throw the only hitless inning the Cardinals had all night. The bad news was that they didn't need any hits to score, since Hatcher also tossed in three walks and a balk.

The Dodgers did clock him at 82 miles per hour, though - the same as Fernando Valenzuela.

"I've been waiting 10 years to do this in the majors," Hatcher said after his pro pitching debut. "I needed one more inning. I was finding the zone.

"I was going to use my spitter. But I forgot where I put the stuff.

"I just wish I could have held them without a run," he said after the Dodgers' narrow 12-run defeat. "We might have battled back and won this thing."

Hatcher did accomplish one feat that few Dodgers have pulled off: He actually caused those laid-back Southern California partisans to delay leaving the park until after the ninth inning.

"They were on their way home," Hatcher said. "I was stopping them and telling them to get back to their seats."

And they were smart to listen. After all, you can see Orel Hershiser pitch any time. But only the chosen few will be able to tell their grandchildren they saw Mickey Hatcher pitch.

PLAYING UGL-EEEE

A mere 113 years ago, the Braves and Cardinals set a baseball record that will never, ever be broken. Even if Pepe Frias decides to come out of retirement.

On June 14, 1876, those two teams somehow combined to commit 40 errors in one game (nine just by Braves second baseman Andy "Slippery Fingers" Leonard). We're still checking on reports that the official scorer was found floating in the Mississippi the next morning.

But as secure as that record is, every once in a while a couple of teams will come along to try to challenge it. And just last weekend, in the first Saturday night game ever played at Wrigley Field, the Cubs and Padres gave it a tremendous shot.

They committed 11 errors between them. That may have left them 29 short of history, but it was more than enough to make Week in Review. There were six errors by the Padres. There were five by the Cubs. And there was at least one by every starting infielder except Cubs first baseman Mark Grace, who still is wondering where he went wrong.

Cubs manager Don Zimmer unabashedly called it "the worst big-league game I've ever seen." Padres infielder Tim Flannery regarded it as a clear sign that "they aren't supposed to play night games here."

And, after dodging one Shawon Dunston throw that sailed into his dugout on the fly, Padres manager Jack McKeon said, "We felt like wearing batting helmets in the dugout, the way balls were flying in there."

The game included three errors by Padres second baseman Roberto Alomar (Nos. 9, 10 and 11 for the year). It also included two errors by normally infallible Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, one of which was his first throwing error in 248 games.

But the biggest stir was caused by a ball that wasn't even an error. In the eighth inning, Dunston drilled a ball off the glove of Padres third baseman Randy Ready for what looked like error No. 12. But it was ruled a hit, prompting massive booing from the error-crazed 34,748 folks in attendance.

"Can you believe that?" a stunned Ready asked afterward. "They wanted errors. And they wanted errors bad."

Must have been a few descendants of those 1876 Braves in the house.

VANISHING MAN OF THE WEEK

This update just in on America's most famous diet - the one that has made Tommy Lasorda the Incredible Shrinking Linguine Lover.

At last weigh-in, Lasorda was down to a svelte 189 pounds. And we would love to report that he doesn't miss real food one bit.

Too bad it's not true.

"Yeah," Lasorda said. "I'm seeing giant clams in my sleep."

RALPH KINERISM OF THE WEEK

This week's classic from our favorite malaprop machine was overheard by Ralph Kiner addict David DeVries of Lancaster.

It came during a Mets-Braves game, when Kiner's buddy, Tim McCarver, brought up the sad tale of Braves reliever Bruce Sutter. Never at a loss for a unique angle on any story, Ralph responded:

"He's going to be out of action for the rest of his career."

Kind of reminds us of our own career, actually.

SLUMPER OF THE WEEK

When you're a lifetime .287 hitter and you're hitting .186, life gets real complicated in a hurry. Take it from Padres outfielder John Kruk.

Until last season, he had hit .300 for six straight seasons. Now, all of a sudden, he has turned into a regular Pete Koegel. He's going so bad, in fact, that last week his father listened to a game on the radio and then called him with some tips.

"You know you're in trouble," Kruk said, "when somebody tells you what you're doing wrong, and they're not even watching the game."

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

* Giants reliever Mike LaCoss, after walking 5-foot-8 miniature Pirate John Cangelosi:

"They shouldn't allow him in the league. He's too small."

* Jack Clark, talking about what it was like to play with all those speedsters on the Cardinals:

"I'm looking forward to the day when I can come back and play in an old- timers' game. I want to see all those guys I played with when we're all gray and fat, when I can run as fast as they can, when I can bring them down to my speed."

* The Cardinals' Pedro Guerrero, talking about what it's like to be an ex- Dodger:

"Now I'm bleeding red. That's the way I'm supposed to bleed. I'm not supposed to bleed blue."

AIMLESS FACTS OF THE WEEK

* BOX-SCORE LINE OF THE WEEK - Nice day Expos reliever Joe Hesketh had last Monday. His team lost to the Reds, 19-6. And Hesketh saw his ERA go from 5.16 to 11.25 in 1 1/3 innings. His attractive pitching line looked like this: 1 1/ 3 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 balk. Things got so ugly, he even got yanked in mid-inning so that his second baseman (Tom Foley) could finish up. Now that hurts.

* HITLESS WONDER OF THE WEEK - Astros infielder Eric Yelding hasn't gotten a hit yet. But if he ever does, he'll be the winner of the annual Last Guy to Get a Hit competition. Yelding is 0 for 2 in his exhausting rookie year. So by sheer lack of action, he has outlasted his competition. Last to fall was the Giants' Donnell "I Am Not a Crook" Nixon, who was 0 for 11 before exploding for seven hits over the weekend. And Tracy Jones, Nixon's teammate, finally got off an 0-for-21 schneid with a single off Pittsburgh's Randy Kramer. Jones then saved the ball and announced: "That hit means more to me than my first major-league hit off Steve Carlton."

* GOPHERBALLER OF THE WEEK - It isn't easy to give up 12 home runs in 35 innings. But Phillies ace Don Carman has done it. Just so you have that in perspective, we found 14 NL starters who didn't give up that many all last season. Phew.

* NAME OF THE WEEK - What's in a name? Plenty, if you're the Expos. They

went 0-4 last week in games involving pitchers named Smith. Dave got a save against them Thursday. Bryn pitched and lost for them Friday. Zane beat them Saturday. And Pete beat them Sunday. According to Montreal public-relations whiz Richard Griffin, however, Zane still has lost to the Expos more times (five) than any other Smith. Second is Messer (as in Andy Messersmith), with four.

* TRADE OF THE WEEK - That deal that sent Rey Quinones to the Pirates has had a big impact so far. Quinones finished April hitting .087 (4 for 46). But miraculously, the guy who replaced him in Seattle (Omar Vizquel) topped him by going 4 for 48 (.083). Meanwhile, Quinones already has as many errors (nine) as the guy he succeeded (Rafael Belliard) had all last season. Other than that, though, it's been a heck of a trade.

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