Continuing our look into Rockies’ beatdowns at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies, we turn the calendar one page to June of 1993 and find much more of the same. Were these guys in our division or something? Why couldn’t we get them to go away?
As if the Memorial Day series at Mile High wasn’t bad enough, the Rockies had to turn right around and head to Veterans Stadium for a 3-game series as the visiting team. And they did not play well. But I’ll tell you something that might surprise you: they did not get swept. They almost did, but they didn’t.
The first game of this series, on June 4th, was a 2-1 Rockies win. How did they pull that off? Give a heap of credit to starting pitcher Willie Blair, who showed none of the signs of advanced psychological trauma that other Rockies pitchers exhibited in the previous series. He pitched a tidy 8 1/3 innings, allowing 14 baserunners but preventing all but one from scoring. That was in the 9th inning, when he gave up a double to Mickey Morandini with 1 out and Ricky Jordan on 3rd. Since this was now a 1-run game, kudos to Don Baylor for pulling the plug on Blair instead of giving into the temptation to let him go the distance. In my experience Rockies pitchers do not fair well under those circumstances when the game is on the line. And let’s collectively pat Gary Wayne on the back as well. He came in to close that sucker out and did it in 12 pitches, securing the win for Blair.
So how did the Rockies manage to eke out 2 runs, just enough to win the game? Terry Mulholland certainly didn’t make it very easy on them. He, in fact, did pitch a complete game, and took the loss. He also put up a way better line than Blair’s: 7 hits as opposed to 10, 0 walks as opposed to 4, and 14 strikeouts as opposed to 6. Yes, you read that right: FOURTEEN K’s and a complete game, and he recorded a loss. This is why people have problems with the win-loss record as a measure of a pitcher’s value. Mulholland even struck out the side in the 8th, and he did it with 11 pitches.
The Rockies just got lucky. That’s the only explanation I have. They whiffed at everything Mulholland threw until the 9th inning. Eric Young led off with a swinging strikeout, naturally. Chris Jones singled to right. Mulholland’s first pitch to Dante Bichette resulted in a passed ball, advancing Jones to 2nd. Bichette grounded out, which moved Jones to 3rd. Then Andres Galarraga and Charlie Hayes hit back-to-back doubles, and that was all it took. Jim Fregosi let Mulholland finish the inning because, why not? He struck out Joe Girardi looking. But thanks to the brilliance of Blair and Wayne, the Rockies went home winners. Well, back to their Holiday Inn in south Philly.