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Random Game: Six Wild Pitches

Posted by John Autin
On April 10, 1979, J.R. Richard set a record for the live-ball era with 6 wild pitches, but went the distance and won, 2-1. Richard struck out 13 Dodgers, 9 of them with a runner in scoring position, and held them to 2 for 16 with RISP.

Five of the six wild pitches came in the 4th through 6th innings:
  • In the 4th, with the game scoreless, Reggie Smith reached on a missed 3rd strike (WP), then stole 2nd. With 2 out, he moved up on another WP, but was stranded when Richard fanned Ron Cey.
  • In the 5th, now with a 2-run lead , Richard allowed LA's only run on Joe Ferguson's double after a single and a wild pitch. A 2-out WP moved Ferguson to 3rd as the tying run, but Bill Russell flied out to end the inning.
  • His tightest spot came in the 6th. Reggie Smith singled and stole 2nd, then went to 3rd on Garvey's infield hit. Garvey moved up on a wild pitch, putting the go-ahead run on 2nd with no outs. No problem: Richard whiffed Cey, Baker and Monday to get away with the lead intact.
Richard faced another spot of bother in the 8th, when a steal and a passed ball put the tying run on 3rd with 1 out. Strikeouts of Garvey and Baker (around Cey's walk) ended that threat.

Lastly, in the 9th, a man reached 3rd with 2 out on a walk, the 6th wild pitch and a fly ball, but Davey Lopes went down on strikes to end the game.

Richard would go on to lead the majors in wild pitches for the 3rd time in 5 years. From 1975-79, only Phil Niekro threw more wild pitches than Richard (75-74).

J.R. dominated the Dodgers in '79 (4-0, 1.32), which again was nothing new. For his career, Richard went 15-4, 1.86 against his top divisional foe, with a 0.96 WHIP and 218 Ks in 208 IP. Check out these head-to-head numbers against the major Dodger hitters of that period:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Dusty Baker 78 70 11 0 0 1 4 7 24 .157 .231 .200 .431
Steve Garvey 86 85 21 7 0 1 10 1 23 .247 .256 .365 .621
Davey Lopes 74 63 10 2 1 1 2 11 22 .159 .284 .270 .554
Rick Monday 56 48 6 1 0 4 5 6 20 .125 .218 .396 .614
Ron Cey 74 61 9 4 0 0 3 13 19 .148 .297 .213 .510
Bill Russell 63 60 11 2 0 0 2 3 18 .183 .222 .217 .439
Steve Yeager 53 48 4 0 0 1 1 4 14 .083 .154 .146 .300
Reggie Smith 52 48 10 3 0 0 0 4 13 .208 .269 .271 .540
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/5/2012.

Also in our featured game:

  • Houston RF Terry Puhl did not make an error, as he would not for the entire 1979 season. Puhl is one of 8 OFs to play 150+ games in a season without being charged with an error. Puhl also played errorless ball in 1981 (88 games), 1985-86 (100 games combined) and 1989 (103 games).
  • Reggie Smith had 2 SB and reached 1st base on a missed 3rd strike -- but was lifted for a pinch-runner in the 8th.
  • The Astros failed to homer for the 5th straight game. They would hit just 49 HRs all year, the fewest by any full-season team since 1949. Jose Cruz led the club with 9 HRs; the '79 Astros are the only full-season team since 1955 without a double-digit HR man.

Elsewhere in baseball on 4/10/79:

  • Just 5,719 show up in the Kingdome to see the Mariners keep Oakland winless at 0-5, while improving their own mark to 4-2. It is the latest date over .500 in Seattle's 3-year history. They will lose 12 of their next 13 contests, including 11 straight.
  • Oakland will finish at 54-108 with attendance of about 307,000, or less than 4,000 per home date, the worst figure of any team in the expansion era.
  • Jerry Koosman wins his first start in a Twins uniform, en route to a 20-13 season. In his last 2 years in Flushing, Koos won 11 and lost 35.
  • Speaking of the Mets, just 10,000 turn out for the Shea home opener on a Tuesday afternoon. Montreal's David Palmer works 3 scoreless innings for his first MLB win. The Amazin's fail to score in the last 10 innings of the 14-inning, 3-2 defeat.

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