I could not believe that I was routing for the Boston RedSox to win tonight even though I’m a lifelong Yankee fan. Why would a true pinstriper fan ever do such an unimaginable thing? Well, trust me, I had my reasons and I’ll explain it in a minute. What made this extra painful was the fact that a win by Boston would eliminate my beloved Yankees and end their 13 year streak of making the postseason, one year short of the Atlanta Braves mark of 14 years in a row (1991 to 2006).
OK, what could possibly make me do such a dastardly thing? Well, it involves the amazing 1978 season when the Yankees made the greatest comeback in baseball history by over-coming a 14 1/2 game deficit to the same Boston RedSox in late July no less. The comeback involved the infamous Boston Massacre in which the Yanks swept a four game series at Fenway to wipe out the four game lead the RedSox owned at the time.
On a personal note, my little brother and I actually saw Ron Guidry pitch against the RedSox on September 15, 1978 for our first Yankee game ever. Guidry pitched a two-hit shutout as the Yanks won. He had nine shutouts that year.
The most important part of that incredible season was the ace of the staff, Ron Guidry. He was known as Louisiana Lightning and the Ragin’ Cajun. His best game came when he struck out 18 Angels batters. He eventually won the Cy Young Award and almost the MVP. He kept the team in the thick of things by winning even when they were struggling.
Ron Guidry’s .893 winning percentage for his 25-3 season in 1978 is the current record for the best winning percentage by a 20 game winner. It has remained the standard for 30 years now. Many pitchers have come close to breaking his record but no one has been able to do it yet.
Well, tonight, Cliff Lee’s attempt to break the record was thwarted by the Boston RedSox, ironically enough! Here were are thirty years later and Boston helps a Yankee legend keep his record for at least another season. It was such a nail-biter too. Boston lead 2-0, then fell behind 4-2 and then jump ahead 5-4 and the Indians loaded the bases in the 8th inning. All they needed was a hit and Cliff Lee would be off the hook and on pace to break the record. All he would have to do is not lose his last start next week and he would be king. However, Boston summoned their ace closer Papillon because they knew the win would clinch a playoff spot for them and eliminate their rival Yankees.
Papillon got out of the jam and closed the deal in the 9th and saved the record for Ron Guidry. I was never so happy to see the RedSox win and will never pull for them again! I promise!
Roger Clemens was in line to break the record in 2001 when he was 20-1 and a .952 winning percentage, but he lost his last two games to finish at 20-3 .869! Close, but no cigar. Ironically enough, he started his career with the Boston RedSox but was pitching for the Yankees in 2001. He ultimately won a couple of World Series with NY in 1999 & 2000.
Ron Guidry’s stats for that magical 1978 season:
Here is a list of the Best Seasons for 20 game winners along with the Louisiana Lightning’s miracle season at the very top of the heap.
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