Friday, December 14, 2012

#470 - AL Playoffs/'73 Playoff Statistics



We are now up to the next batch of special cards, in this case the ones commemorating the ’73 post-season. It was a very good one with each of the three series going the maximum amount of games. It included one upset and another near-one, both provided by the New York Mets, a team that barely broke the ‘500 barrier during the regular season. Here Reggie Jackson uncorks one of his monstrous swings in Oakland and, guided by the angle on catcher Andy Etchebarren’s head, the ball appears headed for the outfield. Reggie is an interesting subject matter for the AL Playoffs card because while he’d go on to earn his Mr. October nickname, it wasn’t for anything he did in this series. Catfish Hunter would have been a more apt choice but it was Reggie’s MVP year so Topps was probably doing a little marketing. Maybe in doing the narrative for the series we can nail down the time of this photo.

To make these cards a bit less pedestrian than I’d always thought them back in the day I think it would be nice to recap the games that made up the series. This AL one certainly highlighted the two best teams in that league from those days. Oakland was smack in the middle of five consecutive AL playoff runs and Baltimore had only missed that series in ’72, making every other one from ’69 to ’74. The teams were nearly mirror images of each other: great pitching, timely power, and superior defense. That they went the maximum five games is no real surprise. Here’s the recap:

Game 1: Jim Palmer shuts down the A’s in Baltimore in a 6-0 game in which he gave up five hits – and an uncharacteristic five walks – while striking out 12. It was the first post-season series in which the DH was employed and fittingly, Tommy Davis, the Baltimore guy, hit the game-winner in the top of the first when he doubled home Merv Rettenmund. Tommy had three hits and first baseman Earl Williams had two, including a first-inning single that knocked starter Vida Blue out of the game. Vida continued his below-standard performance in the series by giving up four runs and on three hits, two walks, and a wild pitch in two-third’s of an inning. He was relived by Horacio Pina and then Blue Moon Odom who both pitched well. But the damage was done and Baltimore opened the series pretty convincingly. Etchebarren had an interesting day: he was in the shower when his apartment building caught on fire so he had to scram in just a towel; and Pina hit him with his first pitch in the first. He also had two hits. Reggie did knock one to center field in the game, so I’ll keep an eye on that for the card shot.

Game 2: Like the first game this one was a weekend one in Baltimore. There the similarities ended as the top of the Oakland order rediscovered their strokes and Bert Campaneris, Joe Rudi, and Sal Bando went a combined seven for 13 with five runs and six RBI’s to lead the A’s to a 6-3 win. Campaneris hit a homer to lead off the game and Baltimore tied it in the bottom of the inning when Tommy Davis, who continued his hot hitting with two hits, grounded out to score Al Bumbry. It was a pitcher’s duel between Dave McNally and Catfish Hunter through the fifth, though Bando had one over the fence when Al Bumbry – pretty amazing since he was only 5’8” – snagged it. In the sixth Rudi and Bando hit successive solo shots to lead off the inning and then Earl Williams knocked in Rich Coggins – both those guys had two hits as well – for a run. In the top of the eighth Bando broke it open with another homer – this one a two-run shot – off McNally who was replaced by Bob Reynolds after giving up a walk. Catfish left in the eighth as well after giving up singles to Davis and Williams and Rollie Fingers came in, giving up a single to Brooks Robinson that scored Williams (they got Davis earlier on a fielder’s choice). Bert knocked in Angel Mangual in the ninth to complete the scoring. So Catfish won his first in a typical Catfish game: seven-plus innings, seven hits, three walks, and five K’s, along with the three runs – he loved drama – and Fingers got a save. McNally got hurt by all the homers but outside of that had a line similar to Catfish – 7 2/3-7-5-5-2-7. Reynolds had a tough inning-plus, giving up that Mangual run, and Grant Jackson finished things. Reggie went o-fer, flying out to the outfield a couple times. But with Earl Williams behind the plate, this shot for sure isn’t from this game. On to Oakland!

Game 3 – After a rain-out the first game on the left coast was a Tuesday day game – remember those? – that was classic Oakland-Baltimore. Things started sloppy for the A’s: Bobby Grich, the game’s second hitter, lined a shot to the outfield and got to second on an error by Dick Green on a Tommy Davis grounder. But Don Baylor struck out to leave those two guys on base. Then Earl Williams hit a solo shot off Ken Holtzman in the second. It looked like shades of the second game until – well – the next batter. Holtzman and O’s starter Mike Cuellar traded shutout innings until the bottom of the eighth when the A’s manufactured a run and made Dick Williams again look like a genius: Jesus Alou pinch hit for Ray Fosse and singled to left field. Allan Lewis – the Panamanian Express and one of Charlie O’s designated runners – pinch ran for Jesus. Mike Andrews then pinch hit for Dick Green and bunted, sending Lewis to second. After Campy struck out, Joe Rudi lined one into the left-center gap, scoring Lewis. You never see scoring like that any more; nor do you see two starters going strong into the ninth. In the top of that inning Vic Davalillo at first nailed Paul Blair in the back on a throw to second allowing Blair, who’d singled, to reach third on two outs. But then Holtzman again struck out Baylor to kill that threat. After 1-2-3 innings both halves of the tenth and another Holtzman gem in the eleventh, Bert Campaneris decided to end things in the bottom of the inning with his second solo shot of the series. A 2-1 11-inning complete game win for Holtzman and a complete game loss for Cuellar, the game took under two-and-a-half hours even though it went into extra innings. Holtzman gave up only three hits, a walk, and struck out seven. Cuellar nearly matched him with four hits, three walks, and eleven K’s. Now that’s a well-played game. Reggie struck out twice and had two infield ground outs so unless the photo is of a foul ball – and Etchebarren seems to be looking to left-center so I don’t think so – this shot isn’t from this game either.

Game 4 – Another day game in Oakland, Game 4 was a rematch of Game 1, with Jim Palmer going up against Vida Blue. This time Vida got through the first as did Palmer. But Jim had a tough time the next inning: After a lead-off double by Gene Tenace and a single by Vic Davalillo – that little guy was hot – two successive doubles by Ray Fosse and Dick Green brought three runs across and after a walk to Bert Campaneris, Palmer was pulled. Again, he was followed by Bob Reynolds who this time had much better success as he shut down the A’s through the sixth. He gave up a liner to left by Reggie – so that may be this photo – but Jackson was nailed by Andy Etchebarren trying to steal which was the only Oakland runner until Gene Tenace walked and Davalillo singled, sending Tenace to third. Fosse then sacrificed Tenace home and Oakland was looking like a lock, up 4-0. In the meantime Vida was doing a nice job imitating Catfish Hunter from a couple days before, giving up just two hits and two walks though six. The top of the seventh got messy, though: a walk by Earl Williams was followed by singles by Don Baylor and Brooks Robinson, scoring Williams. Etchebarren then had the big hit, a three-run homer that drove Vida from the game. In came Fingers, who got out of the inning unscathed. In a tied-up game Oakland threatened again in the eighth when a Campy single chased Reynolds and Eddie Watt came in, giving up a sacrifice bunt and plunking Sal Bando. He was out and Grant Jackson then killed the rally with two ground-outs. Bobby Grich pulled a Campy in the top of the eighth, lofting a solo shot off Fingers, who then got out of the inning on an unusual double play: he struck out Earl Williams and on the same pitch Fosse gunned down Tommy Davis trying to steal second. The A’s got a runner via a walk in the bottom of that inning and Brooks Robinson doubled in the top of the ninth but both guys got stranded and the game ended 5-4 Baltimore. Fingers took the loss and the O’s relievers did a super job, combining for a run on three hits and three walks through nearly eight innings, with Grant Jackson getting the win. Right now the Reggie single in the third has the edge for the photo.

Game 5 – With the series tied, Baltimore sent Doyle Alexander up against Catfish Hunter. Alexander had a good regular season against Oakland and lefty Dave McNally wasn’t really a consideration because he needed more rest. Ditto Mike Cuellar. So Catfish and Doyle traded shutout innings until the third when things got wiggy. Ray Fosse got on via an error by – gasp! – Brooks Robinson and then got sacrificed to second by a Dick Green bunt. Joe Rudi then knocked in Fosse on a single to left but then got nailed at second to end the inning. In the fourth a Gene Tenace single, Vic Davalillo – wow! – triple, and Jesus Alou single brought in two more runs and chased Alexander. He was relieved by a surprise choice – Jim Palmer. The two Cy winners then traded shutout ball the rest of the game. Catfish of course supplied the drama – every inning he gave up a shot to the outfield - but he was his normal post-season clutch self and in the end he won his second game of the series with a five hit, two walk shutout. Palmer gave up only two hits in his four-plus but that first unearned run held up - Baltimore deserved better than that – as Oakland won its second straight AL playoffs. And Reggie lined another shot to left with Etchebarren behind the plate so who knows. The photo could be from Game 4 or Game 5. Here’s what I’m going to do, though. Given that orange-painted dugout behind Reggie, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’ve been all wet: the game was in Baltimore and the photo is from Reggie’s single to center in Game 1.


The card back has all the Oakland stats from the series and when you look at them you see four guys in my opinion more deserving of face time on the card than Reggie: Bert Campaneris and Vic Davalillo on the hitting side and Catfish and Ken Holtzman as pitchers. The O’s were tough though and deserve their own stats so here they are:

Batting
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
 AVG


Baker
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
        -  


Baylor
4
11
3
3
0
0
0
1
  0.273


Belanger
5
16
0
2
0
0
0
1
   0.125


Blair
5
18
2
3
0
0
0
0
   0.167


Brown
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
        -  


Bumbry
2
7
1
0
0
0
0
0
        -  


Coggins
2
9
1
4
1
0
0
0
  0.444


Crowley
2
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
        -  


Davis
5
21
1
6
1
0
0
2
  0.286


Etchebarren
4
14
1
5
1
0
1
4
  0.357


Grich
5
20
1
2
0
0
1
1
   0.100


Hood
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
        -  


Powell
1
4
1
0
0
0
0
0
        -  


Rettenmund
3
11
1
1
0
0
0
0
   0.091


Robinson
5
20
1
5
2
0
0
2
  0.250


Williams
5
18
2
5
2
0
1
4
  0.278



5
171
15
36
7
0
3
15
   0.211














Pitching
G
ST
CG
W
L
IP
R
ER
 BB
SO
 ERA
Alexander
1
1
0
0
1
   3.2
3
2
        -  
1
   4.91
Cuellar
1
1
1
0
1
  10.0
2
2
         3
11
   1.80
Jackson
2
0
0
1
0
   3.0
0
0
          1
0
      -  
McNally
1
1
0
0
1
   7.2
5
5
         2
7
  5.87
Palmer
3
2
1
1
0
  14.2
3
3
         8
15
   1.84
Reynolds
2
0
0
0
0
   5.2
2
2
         3
5
   3.18
Watt
1
0
0
0
0
    0.1
0
0
        -  
0
      -  

5
5
2
2
3
 43.0
15
14
        17
39
  2.93

Pretty tight series.

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