Today I will name the right handers to my All Fenway pitching staff. Remember they must have 100 decisions in a Red Sox uniform and I will start with the most recent and work my way back.
Fenway Park 1912.
The first right hander to make the staff…..
Pedro Martinez arrived in Boston in 1998. Acquired by General Manager Dan Duquette from the Montreal Expos in what may well be the greatest trade in Red Sox history, Pedro was coming off a 1997 season in which he won the National League Cy Young Award. In seven years in Boston he was 117-37 (.760) with a 2.52 ERA.
Pedro won back to back Cy Young Awards in 1999 and 2000.
He led the league in wins once, winning percentage three times, ERA four times, shutouts once, strikeouts three times and strikeouts per nine innings four times. In 1999 he won the pitching triple crown leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts becoming the first (and only) Red Sox pitcher to strikeout 300 batters in a season, (313). Pedro pitched for Boston in the midst of what one day will be designated the “Steroid Era”. When historians factor that into the evaluation of Pedro Martinez with Boston, they may well conclude that he had the most dominant stretch by any pitcher in baseball history!
The next righty…..
Roger Clemens 1984-1996 won three Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox and was the 1986 MVP, the only Sox pitcher to win the MVP Award.
“The Rocket” arrived at Fenway Park in 1984 with more fanfare, more promise than any Red Sox pitching prospect in their history. In 13 years with Boston he fulfilled that promise going 192-111 (.634) with a 3.06 ERA. Always among the league leaders in all pitching categories, he led the league in wins twice, ERA four times, complete games twice, shutouts five times and strikeouts twice. He is the Red Sox all time strikeout leader (2,590) and he is tied with Cy Young for most career wins by a Red Sox pitcher. His self-inflicted demise surrounding his association with steroids, took place after he left the Red Sox, thus he makes my All Fenway pitching staff.
Luis’ El Tiante” Tiant 1971-1978. His 1.91 ERA led the league in 1972.
He pitched eight seasons calling Fenway Park home, he led the league once in ERA and once and shutouts. He was 122-81 (.601) with a 3.36 ERA and never has there been a pitcher whose numbers didn’t even begin to tell the story, he was 3-0 with a 2.65 ERA in post season play with the Red Sox and therein is a hint of the whole story, and within that is a game which defines Luis Tiant.
On October 15, 1975 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati “El Tiante” took to the hill. It was game four of the World Series and the Reds held a two games to one lead. After four innings, Luis and the Red Sox were ahead 5-4 and that is where the battle began.
Luis did not have what could be called his best stuff. What Luis had was, well, Luis! Throughout the rest of the game, the Reds had men on base in every inning but one. Twice there were two on and in the ninth, Fred Lynn ran down a shot to centerfield by Ken Griffey that would have tied the game and put the winning run in scoring position. The last out of the game was a pop out by Joe Morgan.
Tiant’s line score reads a complete game 5-4 win; he surrendered four runs, walked four and struck out four. He threw somewhere between 160 and 175 pitches and in the end, he simply would not be denied. In that one game is a microcosm of Luis Tiant. Carlton Fisk said that if he had to win one game, he would give the ball to Luis Tiant. Who would argue with that? Not me!
Carlton Fisk and Luis Tiant.
Rounding out the starters…..
“Smokey” Joe Wood 1908-1915.
To round out the staff, we go back to Fenway’s beginnings. In 1912 the Red Sox had their best season ever and their best pitcher was Joe Wood. Walter Johnson said he never saw anyone throw harder than Joe Wood and had he not injured his arm he would, in all probability been one of the greatest of all time. In eight seasons on the hill for the Red Sox he was 117-56 (.676) with an ERA of 1.99. In 1912 he was 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA. He holds the Red Sox record for wins in a season (34), consecutive wins (16), career ERA (1.99) and shutouts in a season (10).
The All Fenway starting rotation is set, tomorrow we’ll put a couple of guys in the bullpen.
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, February 24, 2012.