Deshaies pitches Astros near title
(c) Houston Astros
Lefty fans 8 at start to set major record
by Neil Hohlfeld, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1986
Though it's hard to imagine anything upstaging the Houston Astros moving to the doorstep of winning the National League West title, Jim Deshaies came up with a way to do it Tuesday night.
Just strike out everyone in sight.
Deshaies, making his first start since Sept. 10, struck out the first eight Los Angeles Dodgers he faced to set a modern major-league record for strikeouts at the start of a game. The Astros' rookie left-hander broke a record set earlier this year by Joe Cowley of the Chicago White Sox. The all-time record is nine, set by Michael Welch in 1884. Welch pitched for the New York team in the National League.
But that was in the dark ages. Deshaies broke Cowley's record by striking out Jose Gonzalez. After that, Deshaies struck out only two other batters, giving him 10 for the game. It mattered little. Deshaies pitched his first major-league complete game, beating the Dodgers 4-0 on two hits. Deshaies, who has had a generally excellent rookie season, had not won since Aug. 24.
Obviously well-rested after a 12-day break between starts, Deshaies pitched his strongest game of the season. He has a 10-5 record, and has gone 7-1 against the NL West. While the crowd of 27,734 was mindful of Deshaies' strikeouts, another number was may have been even more important. The number two.
That's the Astros' magic number to clinch the NL West title. The Astros' win, combined with Cincinnati's 6-5 win over San Francisco, cut the Astros' number to clinch dropped to two over both the Reds and Giants.
If everything breaks right, the Astros could be the NL West champions by tonight. The Astros would have to beat San Francisco in the Dome, and Atlanta would have to beat the Reds at Cincinnati. If that happens, the Astros will have their first division title since 1980 and the second in the 25-year history of the franchise.
Deshaies began his record-breaking run by striking out Steve Sax, Reggie Williams and Enos Cabell in the first inning. The tip-off that Deshaies was back to his midseason form came in that inning. The first three Dodgers were swinging and missing at Deshaies' high fastball. In his previous three starts, hitters were either making contact or laying off that pitch.
But Cabell struck out on a pitch over his head to end the first, a sign that Deshaies was back in the groove. In the second inning, Deshaies had to work to fan Pedro Guerrero. After working the count to 3-2, Guerrero fouled off nine pitches before taking a change-up that just caught the inside corner.
"I figured if he kept fouling fastballs off, something else might work," said Deshaies.
Alex Trevino and Jeff Hamilton both went down swinging at fastballs. With those strikeouts, Deshaies tied the modern National League record for strikeouts at the start of the game. Both Andy Messersmith of Los Angeles in 1973 and Pete Falcone of the New York Mets in 1980 had fanned six straight.
By now, Deshaies seemed even more pumped up. He threw a high 2-2 fastball past Dave Anderson to tie Cowley's major-league record and needed only to fan Gonzalez, who had 23 strikeouts in 73 trips, to set the record. Gonzalez fouled back the first two pitches. Deshaies threw one ball, then fired a strike past the late-swinging Gonzalez for the record.
"Billy (Doran, the Astros second baseman) came in and asked if I wanted to keep the ball," said Deshaies . "I didn't want to give it up, it was working too well. I told him I'd get it at the end of the inning.
"The idea of a foul ball never crossed my mind. I guess I was that out of it. There was a foul, but it was against the screen so I was able to keep it."
Larry See, a pinch hitter for starting pitcher Dennis Powell, also seemed a likely candidate to strike out. In his 15 at-bats, See had fanned six times. Deshaies got the count to 1-2, but See popped out to second baseman Billy Doran, and became the first Dodger to put the ball into play.
"Everybody was mad at me," said Doran. "They wanted me to drop it so he could get more strikeouts."
Deshaies, who had 111 strikeouts in 125 innings before Tuesday's start, had missed a turn in the rotation because Manager Hal Lanier thought he might be a bit arm-weary.
"His velocity was 89 (mph) tonight, the highest it's been all season," said Lanier. "I always ask Les (pitching coach Moss) before the game how the starter looks in the bullpen. Tonight, Mossie told me that Jimmy looked the best he had all season. He (Moss) must be a genius."
Deshaies figured he would be stronger tonight than he was when he gave up seven hits and three runs on Sept. 10 at Los Angeles. Eight straight strikeouts never crossed his mind. "To be a strikeout pitcher, you've got to have good movement, good location and good velocity," said Deshaies . "They tell me I have good movement, I put the pitches in a place where hitters swing and I've got better velocity than (former junk-baller) Randy Jones.
"Also, it doesn't hurt to use mirrors. You guys don't know that (center fielder) Billy Hatcher had a mirror out there."
By the time the Dodgers made contact, Deshaies was working with a 2-0 lead. The Astros scored twice off Powell in the first inning, using two walks, a double, a sacrifice fly and an error. Billy Hatcher led off with a walk, and Billy Doran moved him to third with a chopped double down the left-field line. Phil Garner's sacrifice fly made it 1-0, and an error by Dodgers third baseman Hamilton brought home another run.
Deshaies gave up the first hit to the Dodgers when Sax led off the fourth with a clean single to left. Bass' excellent sliding catch of Williams' sinking liner started a run of 10 straight Dodgers retired by Deshaies. This time, he struck out only one batter. Deshaies put a third strike past Guerrero to end the fourth inning. During the middle innings, the Dodgers made better contact but seven of their outs came on either pop-ups or fly balls.
The Astros took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Alan Ashby hit his sixth home run of the season off reliever Balvino Galvez. Galvez and Alejandro Pena kept the Dodgers close, limiting the Astros to two hits in their five innings of work.
During those middle innings, the result of the Reds' win over San Francisco went up on the board. With Deshaies zipping through the Dodgers, the crowd was in a preclinching party mood. So, too, were the Astros.
"Champagne tomorrow, right?" said reserve Jim Pankovits. Deshaies deserved some Tuesday night.
ASTROS NOTES - Shortstop Dickie Thon was ejected from Tuesday's game by home plate umpire Dave Pallone in the fourth inning. Thon protested after Pallone called him out on strikes. Bert Pena took over for Thon, whose only other major-league ejection came last season against the Dodgers ... When Steve Sax broke up Jim Deshaies' no-hitter to lead off the fourth inning, the Dodgers second baseman extended his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest in the National League this season. Kevin Bass of the Astros had a 20-game streak earlier. Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees has a current 22-game streak, which is the longest in baseball this year.
Mark Knudson, one of the two young pitchers traded by the Astros to Milwaukee for Danny Darwin, has given up seven home runs in his first three games in the American League. "I've got some bad Dome habits I have to break," said Knudson. "The parks in this league are so small that it seems like all the hitters are swinging from the heels. No wonder the pitchers throw a lot of breaking balls." Knudson said he has been told by the Brewers that he figures into their starting rotation plans for next year. "In the long run, I guess (being traded) was good for me," said Knudson, "but I'd sure like to be in Houston right about now."
Jose Cruz will be presented with a plaque naming him as Puerto Rico's "Athlete of the Year" Thursday before the start of the game against the San Francisco Giants. Cruz, a native of Arroyo, Puerto Rico, and one of three brothers to play in the major leagues, was selected for the honor by a panel of baseball officials and sportswriters from the island. The presentation will be made by Jose Ortiz-Daliot, director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington. The annual award was proposed by Ortiz-Daliot as a means of recognizing Puerto Rico's outstanding athletes while also calling the attention of U.S. mainland fans to the contributions of Puerto Rican star athletes in major league baseball other professional sports . Cruz was picked for his hitting as well as fielding abilities.
Major league pitchers who have struck out the most consecutive batters at the start of a game in the modern era (since 1900):
- 8 - Jim Deshaies, Houston, Sept. 23, 1986.
- 7 - Joe Cowley, Chicago White Sox, May 20, 1986.
- 6 - John Hiller, Detroit, Aug. 6, 1968.
- 6 - Ray Culp, Boston, May 11, 1970.
- 6 - Bert Blyleven, Minnesota, Sept. 16, 1970.
- 6 - Andy Messersmith, Los Angeles, May 28, 1973..
- 6 - Pete Falcone, New York, May 1, 1980.
Ryan: Deshaies' command key to standout showing
by Alan Truex, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1986
For one startling game at least, Jim Deshaies was a left-handed Nolan Ryan. He did something the original Nolan Ryan never has been able to accomplish - opening a game with eight straight strikeouts.
And no one else in the 20th century has been able to accomplish that feat. Not Walter Johnson, nor Bob Feller nor Sandy Koufax.
The greats of Cooperstown were upstaged by a big, gangling and usually hesitant plodder, a rookie who had been banished from the starting rotation due to a run of failures: four straight games in which he couldn't make it past the fifth inning.
And even though the 26-year-old Deshaies was throwing harder than usual on Tuesday night, and even though he has managed a 10-5 won-lost record, he never will match the Ryan Express for sheer velocity.
But what Deshaies did have that Ryan sometimes lacks is control. "He had real good command of his pitches," Ryan said, "and he got ahead of the hitters. That's the key on a deal like that. He had a good high fastball and they were chasing it up."
Deshaies is big, at 6 feet 4 and 225 pounds, and as Ryan observed, he "hides the ball real well."
The Los Angeles Dodgers were having trouble following the ball while being victims of Deshaies' 4-0 shutout in the Astrodome.
And the Dodgers didn't help themselves, Ryan said, by their tendency to be impatient, to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.
"They see the high pitch," Ryan said, "and they can't lay off it. It's a hard pitch to lay off of but it's a hard pitch to hit. They all went up swinging. There was only one called strikeout I remember - (Pedro) Guerrero on a 3-2 pitch - a change-up, a heck of a pitch."
Deshaies' normal routine is to take his time and ponder each delivery, but he worked briskly during his strikeout stretch.
"I think he was pumped up and he went right at them right out of the box," Ryan said. "He was aggressive."
Ryan, baseball's all-time strikeout champion, twice has struck out eight straight batters, but not at the start of the game.
Ryan, 10-8, will pitch tonight against San Francisco, which is tied with Cincinnati for second-place in the NL West. A victory tonight by the Astros, combined with a Cincinnati loss to Atlanta, will give Houston the division title.
Game of 9/23/1986 -- San Francisco at Houston (N)
Courtesy of Retrosheet
Los Angeles AB R H RBI Houston AB R H RBI
Sax S, 2b 4 0 1 0 Hatcher B, cf 3 1 1 0
Williams R, lf 3 0 0 0 Doran B, 2b 4 1 1 0
Cabell E, rf 4 0 1 0 Garner P, 3b 2 0 0 1
Guerrero P, 1b 3 0 0 0 Walling D, ph-3b 1 1 1 0
Matuszek L, 1b 0 0 0 0 Davis G, 1b 2 0 0 0
Trevino A, c 3 0 0 0 Bass K, rf 4 0 0 0
Hamilton J, 3b 3 0 0 0 Cruz J, lf 3 0 1 0
Anderson D, ss 3 0 0 0 Ashby A, c 4 1 1 1
Gonzalez J, cf 3 0 0 0 Thon D, ss 1 0 0 0
Powell D, p 0 0 0 0 Pena B, ss 1 0 0 0
See L, ph 1 0 0 0 Deshaies J, p 3 0 0 0
Galvez B, p 0 0 0 0
Russell B, ph 1 0 0 0
Pena A, p 0 0 0 0
Duncan M, ph 1 0 0 0
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
29 0 2 0 28 4 5 2
Los Angeles 000 000 000 -- 0
Houston 200 100 01x -- 4
Los Angeles IP H R ER BB SO
Powell D (L) 2.0 1 2 2 3 1
Galvez B 3.0 2 1 1 0 2
Pena A 3.0 2 1 1 3 4
Houston IP H R ER BB SO
Deshaies J (W) 9.0 2 0 0 1 10
Game winning RBI -- Garner P
E -- Hamilton J, Galvez B, Anderson D
DP -- Los Angeles 1
LOB -- Los Angeles 3, Houston 8
2B -- Doran B
HR -- Ashby A
SB -- Bass K 2, Hatcher B, Cruz J
SH -- Deshaies J
SF -- Garner P
A -- 27,734
Play by Play
Game of Thursday, 9/25/1986 -- San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros
Courtesy of Retrosheet
Los Angeles Houston
1. 2b Steve Sax cf Billy Hatcher
2. lf Reggie Williams 2b Bill Doran
3. rf Enos Cabell 3b Phil Garner
4. 1b Pedro Guerrero 1b Glenn Davis
5. c Alex Trevino rf Kevin Bass
6. 3b Jeff Hamilton lf Jose Cruz
7. ss Dave Anderson c Alan Ashby
8. cf Jose Gonzalez ss Dickie Thon
9. p Dennis Powell p Jim Deshaies
DODGERS 1ST: S.Sax struck out; R.Williams struck out; E.Cabell
struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 0.
ASTROS 1ST: B.Hatcher walked; B.Doran doubled [B.Hatcher to
third]; P.Garner out on a sacrifice fly to E.Cabell-rf
[B.Hatcher scored, B.Doran to third]; G.Davis walked; K.Bass
reached on an error by J.Hamilton-3b [B.Doran scored (no RBI),
G.Davis to second, K.Bass to first]; J.Cruz forced K.Bass
(S.Sax-2b to D.Anderson-ss) [G.Davis to third, J.Cruz to first];
A.Ashby forced J.Cruz (D.Anderson-ss to S.Sax-2b) [A.Ashby to
first]; 2 R, 1 H, 1 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2.
DODGERS 2ND: P.Guerrero was called out on strikes; A.Trevino
struck out; J.Hamilton struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Dodgers 0, Astros 2.
ASTROS 2ND: D.Thon walked; J.Deshaies out on a sacrifice bunt
(J.Hamilton-3b to S.Sax-2b) [D.Thon to second]; B.Hatcher flied
to E.Cabell-rf; B.Doran struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
Dodgers 0, Astros 2.
DODGERS 3RD: D.Anderson struck out; J.Gonzalez struck out;
L.SEE BATTED FOR D.POWELL; L.See popped to B.Doran-2b; 0 R, 0 H,
0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2.
ASTROS 3RD: B.GALVEZ REPLACED L.SEE (PITCHING); P.Garner flied
to E.Cabell-rf; G.Davis flied to E.Cabell-rf; K.Bass reached on
an error [K.Bass to first (error by B.Galvez-p; assist by
P.Guerrero-1b)]; K.Bass stole second; J.Cruz struck out; 0 R, 0
H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2.
DODGERS 4TH: S.Sax singled; R.Williams flied to K.Bass-rf;
E.Cabell popped to B.Doran-2b; P.Guerrero was called out on
strikes; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2.
ASTROS 4TH: A.Ashby homered; D.Thon was called out on strikes;
Thon ejected; J.Deshaies flied to R.Williams-lf; B.Hatcher
singled; B.Hatcher stole second; B.Doran flied to J.Gonzalez-cf;
1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 3.
DODGERS 5TH: B.PENA REPLACED D.THON (PLAYING SS); A.Trevino
popped to B.Pena-ss; J.Hamilton popped to P.Garner-3b in foul
territory; D.Anderson flied to B.Hatcher-cf; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0
LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 3.
ASTROS 5TH: P.Garner grounded out (D.Anderson-ss to
P.Guerrero-1b); G.Davis popped to S.Sax-2b; K.Bass grounded out
(S.Sax-2b to P.Guerrero-1b); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0,
DODGERS 6TH: J.Gonzalez popped to G.Davis-1b; B.RUSSELL BATTED
FOR B.GALVEZ; B.Russell popped to B.Doran-2b; S.Sax grounded out
(B.Doran-2b to G.Davis-1b); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0,
ASTROS 6TH: A.PENA REPLACED B.RUSSELL (PITCHING); J.Cruz
singled; A.Ashby struck out; B.Pena grounded into a double play
(S.Sax-2b to D.Anderson-ss to P.Guerrero-1b) [J.Cruz out at
second]; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 3.
DODGERS 7TH: R.Williams grounded out (B.Pena-ss to G.Davis-1b);
E.Cabell singled; P.Guerrero flied to B.Hatcher-cf; A.Trevino
lined to P.Garner-3b; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 3.
ASTROS 7TH: L.MATUSZEK REPLACED P.GUERRERO (PLAYING 1B);
J.Deshaies was called out on strikes; B.Hatcher popped to
J.Hamilton-3b; B.Doran lined to D.Anderson-ss; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0
LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 3.
DODGERS 8TH: J.Hamilton flied to J.Cruz-lf; D.Anderson popped
to B.Pena-ss; J.Gonzalez flied to J.Cruz-lf; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0
LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 3.
ASTROS 8TH: D.WALLING BATTED FOR P.GARNER; D.Walling singled;
G.Davis walked [D.Walling to second]; K.Bass forced G.Davis
(L.Matuszek-1b to D.Anderson-ss) [D.Walling scored (no RBI)
(error by D.Anderson-ss), K.Bass to second]; J.Cruz was walked
intentionally; A.Ashby was called out on strikes while K.Bass
stole third; J.Cruz stole second; B.Pena was walked
intentionally; J.Deshaies was called out on strikes; 1 R, 1 H, 1
E, 3 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 4.
DODGERS 9TH: M.DUNCAN BATTED FOR A.PENA; D.WALLING STAYED IN
GAME (PLAYING 3B); M.Duncan was called out on strikes; S.Sax
grounded out (B.Pena-ss to G.Davis-1b); R.Williams walked;
E.Cabell grounded out (D.Walling-3b to G.Davis-1b); 0 R, 0 H, 0
E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 4.
Final Totals R H E LOB
Dodgers 0 2 3 3
Astros 4 5 0 8