(c) Houston Astros
To this day, no two words strike more fear into the hearts of Giants and Mets fans than "Mike Scott".
A lightly-regarded fastballer in the Mets bullpen, Scott was traded to Houston for Danny Heep in 1982. Scott languished in the Astros bullpen as well, wondering how long his career would last. Enos Cabell took him aside one day and suggested that Scott should train with Roger Craig, an early proponent of the split-fingered fastball, who was also conveniently between managerial jobs at the time. Scott took the idea to Astros' GM Al Rosen, who then arranged the training session with Craig.
In the off-season between 1984 and 1985, Scott learned the new pitch under Craig's tutelage in one week in San Diego. It transformed his career. In 1985, he became the ace of the Astros' pitching staff, winning 18 games.
Scott had a storybook season in 1986. On September 25, he no-hit the Giants (who were managed by none other than Roger Craig) to clinch the NL West pennant. Then, he garnered the Astros' only two victories in the epic 1986 NLCS against the Mets.
On this night, September 9, 1989, Scott achieved his 100th victory as an Astro with a three-hitter against, you guessed it, Roger Craig and his San Francisco Giants. Regarding the Frankenstein he created, Craig would only repeat the old charges, dating back to 1986, that Scott scuffed the ball.
Scott, for his part, remains coy on the issue. He will neither confirm nor deny the scuffing charges. He prefers to let his former opponents, and we fans, wonder.
Mike Scott went on to win 20 games in 1989, his only 20-win season. Injured in 1990 and 1991, he retired. His jersey, #33, was retired by the club on October 3, 1992.
Please read the Astros Daily interview with Mike Scott.
He's great again: Scott's 3-hitter narrows gap to 5
(c) Houston Astros
by Kevin Newberry, Houston Post
September 9, 1989 - Two down, five to go.
The numbers are getting lower and thanks to Mike Scott, the Astros' playoff chances got a little better Saturday night.
Scott pitched a three-hitter as the Astros defeated San Francisco 4-1 at the Astrodome to cut the Giants' lead to five games in the National League West.
The Astros can complete a three-game sweep with a victory in today's series finale, which would put them only four games behind with 19 to go.
Ironically, they will face former Astro Bob Knepper, who was released by the Astros on July 28 and is still on the Astros' payroll.
"If we can get thta one, we're back in the hunt," Manager Art Howe said. "We want that one badly. We've come a long way. If we win, they'll have to start thinking about us a little bit -- if they're not already."
While the victory was the Astros' fourth in a row over the Giants at the Astrodome, the odds of completing a comeback are still against them. If the Giants merely play .500 baseball (10-10) over their last 20 games, the Astros will have to go 15-5 just to tie.
"As you can see from the clubhouse, I don't think anyone is too super-excited," said Steve Lombardozzi, who doubled in the second inning and scored on a single by Scott to give the Astros a 3-0 lead. "These last two games won't mean a lot unless we win tomorrow."
Making matters worse, the Giants play 13 of their last 19 at home while the Astros play 13 of their last 19 on the road. And three of their remaining four head-to-head games are scheduled for Candlestick Park, where the Astros are 1-5 and have been outscored 22-7.
"We still have a lot of ground to make up," said Scott, who earned a career-high 19th victory and became only the sixth pitcher to win 100 games with the Astros.
"If they had a seven- or eight-game lead whenthey left here, they wouldn't care who's behind them. We had to give them something to worry about. We're not going to give it to them."
Saturday was Scott's night to carry the baton, and he didn't disappoint a crowd of 37,711. His teammates handed him a 2-0 lead in the first inning and he never relinquished it despite several delays while home-plate umpire Bob Engel checked the ball for scuff marks.
Scott, 19-8, became the first 19-game winner in the National League and tied for the lead with his ninth complete game.
After going 1-3 with a 6.10 earned run average since July 31, Scott appeared back in his old form and improved his record to 5-1 against the Giants at the Astrodome.
Scott, who has given up 21 first-inning runs this season, got off to a quick start and had a no-hitter going through 3 1/3 innings until Will Clark tripled off the top of the center-field wall.
"I threw a shutout in the first inning, so I knew we had to win this game," said Scott, who has four starts left to become the Astros' first 20-game winner since Joe Niekro in 1980. "I haven't been feeling bad, but I just hoped to turn it around tonight and I did."
Scott avenged one of his worst outings of the season on August 5 in San Francisco, where Scott allowed six runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings and came out of the game with a strained hamstring as the Astros lost 7-0.
That was a day when San Francisco Manager Roger Craig claimed he was going to use television cameras to prove Scott scuffs the ball, and the controversy returned Saturday when the Giants twice asked Engel to check the ball for scuff marks.
"I didn't give it much though," said Scott, who has grown accustomed to such actions over the past four years. "The umpire checked the ball and didn't find anything."
Scott was headed for his third shutout before allowing a run in the ninth inning. After a leadoff double by Ernest Riles in the fifth, Scott retired 12 consecutive batters before allowing a run in the ninth to spoil his bid for his third shutout.
Scott was glad he was at the Astrodome and not Candlestick. While he struck out seven batters, he retired 18 on fly balls. And once again, the Astros shut down home run leader Kevin Mitchell, who is only 9-for-44 against the Astros this season.
"That makes your chances a lot better," Scott said. "They've got a pretty good lineup all the way through, but it's good to hold a couple of them down. There were a few balls that I thought could have been out of here. They hit the ball hard."
The Astros wasted no time giving Scott all the runs he would need off San Francisco starter Kelly Downs, 3-6, who lasted only four innings and allowed three runs on four hits.
After giving up a leadoff walk to Gerald Young, Downs gave up a run-scoring double to Kevin Bass and a run-scoring single to Glenn Wilson to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
Scott's RBI in the third gave them a 3-0 lead and the Astros added an insurance run in the eighth off reliever Jeff Brantley when Bass hit a one-out single to left and scored on two consecutive wild pitches.
"We scored some runs early and Scott came out throwing the ball exceptionally well," Howe said. "He's just a big-game pitcher -- that's all there is to it."
Craig stays on Scott's case
by Robert Falkoff, Houston Post
As long as Roger Craig is around to voice his disapproval, it seems the "Scuffgate" controversy will never go away.
Shortly after Astros' pitcher Mike Scott shut down San Francisco 4-1 on a three-hitter Saturday night, the Giants manager again accused Scott of scuffing the baseball.
Craig even showed the media a baseball which he said was evidence that Scott was doctoring the ball.
"Anybody want a scuffed ball for dinner?" Craig asked, placing the baseball beside his post-game meal.
"If that ain't scuffing, I don't know what is. I don't blame Mike Scott. I'd do it too if I knew I could get by with it."
Craig then picked up the baseball off his desk and pointed to a scuff mark.
"That's caused by sandpaper," Craig said. "A ball doesn't look like that if it hits the dirt."
Craig said the ball in question happened to bounce into the Giants' dugout. In the sixth inning, with Will Clark at the plate, Craig had attempted to catch Scott by asking home plate umpire Bob Engel to check the baseball.
"He didn't look the ball over," Craig said. "Engel said, 'I just threw the ball to him.' I said, 'well, that's when he scuffs it.' The umpires don't want to catch him because they don't want to get involved. They don't have the backing of the commissioner or the league."
Clark, who had one of the three hits off Scott, said he saw nothing out of the ordinary in terms of movement on Scott's pitches.
"Roger asked to see the ball, but I didn't care," Clark said. "I didn't feel there was anything unusual going on. That's when Roger came out and insisted that the ball be checked."
Craig said Scott has two or three ways in which he scuffs the ball.
"He's very clever," Craig said. "It's not just me who sees it. Players who have been over there in Houston with him say he does it, too. Still, he comes back with it. He's got a lot of guts, I'll say that."
Craig, who once taught Scott to throw a split-finger fastball, stopped short of saying that Scott's alleged scuff ball cost the Giants the ballgame. By dropping the first two games of a weekend series, San Francisco's lead in the National League West has been reduced to five games.
"It's very hard to beat the Astros in this ballpark," Craig said. "They play extremely well here. We've just got to come back (today) and play a good game. This next one is going to be very important."
Rest assured, Craig is happy that Scott won't be on the mound for the Astros in the series finale.
Game of 9/9/1989 -- San Francisco at Houston
Courtesy of Retrosheet
San Francisco AB R H RBI Houston AB R H RBI
Butler B, cf 3 1 0 0 Young G, cf 3 1 0 0
Nixon D, rf 3 0 0 0 Ramirez R, ss 4 0 0 0
Laga M, ph 1 0 0 0 Bass K, lf 4 2 2 1
Clark W, 1b 4 0 1 0 Davis G, 1b 4 0 1 0
Mitchell K, lf 3 0 1 1 Wilson G, rf 4 0 1 1
Williams M, 3b-ss 4 0 0 0 Caminiti K, 3b 3 0 0 0
Riles E, 2b 3 0 1 0 Biggio C, c 2 0 0 0
Kennedy T, c 3 0 0 0 Lombardozzi S, 2b 3 1 1 0
Uribe J, ss 1 0 0 0 Scott M, p 3 0 1 1
Oberkfell K, ph-3b 2 0 0 0
Downs K, p 1 0 0 0
Weaver J, ph 1 0 0 0
LaCoss M, p 0 0 0 0
Bathe B, ph 1 0 0 0
Brantley J, p 0 0 0 0
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
30 1 3 1 30 4 6 3
San Francisco 000 000 001 -- 1
Houston 210 000 01x -- 4
San Francisco IP H R ER BB SO
Downs K (L) 4.0 4 3 3 1 3
LaCoss M 3.0 1 0 0 1 1
Brantley J 1.0 1 1 1 0 1
Houston IP H R ER BB SO
Scott M (W) 9.0 3 1 1 2 7
Game winning RBI -- none
E -- Uribe J
DP -- San Francisco 1
LOB -- San Francisco 4, Houston 4
2B -- Bass K, Lombardozzi S, Riles E
3B -- Clark W
SB -- Biggio C, Butler B
WP -- Downs K, Brantley J 2
PB -- Biggio C
T -- 2:24
A -- 37711
Play by Play
Game of Saturday, 9/9/1989 -- San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros
Courtesy of Retrosheet
San Francisco Houston
1. cf Brett Butler cf Gerald Young
2. rf Donell Nixon ss Rafael Ramirez
3. 1b Will Clark lf Kevin Bass
4. lf Kevin Mitchell 1b Glenn Davis
5. 3b Matt Williams rf Glenn Wilson
6. 2b Ernest Riles 3b Ken Caminiti
7. c Terry Kennedy c Craig Biggio
8. ss Jose Uribe 2b Steve Lombardozzi
9. p Kelly Downs p Mike Scott
GIANTS 1ST: B.Butler flied to G.Wilson-rf; D.Nixon flied to
G.Young-cf; W.Clark struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0,
ASTROS 1ST: G.Young walked; K.Downs threw a wild pitch (it was
the first pitch) [G.Young to second]; R.Ramirez struck out;
K.Bass doubled to left field (it was the 1-2 pitch) [G.Young
scored]; G.Davis struck out; G.Wilson singled to left field (it
was the first pitch) [K.Bass scored, G.Wilson to second (on
throw home)]; K.Caminiti struck out; 2 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
Giants 0, Astros 2.
GIANTS 2ND: K.Mitchell walked; C.Biggio allowed a passed ball
(it was the first pitch) [K.Mitchell to second]; M.Williams
struck out; E.Riles flied to K.Bass-lf; T.Kennedy flied to
K.Bass-lf; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Giants 0, Astros 2.
ASTROS 2ND: C.Biggio flied to K.Mitchell-lf; S.Lombardozzi
doubled to left field (it was the first pitch); M.Scott singled
to left field (it was the first pitch) [S.Lombardozzi scored];
G.Young flied to K.Mitchell-lf; R.Ramirez forced M.Scott
(M.Williams-3b to E.Riles-2b) [R.Ramirez to first]; 1 R, 2 H, 0
E, 1 LOB. Giants 0, Astros 3.
GIANTS 3RD: J.Uribe flied to G.Young-cf; K.Downs struck out;
B.Butler flied to K.Bass-lf; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0,
ASTROS 3RD: K.Bass popped to E.Riles-2b; G.Davis reached on an
error by J.Uribe-ss (it was the first pitch) [G.Davis to first];
G.Wilson forced G.Davis (K.Downs-p to E.Riles-2b) [G.Wilson to
first]; K.Caminiti popped to J.Uribe-ss; 0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 1 LOB.
Giants 0, Astros 3.
GIANTS 4TH: D.Nixon popped to R.Ramirez-ss; W.Clark tripled to
center field (it was the 2-0 pitch); K.Mitchell popped to
C.Biggio-c in foul territory; M.Williams flied to K.Bass-lf; 0
R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Giants 0, Astros 3.
ASTROS 4TH: C.Biggio flied to K.Mitchell-lf in foul territory;
S.Lombardozzi grounded out (E.Riles-2b to W.Clark-1b); M.Scott
grounded out (K.Downs-p unassisted); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Giants 0, Astros 3.
GIANTS 5TH: E.Riles doubled to right field (it was the 1-1
pitch); T.Kennedy struck out; K.OBERKFELL BATTED FOR J.URIBE;
K.Oberkfell popped to K.Caminiti-3b; J.WEAVER BATTED FOR
K.DOWNS; J.Weaver struck out; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Giants 0,
ASTROS 5TH: M.WILLIAMS CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING SS);
K.OBERKFELL STAYED IN GAME (PLAYING 3B); M.LACOSS REPLACED
J.WEAVER (PITCHING); G.Young grounded out (W.Clark-1b
unassisted); R.Ramirez flied to D.Nixon-rf; K.Bass flied to
D.Nixon-rf; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0, Astros 3.
GIANTS 6TH: B.Butler flied to G.Young-cf; D.Nixon flied to
G.Young-cf; W.Clark flied to K.Bass-lf; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Giants 0, Astros 3.
ASTROS 6TH: G.Davis singled to center field (it was the first
pitch); G.Wilson grounded into a double play (M.Williams-ss to
E.Riles-2b to W.Clark-1b) [G.Davis out at second]; K.Caminiti
grounded out (W.Clark-1b unassisted); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.
Giants 0, Astros 3.
GIANTS 7TH: K.Mitchell flied to G.Young-cf; M.Williams flied to
K.Bass-lf; E.Riles struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0,
ASTROS 7TH: C.Biggio walked; S.Lombardozzi grounded out
(K.Oberkfell-3b to W.Clark-1b) [C.Biggio to second]; C.Biggio
stole third (it was the 2-2 pitch); M.Scott struck out; G.Young
grounded out (W.Clark-1b unassisted); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
Giants 0, Astros 3.
GIANTS 8TH: T.Kennedy popped to K.Caminiti-3b; K.Oberkfell
flied to G.Young-cf; B.BATHE BATTED FOR M.LACOSS; B.Bathe struck
out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0, Astros 3.
ASTROS 8TH: J.BRANTLEY REPLACED B.BATHE (PITCHING); R.Ramirez
struck out; K.Bass singled to left field (it was the 2-2 pitch);
J.Brantley threw a wild pitch (it was the 0-1 pitch) [K.Bass to
third]; J.Brantley threw a wild pitch (it was the 1-1 pitch)
[K.Bass scored]; G.Davis grounded out (K.Oberkfell-3b to
W.Clark-1b); G.Wilson lined to K.Oberkfell-3b; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 0
LOB. Giants 0, Astros 4.
GIANTS 9TH: B.Butler walked; M.LAGA BATTED FOR D.NIXON; M.Laga
popped to K.Caminiti-3b; B.Butler stole second (it was the 0-1
pitch); W.Clark grounded out (S.Lombardozzi-2b to G.Davis-1b);
K.Mitchell singled to left field (it was the 1-0 pitch)
[B.Butler scored]; M.Williams forced K.Mitchell (R.Ramirez-ss to
S.Lombardozzi-2b) [M.Williams to first]; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
Giants 1, Astros 4.
Final Totals R H E LOB
Giants 1 3 1 4
Astros 4 6 0 4