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Lindy McDaniel and the longest relief outing in Yankees history

After an injury, the Yankees needed Lindy McDaniel to give them some innings out of the bullpen. He did that and more.

A starting pitcher leaving a game early due to injury is just something that happens. It's never ideal, but it's something that you occasionally have to deal with. Usually, a long reliever will be brought in to eat in to some of the innings the starter was expected to go. At that point, your hope is that the reliever can keep you in the game and maybe you can survive the loss of the starter. On August 4, 1973, the Yankees' long reliever did a pretty good job of keeping them in the game.

By 1973, Lindy McDaniel was very much a reliever. A good one, but a reliever nonetheless. He had made a start for the Yankees on July 10, 1973, but that was his first since 1967, when he played for the Giants. Early in his career, McDaniel moved back and forth between starting and relieving quite a bit. In his sophomore season of 1956, he made 39 appearances, making seven starts. The next season, in 1957, he made 26 starts. But in 1960, he made just two and was mostly a reliever. Considering that in 1960, he was an All-Star, finished third in Cy Young voting, and was fifth in the MVP race with a 195 ERA+, that seemed to be the right move.

When the Yankees acquired him in 1968, McDaniel was entrenched in the role of multi-inning reliever. His time with the Yankees was up and down. He had a couple average to below-average years with the Yankees, but overall his career in pinstripes was pretty good. He even received MVP votes in 1970.

McDaniel was in the bullpen on August 4, 1973. He had made the aforementioned start on July 10, where he pitched eight innings. He had also had four outings of 6+ innings out of the bullpen already that season. Of his 32 outings that he had made up until that point, only five lasted an inning or less.

Fritz Peterson was the starting pitcher for the Yankees on August 4 as they took on the Billy Martin-led Tigers in Detroit. He allowed one run on two hits and an error in the first inning. And that was it. Seemingly because of an injury, Peterson was taken out after the first. McDaniel was brought in for Peterson to start the second. Considering how he had been used that season, it was expected that McDaniel would give the Yankees multiple innings. On this day, he gave the Yankees many multiple innings.

New York tied the game in the third, but fell behind again in the fifth. Down to their last out in the ninth, Matty Alou tied the game and sent it into extra innings. At that point, McDaniel was still on the mound for the Yankees, and he would remain there.

In the 12th inning, the 11th McDaniel worked, he escaped a bases-loaded jam that kept the game going. Yankees took the lead when Horace Clark led off the 14th inning with a home run. McDaniel then pitched a 1-2-3 inning to finish off a 3-2 win for the Yankees.

McDaniel's final line on that day was 13 innings, allowing one run on six hits and three walks. According to the Baseball-Reference Play Index, McDaniel's outing is the eighth longest relief appearance ever. Of the top ten, it is the only one from after World War II.

McDaniel made two more starts in the 1973 season. He finished the year with 160.1 innings pitched in 44 appearances, only three of which where starts. Yes, bullpens back then were used very differently, but that just seems completely foreign.

McDaniel left the Yankees after 1973 and went to the Royals. He played two more seasons before retiring after 1975. In his two seasons with the Royals, he kept on doing what he did. He pitched a combined 184.2 innings overs those years, making just five starts in the process.

With the way bullpens, and pitchers in general, are used today, I feel pretty confident in saying that we will never see a pitching performance like Lindy McDaniel's ever again.