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Mel Stottlemyre and the weirdest Yankees shutout ever

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Somehow the Washington Senators did not score on May 21, 1970.

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Washington Senators put three runners on in the first inning during a game against the Yankees on May 21, 1970. Lee Maye singled with one out, but was thrown out trying to advance to second during the next at-bat. Yankees starter Mel Stottlemyre then allowed another single and walked two more guys. He then got a groundout to end the inning.

Those two stranded baserunners were just the beginning of the most bizarre Yankees shutout ever. After the shaky first inning, Stottlemyre threw 1-2-3 innings in both the second and third. Those would be the last time that would happen all day.

In the fourth, the Senators picked up two singles and a walk. One instance of some major Yankees’ luck happened when on one of the singles, the ball struck Senators second baseman Bernie Allen as he tried to advance. The second single immediately followed that. Had Allen avoided the ball and been on second, that very well might have scored a run. Ultimately he was not and the inning ended with the game still scoreless.

With one out in the fifth, Ed Stroud reached on a walk, but was then thrown out trying to steal second. The next three Senators all reached, with Stottlemyre even throwing a wild pitch. Once again, if the runner had been on, he would have scored. Instead, Stottlemyre struck out Mike Epstein to end the inning.

Heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees put two runners on via walks, but had not picked up a hit. Roy White led off with his second walk of the game. Danny Carter then followed that with a home run. Despite all that had happened in the game so far, the Yankees somehow got on the board first.

In the sixth and seventh, Stottlemyre walked one hitter each in otherwise uneventful innings. In the eighth, Epstein worked a walk. Then, each of the next two at bats ended with force outs at second. Getting the lead runner would again be pretty big as Stottlemyre threw a wild pitch later in the inning. For the sixth time in the game, the Yankees stranded runners on the bases when Stottlemyre struck out Rick Reichardt.

Still down just two, the Senators had one last chance in the ninth inning. Stottlemyre was still in the game for the Yankees and got the leadoff hitter to fly out. The Senators, however, then loaded the bases on a single and two walks. After escaping every jam before, Stottlemyre wouldn’t get another chance to do so. Ralph Houk decided to bring in Steve Hamilton. The reliever promptly struck out the two hitters he faced to end the game.

The final stats of the game make for some weird reading. The Senators finished with six hits and 11 walks, yet no runs. Stottlemyre threw two wild pitches, and there was also a passed ball mixed in there at some point. Washington left 14 runners on base and went 0-6 with runners in scoring position.

Those two runs were somehow all the Yankees needed. They finished the game with just three total hits and four walks. After the fifth inning, they put just two more runners on base in the whole game. The Senators had more than twice as many baserunners as the Yankees.

Stottlemyre finished the game with the most walks ever for someone who didn’t allow any runs. Funnily enough, he’s tied at 11 with another Yankee, Lefty Gomez. In total in 1970, Stottlemyre walked just 84 batters, meaning over 12.5% of them came in this game alone.

Walking that many batters without allowing a run isn’t some record that will never be broken. AJ Burnett walked nine with no runs as a member of the Marlins in 2001. It’s not impossible, but lets hope no Yankees pitcher gets near to breaking it soon, because it doesn’t sound very fun.

Sources

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA197005210.shtml

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/stottme01.shtml