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Yankees History: Mel Stottlemyre’s busy day

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In his rookie season, Stottlemyre had quite the day in both facets of the game on September 26, 1964.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris /MLB Photos via Getty Images

As a collective this season, pitchers are hitting .104/.140/.135 through the beginning of play on Friday. Offense is down in general this year, and between half of the pitchers not needing to hit most days and specialization in general, it’s not a surprise that pitchers are that bad at hitting (particularly after not having to step in a batter’s box at all in 2020).

Due to these facts and a variety of other reasons, it’s highly unlikely that any Yankee pitcher will replicate Mel Stottlemyre’s outing on September 26, 1964.

Stottlemyre earned an August promotion from Triple-A Richmond that season and made an immediate impression in his MLB debut. His first four starts were all at least eight innings, topping out at just three runs allowed. However, the most impressive start of his rookie season came the following month in a D.C. game against the Washington Senators.

After retiring the leadoff man in the bottom of the first, Stottlemyre’s future Yankees coaching compatriot Don Zimmer singled. However, the rookie then induced a double play in the next-at bat to end that threat.

In the top of the second, Stottlemyre came to the plate himself. With two runners on and the Yankees already up 2-0, the pitcher helped himself out, singling to score both runners. He ended up scoring a couple batters later, as the Yankees ended the inning up 6-0. Both of those events would portend what lay ahead in this game.

In the bottom of the second, Stottlemyre worked around a two-out double before being due up in the third after the Yankees had batted around in the previous frame. He recorded another single, matching the number of hits that he amount he had allowed on the mound. That ratio would only go further in his favor.

Over the remaining seven innings, Stottlemyre walked five more hitters. In all but two of them, he managed to erase the walk by inducing a double play. As for hits, that second-inning double was it. He finished by throwing a complete-game shutout, allowing just two hits. That wasn’t the extent of his action in the game, however.

Stottlemyre would come to the plate five times in the game. He picked up a hit in all five of them. Besides the two aforementioned singles, he reached safely on a bunt in the sixth, singled in the seventh, and capped things off with a double in the ninth. Between the five hits, two RBI, and one run scored, Stottlemyre on his own outhit the opposing team he faced on the mound.

Five hits is tied for the most by any pitcher in a single game. Other Yankees to have done it are Hank Johnson on August 1, 1928 and Johnny Murphy on August 28, 1936. In both cases, they each allowed more hits that they recorded, meaning Stottlemyre stands alone on this hill. In fact, every other pitcher who safely hit five times in a game allowed at least seven themselves. So, we can argue that Stottlemyre played arguably one of the best games in baseball history if you combine both facets of the game.

Stottlemyre hit better than pitchers in general that season, basically on the strength of that game alone. His five hits accounted for over half he recorded in his 14 games that season. Without that game, he would’ve hit .156/.229/.156, an OPS lower than what pitchers put up in 1964.

Yankees pitchers don’t even get a chance to hit outside of a couple games every season. It’s hard to imagine one of them going 5-for-5 ever again.

Sources

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WS2/WS2196409260.shtml

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=b&lg=AL&year=1964

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