New York's Thor Provides All The Thunder In Shutout Not Seen Since 1983
Both Feats Come Against The Reds, 35 Years Apart
Noah Syndergaard was certainly impressive in his shutout against Cincinnati last week, but it was his offense that made the headlines the next day. Thor hit a home run to account for the only run of the game, thus becoming the first pitcher to accomplish that feat in 36 years.
His home run came in the third inning against Reds starter Tyler Mahle, whose only blemish was that shot he allowed to the opposing pitcher. That blast recalled a long forgotten feat from 1983, when Bob Welch hit a home run to account for the game's only score.
Just like in the case of Syndergaard, Welch's homer also came against the Reds. Too, as Syndergaard hit his in front of the home crowd in New York, Welch went deep in his own ballpark of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
It was in the sixth inning of a Friday night game on June 17, when the Dodgers managed only five hits off of Cincinnati ace Mario Soto. Welch himself had two of those hits, having singled in an earlier at bat. Third baseman Pedro Guerrero, who just two years before had been selected as the World Series Most Valuable Player, had a pair of hits as well.
Soto was sharper overall than Welch, who had allowed baserunners in each of the first three frames. The Los Angeles starter really ran into trouble in the fifth, the inning before his improbable home run.
On the strength of two singles and a base on balls, the Reds loaded the bases. Welch got catcher Alex Trevino to pop out to escape any damage, and he promptly returned to the mound to get the Reds in order.
In the sixth, however, the Reds again had Welch's back to the wall and threatened to break the scoreless tie. Second baseman Ron Oester singled and right fielder Paul Householder drew a walk, but Welch managed to keep either runner from crossing the plate.
When he led off the bottom half of the sixth, Welch hit a Soto pitch to make it 1-0. His teammates, as they had done for most of that game, went out in order.
Once he had put himself in the lead, Welch did not look back. In the final three innings he gave up only one hit, raising his win total to five and lowering his earned run average to 2.80.
That victory put the Dodgers four and a half games up on second place Houston in the National League West, so things seemed rosy in the city of the Rose Bowl. It took a very sharp turn right after that June 17 win, for Los Angeles dropped five of the next six games.
Their struggle continued throughout that month and most of July, as panic very soon set in. On August first the Dodgers found themselves not only out of first, but a whopping six and a half games behind the Astros.
A mid August stretch, where Los Angeles won eleven out of twelve, put them back on top. They held on that spot for the rest of the season, after which they played Philadelphia in a battle for the pennant.
The ninety win Phillies, who had captured their first World Series just a few years before, proved too talented for the 86 win Dodgers. Philadelphia beat Los Angeles three games to one, going on to fall to the Baltimore Orioles in the Fall Classic.
Perhaps Syndergaard and the Mets can aspire for a shot at the World Series, thanks in small part to that 1-0 shutout in which he homered. For Mets fans, however, they must hope to avoid the losing streak that plagued the Dodgers immediately after Welch achieved the same rare feat.