This Day In Baseball May 6
Debuts, Milestones, No Hitters, Rule Changes, Events, Birthdays, Deaths, and more on This Day In Baseball.
Events for May 6
Roberto Clemente crashes Willie Mays’s birthday party in his second visit to the Polo Grounds, by banging a 430-foot triple over the birthday boy’s head in the midst of a decisive rally in a 3 – 2 Pirate win over the Giants. Jesse Abramson of the New York Herald Tribune reports: “Roberto Clemente tripled so far over Mays’ head that even Willie on his charger, shedding the cap, couldn’t catch it…”
5/6/1961: The Senators were rained out in Cleveland in the bottom of the second inning. In the first frame, the Tribe’s Woodie Held smashed a grand slam over the right field fence off Hal Woodeshick. The blow came with no one out. The Nats scored an unearned run in the second, leaving the score 4-1 at the time of the postponement.
Former All-Star pitcher Bronson Arroyo of the Reds has one of the worst starts of his career as the Brewers rock him for five runs in the 1st inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by J.J. Hardy, and a grand slam off the bat of Ryan Braun which sends him to the showers before he can retire a batter in the 2nd. The Brew Crew adds five runs off infielder Paul Janish in the 9th for a final score of 15 – 3. Manny Parra picks up his first win of the year after four losses.
Robin Roberts dies at age 83 at his home in Temple Terrace, FL. He began his career in 1948 with the Philadelphia Phillies, with whom he had his best seasons. He was named to 7 All-Star teams and went 286-245 in a career that stretched until 1966. He led the National League in wins 4 times, won 20 or more games during 6 consecutive seasons, but also gave up a major league record 505 home runs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.
Scott Olsen of the Washington Nationals, who started the year in the minors after undergoing shoulder surgery the previous July, retires 22 of the first 23 Braves batters he faces, until David Ross breaks up his no-hit bid with a one-out single in the 8th. The Braves then proceed to tie the score at 2-all, but the Nats score a run in the bottom of the 9th on a pinch-hit single by Willie Harris with the bases loaded and none out. Tyler Clippard is credited with the 3 – 2 win.
Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals has a perfect game until the 8th inning before issuing a one-out walk and then settling for a two-hit shutout of the Brewers. Yuniesky Betancourt hits a single on the first pitch following the walk to Casey McGehee to break up the no-hit bid. Albert Pujols drives in three runs in the 6 – 0 win.
The Braves’ Derek Lowe also flirts with a no-hitter in a 5 – 0 win over the Phillies and Cliff Lee, who strikes out a career-high 16 batters in 7 innings in taking the loss. Lowe is bothered by a blister on his foot starting in the 3rd inning, but keeps the Phillies hitless until the 7th, when he allows a lead-off single to Shane Victorino and a double to Placido Polanco. Lowe departs in favor of Eric O’Flaherty, who also has awesome stuff on the night, striking out Ryan Howard, Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez in the span of 15 pitches to preserve the shutout.
Albert Pujols finally hits his first American League homer, breaking the longest homerless drought of his career, when he connects off the Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchison with a runner on in the 5th inning of the Angels’ 4 – 3 win. Pujols was being regularly booed for his lack of offensive production after signing a huge contract to join the Halos as a free agent in the off-season.
The Phillies defeat the Nationals, 9 – 3, as Hunter Pence hits a pair of two-run homers in support of Cole Hamels’ pitching. Washington’s sole highlight comes in the the 1st, when rookie Bryce Harper pulls off a steal of home on a pick-off throw to first; Harper had reached base on a hit-by-pitch which Hamels later admits was a deliberate gesture aimed at the phenom’s cocky attitude after barely a week in the bigs; he will be suspended for five games as a result. In the 6th inning, RF Jayson Werth breaks his wrist in attempting a sliding catch in the outfield and will be out until August, a tough break for the Nats who have managed to stay in first place in spite of the absence of two other key players, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse, who are both injured.
Both teams end up having to use position players on the mound when a game between the Orioles and Red Sox goes deep into extra innings. O’s manager Buck Showalter turns to DH Chris Davis to take the mound in the 16th inning with the score tied at 6 – 6. Davis gives him a pair of scoreless innings, somewhat compensating for a brutal 0-for-8 game at the plate. The Sox face the same quandary in the top of the 17th, and turn to OF Darnell McDonald. Things don’t go so well, however, as he surrenders a three-run homer to Adam Jones; he then grounds into a double play against Davis to end the game in the bottom of the frame. Davis is the winner in the 9 – 6 Baltimore win, and McDonald the loser; it is the first time both teams use position players to pitch in the same game since October 4, 1925, when future Hall of Famers George Sisler and Ty Cobb both got to pitch on the last day of the season.
Motonobu Tanishige becomes the third Nippon Pro Baseball catcher to 2,000 career hits, joining the meikyukai. At age 42, he also becomes the oldest player to reach 2,000 hits, breaking Shinya Miyamoto’s one-year-old mark. Tanishige is the 44th player in NPB history to 2,000 hits but the third so far this season, following Alex Ramirez and Norihiro Nakamura. His hit, off Takehiko Oshimoto, isn’t enough as the Yakult Swallows beat the Chunichi Dragons, 7 – 3, on a pinch-hit grand slam by Shinichi Takeuchi.
The struggling Blue Jays manage a rare comeback win against Tampa Bay. Mark Buehrle is the latest Toronto starter to get beat up, giving up 7 runs in the 3rd, but he hangs on and shuts down the Rays for the next three innings, while three relievers add a scoreless frame each. Colby Rasmus starts the comeback with a two-run homer in the 4th, and J.P. Arencibia, who started the game on the bench, hits another two-run shot off closer Fernando Rodney with two outs on the top of the 9th for an 8 – 7 win.
The Pirates record a walk-off win of an unprecedented type, as they need to wait for the result of a video review to begin celebrating. With two outs and the score tied 1 – 1 in the bottom of the 9th against the Giants at PNC Park, Starling Marte bangs a drive off the right field wall. When 2B Ehire Adrianza’s relay skips through 3B Pablo Sandoval’s legs, Marte races for home, but umpire Quinn Wolcott calls him out. Manager Clint Hurdleimmediately asks for a review, and one minute and 15 seconds later, crew chief Gerry Davis gives the safe sign, validating the run and ending the game.
3B Jung Ho Kang makes a successful return to the majors for the Pirates in his first game since suffering a serious leg injury in September of last year. Kang homers twice, off Tyler Lyons and Kevin Siegrist, to lead Pittsburgh to a 4 – 2 win. Francisco Liriano is the winner over Carlos Martinez, who has to leave early due to fatigue.
The Yankees are on fire as they record their 15th win in their last 16 games, 7 – 4 over the Indians, thanks to a three-run walk-off homer by rookie Gleyber Torres off Dan Otero. Domingo German, making his first major league start in place of an injured Jordan Montgomery, begins things with six hitless innings for New York, before being removed for having reached his pitch count limit.
Commemorating the three-year anniversary of his party-crashing heroics, Roberto Clemente again disrupts Willie Mays’s birthday celebration, if not quite so dramatically. Bob Stevens of the San Francisco Chronicle reports: “Only a spectacular catch by Clemente on a 400-foot blast by Mays in the 6th with the bases loaded and George Witt on the mound prevented San Francisco from making a genuine rout of the thing.” Circus catch notwithstanding, the Bucs’ bats fail to ignite as they suffer a 7 – 0 whitewashing.
As fate would have it, Roberto Clemente’s first visit to the newly-opened Candlestick Park coincides with the 29th birthday of his one-time mentor Willie Mays, and once again Mays’ student steals the spotlight. While all three Willies – i.e. Mays, McCovey and Kirkland – go deep to power San Francisco’s 5 – 1 win over Pittsburgh, it’s Clemente who gets the crowd’s attention with a shot to left center into the teeth of a vicious wind. Arnold Hano, California-based biographer of both Mays and Clemente, witnesses this moment: “Clemente’s bat hit the ball, and the result absolutely clubbed the crowd into awed silence for a long moment. Right into that wet whipping wind the ball carried. Right on through, hit 120 feet high in a long soaring majestic parabola that came down finally over 450 feet away. There is just no way of telling how far Clemente’s home run blast would have traveled had it not been for that wind. Suffice it to say partisan Giant fans suddenly broke their shell-shocked silence and let loose a gigantic roar. For two innings the stadium buzzed. For days the Giants talked about it. Even today if you slip up behind a Giant pitcher and suddenly whisper in his ear: ‘Remember the home run Clemente hit?’ he’s likely to jump as high as if he’d been caught putting spit on baseballs.”
1998 – In perhaps the most dominant pitching performance of all time, Cubs rookie Kerry Wood strikes out 20 Astros en route to a 2-0 shutout. Ricky Gutierrez’ third-inning single is the lone Houston hit. Wood walks none and hits one batter. Derek Bell is the final victim as Wood sets a National League single-game strikeout mark, tying Roger Clemens for the major league record.
1984 – Astros club 19-year-old phenom Dwight Gooden with eight runs in the third on their way to a 10-1 drubbing of the Mets. Nolan Ryan, almost twice Gooden’s age, scatters six hits for the victory. Ryan contributes a bunt hit over Gooden’s head in the rally while Mark Bailey drives home the first and last runs of the frame.