This Day in Baseball History: July 15th, 1988

Maybe SI should have come out with this a few years before.

On July 15, 1988:

Roger Clemens makes the Kansas City Royals miserable … again.

Roger Clemens was in the midst of the finest 7-year stretch of his career. From 1986-1992, he went 136-63 and never won fewer than 17 games. His ERA only eclipsed 3 once during the stretch, and that was in 1989 with an ERA of 3.13. Otherwise, he sat in the mid to upper 2’s with 1990 perhaps his best season with a 1.93 ERA. Clemens led the league in ERA 4 times, wins twice, complete games twice, and strikeouts twice. As for his awards, he won 3 Cy Youngs and his only MVP Award. He was an awesome pitcher, and the Royals just had a really, really hard time with him in 1988.

On May 9th, Mark Gubicza made a valiant attempt to take down the mighty 25-year old, but his 8.1 innings of 2-run ball was much too little. Clemens would only surrender 3 hits and a walk on the day on his way to a complete-game shutout. In addition, Clemens struck out 16 Royals. Every batter struck out at least once, and only 3 (Willie Wilson, George Brett, and Danny Tartabull) struck out only once. Steve Balboni had a really tough day, striking out 3 times in 3 at-bats. The Royals made it interesting in the 9th by getting 2 runners on, but 2 more strikeouts and a deep fly later, the Royals lost to the Red Sox 2-0.

Independence Day was a bit better for the Royals, but it all came to the same result. Ted Power tried his hand against Clemens, but he wasn’t worthy to spit-shine Clemens’ shoes. 2 innings and 5 runs into his start, Power had lost all his energy and was removed from the game. Clemens was strong again, but he wasn’t invincible. He surrendered 2 runs on 9 hits, and he only struck out half as many Royals. Clemens, however, did make Willie Wilson pay for only striking out once in the first game by K’ing him 3 times. George Brett seemingly was the only one to figure out Clemens, garnering 2 hits and RBI’s without striking out once.

Almost two weeks later, the Royals were convinced that they had massacred a bunch of innocent children in a past life as they had to face Clemens again. On July 15th, Brett Saberhagen made a valiant effort, but he would come out the loser after his 6-inning 3-run performance. Clemens was lethal again. He would give up one run (not earned), but he struck out 16 more Royals, the second time that season. 3 Royals struck out 3 times (Wilson, Kurt Stillwell, and Bo Jackson), but Brett, for the second time, and Bill Buckner escaped without being struck out. It didn’t matter as Clemens had won his 3rd dominating game against the hapless Royals.

Just to recap, this was Clemens line against the Royals in 1988:

3-0, 0.69 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 26 IP, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 40 K (13.85 K/9), 2 BB (0.69 BB/9), 20.1 K/BB, 19 H

Trivia Time
Whose card was sold for $1.1 million on this date?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Dave Duncan. Well done, Ron.

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2 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: July 15th, 1988”

  1. Bill Says:

    Wagner, right?

    It's amazing that Clemens didn't win the Cy Young in 1990. I forgot how much better his season was than Bob Welch's. That's just not even close. And I love how Welch beat him for the CY but finished 9th to his 3rd for MVP. Clemens probably should've won both–he was pretty much the whole Red Sox team that year.

    I think Roger probably deserved 7 CYs, but not the 7 he got. I'd give him 1990 and 2005 and take away 2001 (Freddy Garcia) and 2004(Randy Johnson's 6th).

  2. Bill Says:

    I take that back–Rickey totally deserved Rickey's MVP. But Clemens should've won the CY, and it's hard to argue that Welch was even second-best.

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