Will Severino ride to the rescue like Stott?Posted: August 8, 2015
On the morning of Wednesday, August 12, 1964, the Yankees were languishing in third place, trailing the Orioles by 3 1/2 games and the White Sox by 2 1/2. The Yankees were in the last days of a great dynasty, having won 13 American League pennants and nine World Series in the previous 15 years.
That day a tall, slender right-hand pitcher named Mel Stottlemyre was called up to make his major league debut. Aided by a tape measure home run by Mickey Mantle, Stott pitched a complete-game, seven-hitter and beat the ChiSox, 7-3, for his first big league win. He even singled in his first at bat. .
That was 51 years ago, but the Yankees made arguably their most important pitching call-up since then when they brought up highly touted Luis Serevino, pictured below, in early August. Although Severino didn’t fare quite as well as Stottlemyre in his debut, he did pitch well, striking out seven batters, walking none, and allowing only two hits and one unearned run in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox.
The Yankees have had plenty of starting pitching prospects since then. But outside of a few notable exceptions, like Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte, few have lived up to expectations. Home-grown talent like Jim Beattie, Scott Kamieniecki, Sam Militello and later Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, have struggled in the Bronx. And then there was the sad tale of Brien Taylor, the top overall pick in the 1991 draft, who injured his shoulder in a bar fight and never pitched in the majors.
Stott down the stretch
Back to 1964. Stottlemyre went 9-3 down the stretch that year and was a major force as the Yankees advanced to the World Series against the Cardinals. He beat the Orioles, 3-1, just three days after his debut.And on August 22, in his third start, he righted the ship and stopped a six-game losing streak with an 8-0 shutout win over the Red Sox. The Yankees won 30 of their last 41 games to take the flag.
Stottlemyre won six more games in 1964, highlighted by a 7-0 shutout of the Washington Senators on September 26 in which he allowed just two hits. But the kicker was at the plate, where Stott went 5-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs.
In the World Series that October, the Yankees became heavily dependent on Stottlemyre after Whitey Ford was injured in the opener. Mel beat Bob Gibson in Game Two, a complete game 8-3 victory. Despite pitching seven strong innings in Game Five, he came away with a no decision. Finally, pitching on just two days rest, he lost to Gibson and the Cardinals 7-5 in Game Seven.
Stottlemyre would pitch 10 more years in the Bronx and never saw the playoffs after 1964. Severino’s fate is still TBD.
Related blog: Mel Stottlemyre’s inside-the-park grand slam.