Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Rookie pitchers who posted double-digit strikeout games in Baltimore

During his electrifying debut in Washington on Tuesday Stephen Strasburg notched 14 strikeouts, the third-highest total for a rookie pitching in his first big league game.

You won't find eye-popping numbers like that in the Orioles' history books for a rookie's first game. However, multiple O's newbies have posted double-digit strikeout totals in games during their first season in the bigs.

Here are six memorable rookie strikeout efforts in Baltimore.

1. Mike Boddicker, Sept. 21, 1983
Complete game, 12 strikeouts
Orioles 6 - Tigers 0

Boddicker won 16 games and pitched a league-high five shutouts as a rookie for the 1983 World Series Champion Orioles. He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Ron Kittle and Julio Franco. Boddicker was tops in the league for victories (20) and ERA (2.79) in 1984, which placed him fourth in that season's Cy Young voting.

2. Chuck Estrada, Aug. 25, 1960 
Complete game, 12 strikeouts,
Orioles 9 - Tigers 3

Estrada posted a league-high 18 wins in 1960 and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. Baltimore rookies occupied the top three ROY spots: Ron Hansen, Estrada, Jim Gentile.

3. Rocky Coppinger - Sept. 8, 1996 
Seven innings, 11 strikeouts
Orioles 6 - Tigers 2

Tom Boswell is enthused about Strasburg's debut, writing on Wednesday: "From beginning to end, this evening's entertainment was guilty of false advertising. On this perfect night, Strasburg was not introduced to the major leagues, as so many said. Instead, the big leagues were introduced to Strasburg. It was a magnificent mismatch."

Believe it or not, Boswell was pretty high on Coppinger as well. Here's an excerpt from his July 7, 1996, column, headlined with one of many Sylvester Stallone-themed Coppinger cliches that ensued: "Technically speaking, Rocky's a knocout"
Sometimes, the changing of the guard, the succession of the generations, can be captured in one head-snapping fact. After Saturday's doings at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, we will reach the all-star break with this stat to ponder: Roger Clemens has three wins in half a season; Rocky Coppinger has four in a month. It's not time to reach any drastic conclusions. But Rocky has definitely arrived.

Coppinger's first 30 days in the majors have contained enough symbolic events to frazzle most rookies. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Orioles right-hander has started six games, left them all with a lead and has a 4-0 record. His "courage," "heart," "aggressiveness" and "enthusiasm" have, according to various teammates, inspired the entire Baltimore starting rotation to shape up and fly right for the past couple of weeks.
4. Mike Mussina - Aug. 14, 1991
Eight innings, 10 strikeouts
Orioles 10 - Rangers 2

Mussina, 22, earned his first big league win with 10 strikeouts in his third start. Five days later, also against Texas, he had eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

5. Erik Bedard - July 3, 2004
Seven  innings, 10 strikeouts
Phillies 7 - Orioles 6

Bedard's first double-digit strikeout effort wasn't enough to earn the O's the win in Interleague play. The game served as a dose of foreshadowing for future Oriole Kevin Millwood, who pitched for the Phillies that day. Bedard left after the seventh inning with the lead in tact only to watch the bullpen blow it in the eighth by allowing three Phillies runs.

6. Last, but most certainly not least is Tom Phoebus, who posted five double-digit strikeout totals during his rookie campaign in 1967. Three of those efforts came against the Yankees.

Phoebus was voted Sporting News Rookie of the Year after earning 14 wins, seven of which were complete-game efforts. Phoebus tallied 179 strikeouts in 33 games. 

Phoebus started three games in 1966 and became only the fourth American League pitcher to throw shutouts in his first two games. He also tossed the third no-hitter in franchise history on April 27, 1968.

(See The Sun's "Catching Up" with profile of Phoebus.)

May 22, 1967
Complete game, 11 strikeouts
Orioles 7 - Yankees 0

June 29, 1967
Complete game, 11 strikeouts
Orioles 4 - White Sox 1

July 17, 1967
Complete game, 10 strikeouts
Orioles 6 - Yankees 1

July 27, 1967
Seven innings, 10 strikeouts
Tigers 4 - Orioles 0

Aug. 16, 1967
Seven innings, 12 strikeouts
Orioles 5- Yankees 4


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