Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 1967: The Dodgers Finally Score on Jaster

    On April 14, 1967, Larry Jaster surrendered a run to the Dodgers for the first time in more than a year and a half, but still picked up a win as the Cardinals knocked off the Los Angeles club by the score of 8-4 in front of a crowd of 24,757 at Busch. Jaster had tied a 50 year-old record the season before by blanking the Dodgers in five consecutive ballgames. While Jaster's shutout streak came to an end the record has not been matched since.

     The first man to shutout one team five times in one season came in 1905 when Washington Senators hurler Tom Hughes accomplished the feat against the Cleveland Naps, then in 1916, while pitching for the Phillies, Grover Cleveland Alexander blanked the Reds five times. The big difference between Jaster and the other two men is Jaster's five shutouts came consecutively, and he was facing a club that had taken the National League flag in four of the last eight seasons. Jaster had their number though, and time after time he shut them out.

     Then came that third game of the '67 season. The Cardinals were off to a hot start with two quick wins, and with the Dodger killer on the bump the third was well on the way. He was given a comfortable lead early to the delight of the home crowd, as they scored their eight runs through the first five. Orlando Cepeda and Roger Maris led the charge. Maris went 3 for 4 on the day, scored three runs, and legged out a first inning RBI triple that got things going, while Cepeda knocked in three runs with two doubles. 
     Meanwhile, Jaster was sailing through the Dodgers lineup much like he did in 1966. However, the shutout streak came to an end in the seventh when Jeff Toborg dropped a sacrifice fly into right that brought Jim Lefebvre into score from third. Relieved that the scoreless streak was over Jaster went back to work, and worked his way into the ninth before being lifted for Dick Hughes in what proved to be a three run inning for the Dodgers. Before the seventh inning Dodgers run the 23-year-old Jaster had went 52 and two-thirds of an inning without allowing a Dodger runner  to cross the dish. The Dodgers players had been so perplexed by how he had shut them down that they were just happy to be talking about scoring against him, which overshadowed their defeat. The '67 season was off to a fine start. The club would rattle off six consecutive wins. At season's end the Cardinals had won 101 games, and were headed toward a title. Jaster was the deciding pitcher in nine of those contests.

     The young pitcher shuffled in and out of the rotation until June of that season when Bob Gibson went down with an injury. He helped plug the hole down the stretch until the Cardinals ace returned before being sent to the bullpen. He appeared in just one game during the World Series, however, his contributions to the club would not be forgotten. Especially the phenomenal stretch of baseball dominance against the Dodgers. 

If you would like to read more about the life and career of Larry Jaster you can read his SABR bio here:http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/5de1bd44

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