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On the off chance that people want to rehash this old history (gee, why would that happen?), let's have the facts in place.

People generally remember two bits of information when they reminisce about Wells and Gaston. Everyone knows Wells threw a baseball away when Gaston came out to relieve him; everyone also knows that Gaston allowed Wells to stay in the game and absorb a fearful pounding.

These were actually two different games, played in two different seasons. The opponents were Boston and Milwaukee.

We begin with August 9 1991. Boston at Toronto. After a wonderful start to his season (12-4, 2.73 on July 24), Wells had scuffled in losing his previous two starts, against Chicago and in Boston. On this night at the Dome, the Red Sox went ahead early on Jack Clark's two run homer in the first, and added another on an RBI single by Luis Rivera in the second. It was still 3-0 Boston going into the fifth. Wells issued a leadoff walk to Wade Boggs and a single to Jody Reed. Carlos Quintana then grounded into a double play, and Wells was almost off the hook. Alas, a wild pitch allowed Boggs to score from third, making the score 4-0. Wells then walked Jack Clark, bringing Mike Greenwell to the plate...

At this point in their head-to-head history, Greenwell was 3-18 (.167) lifetime against Wells, with a BB, a HBP, and a 3b.

Wells said in his book that Gaston was demanding that he throw Greenwell a changeup. Wells says he didn't want to throw that pitch to Greenwell, but he did as his manager ordered. Greenwell hit a single, Gaston came out with the hook, and rather than hand the ball to the manager, Wells fired it down the left-field line. His story has always been that he was upset about being told how to pitch to a hitter he knew how to get out.

Wells ended up taking the loss on this night, and he lost his next two starts as well. He rallied with an outstanding CG performance in Yankee Stadium for his 13th win, but followed it up with two more mediocre efforts. In mid-September, he was moved to the bullpen where he remained for the rest of the season.

In 1992, Wells started the year in the rotation - however, it was widely understood that he was keeping Dave Stieb's spot warm until the long-time ace returned to the lineup. Wells pitched well in two April starts, but moved to the bullpen when Stieb was activated in mid April. He worked out of the bullpen, and quite effectively, until late June. At this point, an injury to Todd Stottlemyre put Wells back into the rotation. He made his third start of the season on June 24. (Stieb was still in the rotation at this point, but his ineffectiveness would see him sent to the pen in early July. Pat Hentgen would briefly fill in for Stieb, making two starts, until Stottlemyre returned.)

By the end of July, then, the rotation was Morris, Key, Guzman, Stottlemyre, and Wells. But Guzman was hurting - he missed his start on July 29 (Stieb filled in and pitched well, but his elbow was starting to become a problem). Guzman made one more start (August 3) and then went on the DL. He wouldn't pitch again until the end of the month. Dave Stieb, fresh off a cortisone shot, went back to the rotation. He started once against Detroit, and then he went down for the season. Pat Hentgen, with a 9.24 ERA since the All-Star Break and having arm problems as well, was back in Syracuse. Doug Linton came up and joined the rotation. He made his second start on August 19 and lasted just three innings. Mike Timlin, Bob MacDonald, and Mark Eichhorn went the rest of the way. The other two men in the bullpen were a couple of guys named Ward and Henke.

Yes, children, there really was a time when teams carried 10 man pitching staffs. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, this staff was a shambles.

And so - Wells started against Milwaukee on August 20, 1992. His mission, above all else, was to go deep into the game. After Linton's poor effort the day before, the only relievers Gaston wanted to use were his short men, Ward and Henke. But after three innings, Wells was losing 5-1. The Brewers added on three more runs in the fourth inning. With the Jays now trailing 8-2, Wells came out to pitch the fifth inning. He allowed a home run to Jaha and a double to Seitzer before getting Surhoff to ground out. He then hit Fletcher with a pitch, walked Listach, and gave up a two-run double to Hamilton. With the score now 11-2, Gaston finally made the call to the pen, and brought in Bob MacDonald. Before the game was over, Mark Eichhorn, Duane Ward, and Tom Henke would all end up having to appear in the Brewers 16-3 win. The next day David Weathers came up from Syracuse to give the staff a sixth arm in the bullpen. (Randy Knorr was sent down to clear room for Weathers, making Ed Sprague the backup catcher.)

Amd for those of you have forgotten, August 1992 was the month when Jack Morris earned every last penny the Blue Jays paid him. He kept the ship afloat more or less single-handed until the end of August when Guzman returned from the DL and Cone arrived from the Mets.

Boomer and Cito | 6 comments | Create New Account
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Mike D - Tuesday, August 22 2006 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#153781) #

Great stuff, Mags, and important perspective for those who wish to draw historical parallels.

I have two quibbles -- one minor, and one a bit more substantive.  First, the 11-Run Game was not at the Dome; I remember having an early dinner at home that day, and it was a mid-week 2:00 matinee at old County Stadium in Milwaukee.

Second, although you correctly note that these were separate incidents in separate seasons, I recall thinking that these two games were nevertheless somewhat connected, both at the time and in the aftermath of the Brewer blowout.  Common speculation, not only after the game but during it, was that Cito had no particular qualms with leaving Wells in to get thrashed, in light of their prickly relationship (which wasn't helped by the Thrown Ball Game).  I also recall Wells conveying the sense that his prolonged beating -- even though he needed to go deep to save the 'pen -- was unfair and related to issues he had with Gaston.  Magpie, do you remember it differently?

As an aside, I was thinking about what Da Box would be like if it were around in the summer of '92 when the Jays were suffering the volume of pitching injuries you itemized in your article.

"They're done!  Sell, sell, sell!  Do we want to have another Tom Candiotti situation, where we lose veteran players for nothing?  Trade Key, Winfield and Henke for Kevin Maas and Hensley Meulens!"

Magpie - Tuesday, August 22 2006 @ 10:17 AM EDT (#153784) #
Yes, it was in Milwaukee. It was my memory telling me Wells was in home whites that afternoon...

I do remember everybody said all the right things afterwards, although after the 1991 game everyone naturally wondered if they were just presenting a united front. Still, in his book, Wells still seems much more irritated at Gaston for the Boston game.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, August 22 2006 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#153799) #

"They're done!  Sell, sell, sell!  Do we want to have another Tom Candiotti situation, where we lose veteran players for nothing?  Trade Key, Winfield and Henke for Kevin Maas and Hensley Meulens!"

That's silly. Why would the Yankees help out a divisional rival with a salary dump? The Jays are rolling in dough, anyway -- besides, the Yanks already have $3M+ rolled up in an ex-Jay with Barfield.

Key would never make it in New York, anyway. And Maas and Meulens are the new M&M boys in Da Bronx! I suppose next you'll be suggesting that President Bush's war in the Middle East will cost him the presidency. Hah!


Mike D - Tuesday, August 22 2006 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#153805) #

That may well be true, Mick, and the other "M" in the Bronx -- Sam Militello -- is gonna be sick once he harnesses his fastball.

The one thing I'm sure of:  Years from now, we'll be looking back on Color Me Badd as one of the great bands of all time.

Parker - Tuesday, August 22 2006 @ 09:24 PM EDT (#153857) #
My sarcasm detector just exploded.
Boomer and Cito | 6 comments | Create New Account
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