Billy Martin Forced Ron Guidry to Start the 1977 Pennant-Deciding Playoff Game

by on January 29th, 2011
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The New York Yankees and Kansas Royals split the first four games of the 1977 playoffs. The fifth and deciding game would be played in Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 9.

Yankees manager Billy Martin was going to start rookie left-hander Ron Guidry against junk ball left-hander Paul Splittorf, who almost always gave the Yankees problems.

Guidry, who barely made the team in the spring, was not ecstatic about getting the start. Facing the media, a troubled and unenthusiastic Guidry expressed his concerns.

He had pitched a complete game victory on Thursday, which meant that the 161-pound Guidry would be starting on two days rest. During the season, Martin gave him four or five days rest. He worked on three days rest only once.

When asked if he could be effective on two days rest, Gudry merely replied “We’ll see tomorrow.”

A reporter asked if Martin had spoken to him about starting on two days rest.

“He asked me yesterday how I felt and I said ‘stiff,’ but that I’d know more the next day.”

When asked if Martin had spoken to him since, Guidry became even more uncomfortable.

He responded in the negative. “I guess he had a lot of things to do.”

Guidry went on to say that he felt stiff, which was normal on the second day after pitching, but that he became loose on the third day. He didn’t respond when asked if Martin were being unfair to him.

Martin had confidence in Guidry. “He’s a wire 160-pounder and he can do it. I don’t say he’s the best man I’ve got, I say he’s my hottest pitcher right now.”

The manager continued, explaining that there would be help if Guidry faltered.

“Mike Torrez will be in the bullpen, and Sparky Lyle again and everybody. But I think Guidry can do it.”

Guidry lasted only two and one-third innings, allowing three runs and six hits. Torrez replaced him and pitched five and one-third innings of scoreless ball. Lyle came into game in the eighth inning, the Yankees rallied with three runs in the ninth inning to give Lyle the win and the Yankees won the pennant.

In late August, 2011, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced that Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver would both start on three days rest against the Texas Rangers, the team that led the Angels by two games. Neither pitcher had ever started on three days rest.

Santana pitched respectably, giving up four runs in seven innings to beat C.J. Wilson, who allowed six runs and 10 hits in five innings. Wilson, it seems, doesn’t enjoy starting important games.

Weaver was bombed. Texas touched him up for seven runs in six innings on their way to a 9-5 win.

Chris Carpenter started and won the seventh game of the 2011 World Series pitching on three days rest. He allowed two runs in the first inning and then shut out the Texas Rangers for the next five innings before he was replaced.

Today, it is an event when a pitcher starts on three days rest, but Sandy Koufax, Jim Kaat, Bob Gibson, Jim Lonborg, Mickey Lolich and Mel Stottlemyre would have been thrilled to have had three days rest.

All started a World Series game on two days rest.

Guidry appears unenthusiastic over starting role. (1977, Oct 09). New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. S4. Retrieved from

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