Matthew Taylor: Crafty lefty could also whiff opposing hitters

David Price established a Tampa Bay franchise record on Sunday with 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work at Toronto. Price set the mark in his fourth big league season and exceeded by two his previous career high of 12 strikeouts.

By his fourth season, former Orioles lefty Mike Flanagan had established what would be his own career-high strikeout total by having twice fanned 13 batters in nine innings of work. During this sad time for the Orioles franchise, it's nice to remember Flanny at his finest.

Flanagan's first 13-strikeout performance came Sept. 27, 1977 as part of a 6-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Memorial Stadium. After allowing an RBI double to Tigers DH Rusty Staub in the first inning, Flanagan held Detroit scoreless for the remainder of his complete-game effort. He struck out Lance Parrish, Mickey Stanley and Aurelio Rodriguez in the ninth to finish the game in a tidy 2 hours,26 minutes. Flanagan posted a 15-10 record on the season with a 3.64 ERA in 235 innings pitched.

One year later, Flanagan matched his career-high strikeout total on the strength of a curveball that O's teammate Jim Palmer described afterward as the best he'd ever seen. Flanagan dueled Red Sox starter Luis Tiant for nine innings of that June 30, 1978 contest before giving way to O's reliever Don Stanhouse, who earned the victory in extra innings. Flanagan struck out every one of the division-leading Red Sox's starters at least once. He went on to win 19 games in 1978 and earn his first All Star nod. One year later he won the American League Cy Young Award.

Flanagan's 13-strikeout performances are two shy of the Orioles single-game record of 15 strikeouts, which has been accomplished eight times, most recently by Mike Mussina against the Red Sox on Sept. 24, 2000. Nevertheless, his name is recorded in the O's record book as one of four Baltimore pitchers to win a Cy Young Award and for his role in the 1991 combined no-hitter, one of the Orioles' five total no-hitters.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

blog comments powered by Disqus