50 years ago today: Ryne Duren strikes out seven straight Red Sox

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June 9, 1961

Making his first start of the year in the second game of a doubleheader, the California Angels’ Ryne Duren fans seven straight Red Sox to set an American League record in a 5-1 victory.

Duren’s streak started when Frank Malzone whiffed to end the first inning with two men on.  He went on to strike out the side in both the second and third innings before Carl Yastrzemski grounded out to begin the fourth.

The hard-throwing Duren ended his outing with 11 strikeouts.  He gave up one run and walked four in 6 2/3 innings.  Eli Grba took over in the seventh and finished the game from there for a save.

Duren’s rotation stint didn’t last, however.  He walked eight in 2 1/3 innings in a game against the Athletics later in June.  He was sent back to the pen in July after two starts in which he combined to allow eight runs and walk nine in 4 2/3 innings.

Duren was selected to his third and final All-Star Game in 1961 anyway, but he didn’t get to pitch.  He ended the year 6-13 with a 5.19 ERA in 14 starts and 30 relief appearances.  He struck out 115 and walked 79 in 104 innings.

Duren ended up making 32 career starts and going 7-11 with a 4.55 ERA.  A feared reliever in his early years because of his wildness and poor eyesight, he finished with a 3.57 ERA in 279 appearances out of the pen.  In 589 1/3 major league innings, he struck out 630 and walked 393.

Duren’s AL strikeout record was matched a few times during the 1960s before being broken by Nolan Ryan on July 9, 1972.  Ryan struck out eight in a row against the Red Sox then and again just a year later versus the Tigers on July 15, 1973.  The major league record for consecutive strikeouts is 10, set by the Mets’ Tom Seaver on April 22, 1970.  He fanned the last 10 Padres he faced and 19 overall.

Duren passed away earlier this year at age 71.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.