In his last appearance of the 1970 season, Steve Carlton survived a beanball battle and avoided becoming the first Cardinals pitcher in 50 years to lose 20 games.
Fifty years ago, on Sept. 26, 1970, Carlton pitched a three-hitter and got the win in a 7-2 Cardinals triumph versus the Expos at Montreal. A left-hander and future Hall of Famer, Carlton finished 10-19 in 1970.
The last Cardinals pitcher with 20 losses in a season was another future Hall of Famer, Jesse Haines, who was 13-20 in 1920.
No Cardinals left-hander has had a 20-loss season.
The most losses by a Cardinals pitcher in one season is 25. Stoney McGlynn was 14-25 for the 1907 Cardinals and Bugs Raymond was 15-25 for the 1908 Cardinals.
Carlton reported late to spring training in 1970 because of a contract dispute and struggled throughout most of the regular season. He was 1-2 in April and 1-4 May. Carlton didn’t have a winning record in any of the first five months of the season and entered September at 7-18.
After winning two of three decisions in September, Carlton went into his last start looking to end on a positive note against the Expos, who had beaten him twice during the season.
He was matched against Expos starter Bill Stoneman, who had angered the Cardinals by throwing at them.
On Aug. 9, Stoneman threw a pitch close to the head of the Cardinals’ Richie Allen. Cardinals pitcher Jerry Reuss retaliated by plunking Stoneman with a pitch on the peak of his batting helmet. Boxscore
A month later, on Sept. 5, Stoneman hit the Cardinals’ Joe Torre with a pitch. Boxscore
Stoneman hit 14 batters with pitches, the most in the major leagues in 1970. Expos manager Gene Mauch claimed the reason Stoneman hit so many was because the batters leaned in toward the plate in anticipation of his breaking pitches, The Sporting News reported.
Law and order
Trouble started early in the late September showdown between Carlton and Stoneman.
In the second inning, Stoneman hit Jose Cruz with a pitch.
Carlton retaliated by brushing back Stoneman with a pitch in the third. “You can’t let a pitcher go after your hitters,” Carlton told The Sporting News. “I’ve got to protect my guys.”
Hoping to defuse the tension, umpires issued an warning to both teams. Mauch stormed onto the field, objecting to the warning, and was ejected.
In the fourth, a defiant Stoneman hit Torre with a pitch and was ejected.
“That guy throws at six or seven guys every game,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst told the Montreal Gazette. “That’s his best pitch.”
Expos catcher John Bateman, miffed about the ejections of Mauch and Stoneman, expressed his frustrations to the umpires in the fifth inning and was tossed, too.
Win some, lose some
The Cardinals broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the eighth. Torre hit a two-run triple against Dan McGinn and Ted Simmons drove in Torre with a single versus Claude Raymond.
In the ninth, Carlton was hit in the rump by a pitch from Mike Wegener. “I don’t understand him hitting me,” Carlton said. “I thought everything was settled by that time.”
Players from both teams swarmed onto the field, but “nobody swung. They just jabbered and looked tough,” the Montreal Gazette reported.
After the Cardinals scored three times in the top of the ninth, the Expos added a run in the bottom half of the inning on a leadoff home run by Gary Sutherland before Carlton retired the next three batters, completing the win. Boxscore
Though he avoided a 20-loss season for the Cardinals, Carlton wasn’t so fortunate three years later with the Phillies. In 1973, Carlton lost six of his last eight decisions and finished with a record of 13-20. The 20th loss came against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Boxscore