Doug Drabek became the second Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to win the National League Cy Young award in 1990. His best game that season came against the Philadelphia Phillies on the road on August 3rd.
The Pirates had a 61-40 record going into play on August 3rd, while the Phillies stood at 50-51. Drabek had a 13-4 record coming into the day, while his mound opponent, lefty Bruce Ruffin, was 6-10 at the time. This was a Friday night game in front of 36,057 fans.
The Pirates opened up the scoring early with walks from Gary Redus and Andy Van Slyke, followed by a two-run triple by Jeff King. Barry Bonds was up next and his grounder resulted in King getting thrown out at the plate for the second out. However, Don Slaught and Sid Bream followed Bonds with singles, the latter making it a 3-0 game.
In the second inning, Doug Drabek started things with a walk. He was then forced out on a fielder’s choice, but a single by Jay Bell, followed by a Van Slyke single, gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead. A wild pitch would allow Bell to score the fifth run.
The Pirates weren’t done with their early scoring. Don Slaught led off the third with a double, then scored one batter later on a two-run homer from Sid Bream. Later in the inning, Van Slyke doubled to bring home Jose Lind with Pittsburgh’s eighth run. The Phillies were already on their third pitcher at that point. They would end up using three more by the end of the night.
An eight-run lead in 1990 with Drabek on the mound would have been enough to win every night, but the Pirates added to the lead in the fourth on an RBI double from Lind, followed by a two-run homer from Van Slyke in the fifth. If an 8-0 lead in the third was safe, you can imagine how an 11-0 lead in the fifth must have felt.
The Pirates were done scoring for the night at that point, though they had runners in scoring position in both the sixth and eighth innings, so it could have been worse for the Phillies. The highlight for Philadelphia and their fans was that the game only took two hours and 39 minutes to play. That’s because Drabek was dealing from the start.
Drabek retired the first 14 batters of the game in order. That streak was broken by a fifth inning walk to John Kruk. He quickly settled down and retired the next 12 batters in a row. Drabek took a no-hitter to the final out. Up stepped Sil Campusano, who was on the bench to start the game, before replacing lead-off hitter Lenny Dykstra in center field on defense in the seventh inning. It was the first at-bat of the game for Campusano, who was hitting .188 at the time and hadn’t recorded a hit since July 5th. Drabek worked the count to 3-2, then threw a fastball that was lined into right field for a clean base hit. With the no-hitter gone, Drabek got a fly ball to right field to preserve the shutout.
It was a rough ending for Drabek, who said that he second guessed the choice of a fastball on the 3-2 pitch. However, he only got to that point because Jose Lind kept the no-no intact in the eighth inning with an outstanding diving play to retire John Kruk for the second out of the inning. On this same night, Tom Candiotti of the Cleveland Indians had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the eighth inning and he ended up losing that game.
The Pirates were led by four hits from Sid Bream, while Van Slyke, Slaught and Lind each had three hits. Two players in the lineup that day failed to get hits, the Cy Young winner and the 1990 NL MVP, Barry Bonds. Drabek had two walks, while Bonds scored twice and stole his 36th base.
Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.
Here are links to the previous Game Rewind articles:
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.