Mike Maroth pitched 6 strong shutout innings, and the pen came in and kept the door closed, as the Tigers won their 38th game of the season, and avoided, for now, losing their franchise worst 109th game.
A lot has been made about Brian Kingman, the last player to lose 20 in a season. As Maroth’s start came up, I thought about how long it’s been since someone lost 21, and I had to go back to 1974. Three players lost 22 in the National League that season, but one player lost 21 in the American League. That player was Tiger great Mickey Lolich.
Arguably a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher, Mickey Lolich is best known for his three wins in the 1968 World Series. Mickey won 217, lost 191, had nearly 3,000 strikeouts, and had some pretty impressive seasons. 1971 (the year I was born) and 1972 standout. He won 25 and 22 games, lost 14 in each, and pitched a mind boggling (at least if you’re used to current day pitchers) 376 and 327 2/3 innings. In those two years, he also had ERA+ of 124 and 126, which were his two best full seasons.
But just two years, and near the end of his career, things just didn’t work out. Mickey went 16 and 21 with an ERA+ of 92. He still pitched 308 innings, but he gave up 38 homeruns, and 142 earned runs, both of which led the league.
So, even if Maroth were to lose another game, or even two, he’d be in good company.