Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton appeared together in a regular-season game as Cardinals just three times. Two of those games represented milestones for Carlton: his big-league debut and his first major-league save.
Gibson and Carlton, both elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, played in a combined 718 regular-season games for St. Louis. In the three in which they pitched together, Gibson started and Carlton relieved. The Cardinals won just one of those.
Fit to be tied
The first time Gibson and Carlton appeared together in a Cardinals regular-season game was April 12, 1965, the season opener for the defending World Series champions against the Cubs at Chicago.
Gibson started and was lifted after yielding five runs in 3.1 innings.
In the 11th, with the score tied at 10-10, the Cubs had Ron Santo on second with one out. George Altman, a lefthanded-hitting slugger and former Cardinal, was up next.
Red Schoendienst, in his regular-season debut as Cardinals manager, lifted Barney Schultz, a right-hander, and brought in Carlton, a left-hander, to face Altman.
Carlton, 20, making his big-league debut, walked Altman.
Schoendienst then brought in Bob Purkey, who got out of the jam without allowing a run.
At that point, the game was called because of darkness, ending in a tie. All the statistics counted. Boxscore
Four months later, on Aug. 25, 1965, Gibson started against the Cubs at St. Louis. He gave up six runs in seven innings.
With the Cubs ahead, 6-1, Carlton relieved and pitched two scoreless innings. The Cubs won, 6-3.
Joey Amalfitano, a career .244 hitter, had a single off Gibson and a single off Carlton, becoming the first batter to get hits off both Cardinals in the same regular-season game. Boxscore
Carlton a closer
Entering the 1967 season, Schoendienst told The Sporting News, “We now have men like Dick Hughes, Steve Carlton and Nelson Briles, who can start or relieve. In fact, I’d say only Bob Gibson and Ray Washburn would have to be regarded strictly as starters.”
On April 16, 1967, Gibson started against the Astros at St. Louis against former teammate Mike Cuellar. Lou Brock hit a pair of solo home runs off Cuellar and the Cardinals built leads of 5-0 and 7-3. Gibson, though, wasn’t sharp.
“Gibson admitted he did not have anything today and that he was struggling throughout,” wrote Tom McNamara of the Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer.
The Astros, paced by John Bateman’s two-run home run, scored four in the sixth off Gibson, tying the score at 7-7. The Cardinals regained the lead, 8-7, in the bottom half of the inning on an Orlando Cepeda home run off Carroll Sembera.
After Jim Landis led off the seventh with a double against Gibson, Schoendienst removed his ace and replaced him with Carlton, making his first appearance of the season.
Carlton retired Joe Morgan on a fly out and struck out Jimmy Wynn and Eddie Mathews, stranding Landis. Like Carlton, Morgan and Mathews were destined for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Cardinals scored three off Turk Farrell in the bottom of the seventh, extending their lead to 11-7.
In the eighth, Carlton struck out the first two batters, Bob Aspromonte and Aaron Pointer, giving him four consecutive strikeouts, before getting Bateman to ground out.
The Astros scored a run in the ninth off Carlton. The key hit in the inning was a Landis double.
Landis, a career .247 hitter, joined Amalfitano as the only batters to get hits off Gibson and Carlton in the same regular-season game.
Carlton earned the save for Gibson in an 11-8 Cardinals victory. Carlton’s line: 3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts. Boxscore
Carlton would earn 329 big-league wins but only two saves. His second came 20 years after his first.
On April 9, 1987, in his first regular-season appearance for the Indians, Carlton, 42, got the save with four shutout innings in relief of Phil Niekro, 48, in a 14-3 Cleveland victory over the Blue Jays at Toronto. Boxscore
Previously: How Chase Riddle got Steve Carlton for Cardinals