Top 50 Sox Seasons #33: Jim Lonborg, 1967

22-9, 3.16/1.138/.228, 273.1 IP, 246 K, 83 BB, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.0 K/BB, 15 CG, 111 ERA+
Postseason: 2-1, 2.62/0.667/.163, 24 IP, 11 K, 2 BB, 14 H, 7 ER, 2 CG

Cy Young, TSN Pitcher of Year, All-Star, MVP – 6

Jim Lonborg’s out-of-nowhere 1967 season is statistically decent – his league-leading win and strikeout totals in no small part attributable to his hefty number of games started and innings pitched – but the context in which it occurred is priceless. Without Lonborg’s season in ’67, the Red Sox don’t enter the pennant race. And without the ’67 pennant race, the Red Sox likely would have left Boston.

More importantly, when the Sox were in the pennant race, Lonborg stepped it up – a 2.31 ERA in 10 games from Aug. 25, during which he averaged better than 7.1 innings per appearance and threw eight quality starts. During the World Series, he was simply dominant, throwing the fourth one-hitter in Series history and accounting for two of the Sox’ three wins by setting a Series record, still unbroken, for fewest hits in consecutive starts (four). He came up far short only when asked to make his 42nd start of the season on two days’ rest in Game 7.

Key games: Any of the Lonborg’s three career-defining starts – Oct. 1, Oct. 5, Oct. 9. First, Lonborg allows just one earned run in a complete-game victory on the season’s final game, clinching the Red Sox’ first pennant in 21 years. Then, with two outs in the eighth of World Series Game 2, Julian Javier ruins Lonborg’s no-hit bid with a double down the left-field line. A seventh-inning walk to Curt Flood is the only other baserunner marring the performance. On three days’ rest, Lonborg returns with the Sox against the wall, down three games to one, and three-hits the Cards, the only run coming on a ninth-inning Roger Maris homer.

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