Chicago Cubs at St. Louis
1966 had been a disappointing season for the Cardinals. Bob Gibson would win 21 games, his second consecutive season with 20 or more. He would also shave more than half a run off of his season ERA. Al Jackson confounded the experts by turning in a losing season in spite of finishing with an ERA that was nearly 2 runs lower than his career average, a respectable 2.51 in 233 2/3 innings pitched. The bullpen was even more impressive with Joe Hoerner and Hal Woodeshick posting a 1.54 and 1.92 ERA respectively. No, the problem with the Cardinals was elsewhere – specifically hitting. Curt Flood would lead the team 78 RBIs, followed by Tim McCarver with 68. Only newcomer Orlando Cepeda would post a batting average over .300. This was a weak hitting club and it was only due to the heroics of the pitching staff that they managed an 83-79 record, 12 games behind the LA Dodgers.
But it could be worse. Their opponent in this game would be the last place Chicago Cubs. Coming into the game, the Cubs had already lost 102 times and were 36 games out of first place. To add insult to injury, the Cardinals had already won the first two games of the series. No matter how disappointing the season, a chance to sweep the rival Cubs brings out the best in the Cardinals.
The Cubs would send former 22 game winner, Dick Ellsworth to the mound to face one of the top Cardinal prospects in his major league debut, Jim Cosman. Ellsworth was a tall lefty and took the ball every five days for the Cubs. With a team losing 102 games, that meant that his record would not be stellar, and it wasn’t as he took the mount with an 8-21 record. Cosman, a tall hard throwing right hander had been a top prospect in the Cardinals farm system. In 17 starts in Class A, he would post a 12-1 record with a microscopic ERA of 1.19. 121 innings pitched and 143 strikeouts. He was quickly promoted and had a hard time in the upper leagues as players at that level can hit the fastball. While in Tulsa, he was moved to the bullpen and posted a 5-4 record in with a 2.55 ERA in 1965, and 10-2 with a rather elevated 4.65 ERA in 1966. Barring injury, Cosman was expected to be part of the 1967 rotation. On this final game of the season, Red Schoendienst would get a good look at the young hurler.
Both Cosman and Ellsworth got off to a great start. Both hurlers would retire the side in order in the first inning. Ron Santo would lead off the second inning with a sharp single to center. That was all the damage as Cosman would retire next three batters without a ball leaving the infield.
The bottom of the Cardinals order would get to Ellsworth in the the bottom of the third as Dal Maxvill would single. Lou Brock would also get a hit, but the Cardinals failed to score. For now.
Meanwhile, Cosman was cruising. The only runner other than the Santo single was a 2 out walk to Santo in the top of the 4th inning.
The second time through the order proved to be more challenging for Ellsworth. Ted Savage, replacing Curt Flood, would lead off with a walk. Phil Gagliano would follow that up with a grounder up the middle for a single. Savage would then steal third base and score on a Mike Shannon line drive single to left. It was starting to feel like a big inning, but a power failure would hit the Cardinals. Tim McCarver would ground into a force play at second. With the Cubs playing back, Gagliano scores easily on the play. Ed Spezio, father of future Cardinal Scott Spezio, would end the inning with a nice around the horn double play, 5-6-3. The Cardinals had a 2-0 lead, but with a rookie on the mound – would it hold up ?
Cosman did what all pitchers are taught to do, retire the side quickly after getting a lead. He would set down the lower part of the Cubs order in order in the top of the fifth, and again in the sixth. And again in the seventh, helped by double play that erased the leadoff walk to Billy Williams. And it was Ron Santo hitting into the double play. The only Cubs hitter to get a hit off the young right hander so far.
After getting two quick outs in the eighth, a pitch would get away from Cosman and he would hit the 8th place hitter, Adolfo Phillips. Phillips was a career .247 hitter, and while he did have a little pop in his bat, this was nothing more than a tiring young pitcher trying to complete his first start. But remember the name Alfonso Phillips as he will play an important role in the next Where Were You. A harmless grounder to first would end the inning. For the fifth time in eight innings, Cosman retired the side without a ball leaving the infield. Two fly outs and the Ron Santo single were the only balls played by an outfielder.
Cosman takes the mound in the top of the ninth. He’s protecting a slim 2-0 lead and has only allowed one hit. Don Kessinger hits the fourth ball to an outfielder, which is caught by Lou Brock in foul territory. Glenn Beckert rips a line drive to center field for the second Cubs hit on the day. With the game on the line, Cosman faces a serious home run threat in future Hall of Famer, Billy Williams. Cosman gets Williams to hit into a game ending double play to preserve the shutout.
What a start to his major league career. A 2 hit shutout against the rival Cubs.
Cosman would pitch well to start the 1967 season, initially in the bullpen, but end up back in AAA. After another freak injury to Ray Washburn, Cosman would be called up to take Washburn’s spot in the rotation. On June 26, he would pitch another gem, for his second career victory. Unfortunately it would be his last. July 26, he would start the first game of a double header and leave after 2 1/3 innings. He would make one more major league appearance, an inning of relief for the Cubs in 1970.
The major league career of Jim Cosman would be cut short, but those in attendance on October 2, 1966 saw a brilliantly pitched game against a team that we enjoy beating.