GLENN BRAGGS – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 12



OCTOBER 11, 1990 – National League Championship Series Game 6

In post season play, the Pirates and the Reds have forged an underrated rivalry. In 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979 and 1990, they locked horns in the NLCS. In 2013, they played the Wild Card Game against each other.

There were many dramatic games and extra inning collisions and match up of MVPs, from Rose and Clemente to Morgan and Stargell to Larkin and Bonds to Votto and McCutchen.

Perhaps the potentially most dramatic and iconic moment in this rivalry ALMOST happened in 1990. But it was foiled by a Cincinnati outfielder named Glenn Braggs, a player who did not begin the season with the Reds and started that game on the bench.

After both the Reds and Pirates missed the post season entirely during the 1980’s, they met up again in 1990. Both squads were star studded with All Stars (Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo) and former Yankee prospects turned aces (Doug Drabek and Jose Rijo.)

They each had old school tough as nails managers (Jim Leyland for Pittsburgh and Lou Piniella for Cincinnati.) But the Reds had the edge in the bullpen. The “Nasty Boys” of Rob Dibble, Randy Myers and Norm Charlton were all but unhittable. They forced teams to score early because of the dominant relievers.

In Game 6, the Reds had a 3 game to 2 lead in their home park of Riverfront Stadium. Pirates manager Jim Leyland tried to take advantage of Lou Piniella’s platoon system by starting a right handed reliever, Ted Power, and then switching to left handed starter Zane Smith early in the game.

Power, Smith and two relievers held the Reds to 2 runs. But Reds starter Danny Jackson allowed only 1 hit over 6 innings. Pirates outfielder Carmello Martinez got the Pirates first hit in the fifth, an RBI double scoring Barry Bonds.

Charlton shut down the Pirates in the 7th and Myers in the 8th and time was running out for Pittsburgh.

By the ninth, Myers was ready to lock down the pennant. Along the way, Pinella made a double switch and sent Glenn Braggs to play right field in place of Paul O’Neill.

The 27 year old Braggs had been a power hitting prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers but never had his breakout season. In early June, 1990, the Reds sent pitchers Ron Robinson and Bob Sebra packing to the Brewers for Braggs and infielder Billy Bates (who will later have his own entry in this series.)

Braggs was strictly a platoon player, starting against left handed pitchers. Had Leyland started Zane Smith instead of Power, Braggs would have been in the lineup. Instead he was a defensive replacement.

In the top of the 9th, Myers kept his scoreless streak alive by retiring Bobby Bonilla. But Barry Bonds walked and up stepped Martinez.

The only player with a hit on the Pirates was in a favorable situation. He was facing the left handed Myers who had already thrown an inning and a third. Right handed reliver Rob Dibble was getting warm, but Piniella decided to manage against the book.

Martinez responded with a deep drive to right. It certainly was going to be a double with the (at the time) speedy Bonds on base. But it was carrying and looked like it had home run distance.

Carmelo Martinez was on the verge of one of the most dramatic hits in playoff history. With the series on the line, he was going to put the Pirates ahead with a line drive homer. A “Do You Remember Where You Were And Who You Were With?” baseball moment.

Except it didn’t happen. Braggs ran back and timed his leap perfectly. He caught the ball with his glove above the home run line and made a play that Paul O’Neill probably would not have been able to make.

Instead of taking the lead and making generations of Reds fans second guess Piniella for not using Dibble, the Pirates were now down to their last out. Myers struck out another right handed batter, Don Slaught and clinched the pennant.

It was a Nasty Boys NLCS with Norm Charlton getting credit for the Game 6 win and Dibble and Myers sharing the MVP honors for the series. The Reds would go on to win the World Series.

But their road to the World Series and the unblemished 1990 record of their amazing bullpen would have looked a lot different had Carmelo Martinez’s homer cleared the fence.

They can thank Glenn Braggs for keeping it in the park. For that reason, he is the Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero for the Day.

Teams with multiple pitchers with post season saves since 1969

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Rangers have played two game in the post season and have two saves from two different pitchers. And neither of those pitchers are named Shawn Tolleson who led the team with 35 saves.

It is refreshing when managers make decisions based on the situation rather than just drag the closer out in the 9th as a default. (Sam Dyson pitched the 9th in Game 1 instead of Tolleson. Manager Jeff Banister used Tolleson in Game 2 when it was NOT a save situation.)

The save became an official stat in 1969. Teams in the post season initially played to the situation instead of using the closer in all close 9th innings. But as saves began to pile up (especially after Tony LaRussa began using Dennis Eckersley one inning at time) and the prices of an innings closers sky rocketed, managers seemed to manage by the book and stick the closer in no matter what.

Every once in a while, a team will have multiple pitchers record a save in a post season. It does not happen often, but they pop up. Just last year, the Giants had 3 different pitchers credited with a save. If Tolleson saves a game, then the Rangers will match that total.

So here are all the teams to use more than one pitcher to save a game since 1969.

Teams with multiple pitchers with post season saves since 1969
1969 New York Mets – Ron Taylor (WS), Nolan Ryan (WS)
1970 Baltimore Orioles – Pete Richert (WS), Dick Hall (WS)
1970 Cincinnati Reds – Clay Carroll (NLCS), Don Gullett (NLCS)
1972 Oakland A’s – Vida Blue (ALCS), Rollie Fingers (WS)
1972 Cincinnati Reds – Clay Carroll (WS), Jack Billingham (WS), Tom Hall (WS)
1973 New York Mets – Tug McGraw (NLCS, WS), George Stone (WS), Ray Sadecki (WS)
1973 Oakland A’s – Rollie Fingers (ALCS, WS), Darold Knowles (WS)
1974 Oakland A’s – Rollie Fingers (ALCS, WS), Catfish Hunter (WS)
1975 Cincinnati Reds – Pedro Borbon (NLCS), Rawly Eastwick (WS), Will McEnaney (WS)
1976 Cincinnati Reds – Pedro Borbon (NLCS), Will McEnaney (WS)
1978 New York Yankees – Ken Clay (ALCS), Rich Gossage (ALCS)
1979 Pittsburgh Pirates – Don Robinson (NLCS), Kent Tekulve (WS)
1980 Philadelphia Phillies – Tug McGraw (NLCS, WS), Ron Reed (WS)
1981 Los Angeles Dodgers – Bob Welch (NLCS), Steve Howe (WS)
1982 Milwaukee Brewers – Pete Ladd (ALCS), Jim Slaton (ALCS), Bob McClure (WS)
1983 Baltimore Orioles – Sammy Stewart (ALCS), Tippy Martinez (WS)
1984 San Diego Padres – Rich Gossage (NLCS), Craig Lefferts (WS)
1985 St. Louis Cardinals – Ken Dayley (NLCS), Todd Worrell (WS), Jeff Lahti (WS)
1986 Boston Red Sox – Calvin Schraldi (ALCS, WS), Bob Stanley (WS)
1987 Minnesota Twins – Juan Berenguer (ALCS), Jeff Reardon (ALCS, WS)
1987 St. Louis Cardinals – Ken Dayley (NLCS, WS), Todd Worrell (NLCS, WS)
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers – Alejandro Pena (NLCS), Orel Hershiser (NLCS), Brian Holton (NLCS), Jay Howell (WS)
1990 Cincinnati Reds – Randy Myers (NLCS, WS), Rob Dibble (NLCS)
1990 Pittsburgh Pirates – Ted Power (NLCS), Bob Patterson (NLCS)
1990 Oakland Athletics – Dennis Eckersley (ALCS), Rick Honeycutt (ALCS)
1991 Pittsburgh Pirates – Bob Walk (NLCS), Roger Mason (NLCS)
1992 Toronto Blue Jays – Tom Henke (ALCS, WS), Mike Timlin (WS)
1992 Atlanta Braves – Jeff Reardon (NLCS), Mike Stanton (WS)
1993 Philadelphia Phillies – Mitch Williams (NLCS), Larry Andersen (NLCS)
1995 Atlanta Braves – Mark Wohlers (DS, NLCS, WS) Greg McMichael (NLCS), Pedro Borbon (WS)
1995 Seattle Mariners – Norm Charlton (DS, ALCS), Bill Risley (DS)
1996 Baltimore Orioles – Randy Myers (DS), Armando Benitez (ALCS)
1997 Cleveland Indians – Jose Mesa (DS, ALCS, WS), Brian Anderson (WS)
1998 San Diego Padres – Trevor Hoffman (DS, NLCS), Donne Wall (NLCS)
1999 Atlanta Braves – Kevin Millwood (DS), John Rocker (DS, NLCS), John Smoltz (NLCS)
1999 New York Yankees – Mariano Rivera (DS, ALCS, WS), Ramiro Mendoza (ALCS)
2000 New York Mets – John Franco (DS), Armando Benitez (NLCS, WS)
2003 Florida Marlins – Ugueth Urbina (DS, NLCS, WS), Braden Looper (NLCS)
2003 Chicago Cubs – Joe Borowski (DS), Mike Remlinger (NLCS)
2003 Boston Red Sox – Derek Lowe (DS), Scott Williamson (ALCS)
2005 Chicago White Sox – Bobby Jenks (DS, WS), Mark Buehrle (WS)
2007 Colorado Rockies – Manny Corpas (DS, NLCS), Ryan Speier (NLCS)
2008 Tampa Bay Rays – Dan Wheeler (DS), David Price (ALCS)
2009 Philadelphia Phillies – Brad Lidge (DS, NLCS), Ryan Madson (WS)
2010 Texas Rangers – Darren Oliver (ALCS), Neftali Feliz (WS)
2011 Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde (DS, ALCS), Phil Coke (ALCS)
2012 Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde (DS), Phil Coke (ALCS)
2014 San Francisco Giants – Santiago Castilla (DS, NLCS, WS), Hunter Strickland (DS), Madison Bumgarner (WS)
2015 Texas Rangers – Sam Dyson (DS), Ross Ohlendorf (DS)


Pitchers who clinched post season series with more than one franchise

Last night Jose Valverde not only made good on his prediction that the Tigers would move past the Yankees in the playoffs but he also joined a select group of relievers.

Throwing the final pitch of a post season series (a minor obsession of mine) is the pinnacle for any closer. But only handful have done it for multiple franchises.

They are…

closed out the 1973 NLCS for the Mets and the 1980 World Series for the Phillies.

clinched the 1978 ALCS and World Series and the 1981 Division Series and ALCS for the Yankees and the 1984 NLCS for the Padres.

closed out the 1988 ALCS and 1989 ALCS and World Series for the A’s and finished the 1996 Division Series for the Cardinals.

finished the 1990 NLCS and World Series for the Reds and then the 1996 and 1997 Division Series as a member of the Orioles.

clinched the 1997 Division Series for the Marlins and the 2002 Division Series for the Giants.

finished the 2003 Division Series with the Cubs and the 2007 Division Series with the Indians.

clinched the 2007 Division Series for the Diamondbacks and the 2011 Division Series for the Tigers.

That’s some pretty cool company for Papa Grande.

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