Only three pitchers have 200 wins while with the Dodgers, with Clayton Kershaw joining the group on Tuesday night against the Mets., with seven dominant innings and nine strikeouts. But let’s look back at when and how Don Drysdale and Don Sutton won their 200th games.
Drysdale and Sutton each won their 200th game in their 440th career start, though counting relief appearances Drysdale was pitching his 493rd game, and Sutton in his 455th contest. Kershaw on Tuesday pitched in his 405th career game, in his 401st start.
Kershaw is 35 years, 30 days old on Tuesday, older than Drysdale (31 years, 339 days) and Sutton (33 years, 107 days) when they reached their milestones.
Drysdale’s 200th win came on June 26, 1968, with the Dodgers in San Francisco to play the Giants. This was the first try at No. 200 for Drysdale, who beat the Mets for his 199th win four days earlier.
Drysdale and Mike McCormick traded zeroes until the seventh inning, when Wes Parker doubled home Jim Lefebvre, then another run scored in the frame thanks to a throwing error on a ground ball hit by Drysdale.
Not that a Dodgers-Giants game needed extra oomph, but in addition to Drysdale going for his 200th win, he also didn’t allow a hit until the eight, retiring 14 in a row at one point. Drysdale walked three, and threw the ball away on a grounder in the eighth, putting the tying runs on base with nobody out. Drysdale got the next two outs and nearly escaped, but pinch-hitter Dave Marshall singled to left field, spoiling both the no-hitter and the shutout.
“No. 200 was the only goal I thought about all winter. I wasn’t worried about a no-hitter, and I’ve never thought about those because I’m not the type that pitches a no-hitter,” Drysdale said after the game, per George Lederer in the Long Beach Press Telegram. “I’m not overpowering anymore, I pitch around the plate. It takes more than that to pitch a no-hitter. You have to pitch up and down and overpower the hitters.”
Drysdale struck out six in his 200th win, including fanning Willie McCovey and Jim Davenport in the ninth, the latter with the tying run on base.
This game came only 18 days after Drysdale set a record with 58 consecutive scoreless innings (thought at the time to be 58⅔ innings, though later revised). 1968 was the year of the pitcher, and the best of them that year was Bob Gibson, who would end the season with a record 1.12 ERA. On the same day as Drysdale’s 200th win, Gibson blanked the Pirates for his fifth straight shutout, extending his own scoreless streak to 47 innings.
The Dodgers would end that scoreless streak in the first inning of Gibson’s next start, but that was the only run the St. Louis ace allowed that day, in a Cardinals win.
Drysdale’s seasonal ERA after his 200th win was 1.21.
Ten years later, Drysdale’s former teammate Sutton was sitting on 199 wins. Having lost to the Astros and the Cardinals earlier on the road trip, Sutton’s third try at No. 200 came on July 18, 1978 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
In the previous start in St. Louis, Sutton was ejected in the seventh inning for throwing a “defaced” ball. Whether Sutton would even make his start against the Pirates was in question, with a potential 10-game suspension looming and, per the Eureka Times Standard, Sutton was also threatening to sue umpire Doug Harvey and the National League “for trying to deprive him of his right to make a living.”
Cooler heads prevailed, and NL president Chub Feeney announced Sutton would not be suspended. The start in Pittsburgh was on.
Omar Moreno tripled and scored in the first inning against Sutton, but the Dodgers provided plenty of breathing room with a five-run fourth inning, keyed by a Joe Ferguson three-run home run.
Dave Parker, who would win National League MVP that season, homered off Sutton in the fourth, but the Dodgers right-hander worked around traffic to keep Pittsburgh off the board for the rest of the game.
“What he’s accomplished is amazing,” manager Tommy Lasorda said, per the Orange County Register. “Especially when you consider he only got 20 wins one year. That means he’s had a lot of 15- and 16-win seasons.”
Sutton, already in his 13th season, kept plugging along for 10 more years, all the way to 324 wins and the Hall of Fame.