After five innings of shutout work against the Dodgers on April 13th, Greg Maddux had won 349 games in his illustrious career. Since then, winning his 350th has proved to be quite difficult, as his last four starts have resulted in three losses and a no-decision. Even though one was a tough loss and his no-decision consisted of seven shutout innings, Maddux still sits on 349 wins. Seeing my idol fail to secure this milestone brought to mind what other pitchers struggled in recording wins milestones of their own.
The last pitcher to 350 was Roger Clemens, who did so with his third win last season. Prior to that 8 IP-2 H performance against the Twins, Clemens had failed in three consecutive starts to get to 350.
Nolan Ryan won 324 games in his career but #320 did not come easily. He won his 319th game in July of 1992 but then failed in TEN consecutive starts closing out the season (6 losses, 4 no-decision) to get his milestone. As fate would have it, he would get #320 in his first start of the 1993 season.
In an odd turn of events, Don Sutton lost his next start after winning his 319th game, but picked up #320 after going 4.1 IP in relief soonafter.
Phil Niekro won his 299th game in 1985 but missed out on #300 in four subsequent starts. He would win his 300th in the final start of that 1985 season.
It took Early Wynn six tries to get his 300th win and, unfortunately for him, these attempts spanned two years. After missing out in his final three 1962 starts, he could not win in his first three 1963 starts. I guess you could say his 300th win came…early…in the 1963 season. (Note – I apologize to pun-haters). He finally won his 300th in his fourth start in 1963, however it came with the ugly-in-1963 line of 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER.
Maddux has struggled to win his 350th but, have no fear, he will reach this milestone even if it takes him a Nolan Ryan-esque ten attempts.
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