July 24, 1965: Joe Nuxhall holds the Astros hitless for 7 1/3 innings before settling for a one-hit shutout in a Reds 2-0 victory in Houston. The win moved the second place Reds to within one game of the first place Dodgers.
The Astros’ Turk Farrell held the Reds scoreless through 7 2/3 innings himself, holding the Reds to just three singles for the first seven innings. The Reds broke through in the eighth, when Leo Cardenas reached on a one-out single. Nuxhall sacrificed Cardenas to second and Tommy Harper singled with Cardenas stopping at third. Pete Rose then drilled a two-run triple driving in the only runs of the game. The Reds had loaded the bases in the top half of the second inning on singles by Frank Robinson and Gordy Coleman and a walk to Johnny Edwards, but Cardenas struck out and Nuxhall popped out to end the threat. These were the only other Reds to get into scoring position.
The only Astros baserunner to get into scoring position was in the bottom of the eighth. Nuxhall walked Joe Gaines to lead off the inning, Gus Triandos popped up, but Bob Lillis singled advancing Gaines to third. Nuxhall ended the threat when he struck out Walt Bond and induced Joe Morgan to fly out to centerfield to end the threat. The Astros had just two other runners in the game: Nuxhall hit Jim Wynn with a pitch in the second inning and Morgan drew a sixth inning walk.
For the game Nuxhall allowed one hit, walked two, hit one, and struck out 11, earning a game score of 94. Nuxhall improved his record tro 7-3 en route to an 11-4 season with a 3.45 ERA. He won six games in the month of July alone as the Reds were running neck and neck with the Dodgers for the pennant.
Unfortunately, for the Reds, the season lasted about one week too long. The Reds were in third place, only three games behind the Giants and Dodgers who wre tied for first. The Reds had seven games remaining, three with the Dodgers and four with the Giants. The bad news for Reds manager, Dick Sisler, in his only full season as a major league manager, is that the Reds lost seven of their last eight games (including one game to the Astros before the Giants and Dodgers series) and the Reds finished the season 89-73 in fourth place, eight games off the pace.
The last week swoon may have been what caused Sisler to lose his manager’s job. The Reds were outscored 31-12 in their seven losses, despite beating the Giants 17-2 in their one win during that span. Sisler was replaced as manager in the offseason by Don Heffner who only lasted 83 games (37-46) as manager of the Reds in 1966 before being replaced by Dave Bristol. No doubt, the loss of Frank Robinson in an offseason trade played a role in the Reds’ 1966 diminished performance.
1965 saw the Reds put up some impressive individual numbers:
Third baseman Deron Johnson finished fourth in MVP balloting, batting .287 with 32 home runs and led the league with 130 rbi.
Pete Rose had his first breakout season and finished sixth in MVP voting. He batted .312, led the league with 209 hits, was second with 117 runs scored, third in OBP at .382, and was tied for third with 35 doubles.
Tommy Harper led the league with 126 runs scored.
Vada Pinson was second in hits with 204, was third in total bases, fifth in doubles, and scored 97 runs.
Frank Robinson was second in rbi with 113, tied for fourth in home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS (.925), scored 109 runs, and received MVP support.
Leo Cardenas batted .287, was first in intentional walks, won the Gold Glove for shortstop play, and received MVP votes.
Jim Maloney received MVP votes, finishing sixth in wins (20), fourth in ERA (2.54), second in hits/9 innings (6.66), and fifth in stirkeouts (244).
Meanwhile, the first amateur draft was held in the offseason. The Reds made third baseman Bernie Carbo (16th overall piick) their first ever amateur draftee in the first round. In the second round, a catcher from Binger, Oklahoma, was drafted…a certain catcher by the name of Johnny Bench (36th overall pick). Shortstop Hal McRae was selected in the sixth round.