September 8, 1969: The 1969 Cincinnati Reds moved back into first place for one day as the Reds swept the San Francisco Giants in a double header. Both scores were 5-4 with the second game lasting 15 innings. Relief pitcher Wayne Granger earned a save in the first game and pitched eight innings of shutout relief in the nitecap to earn the victory.
The Reds entered the day in second place 1 1/2s game behind the Giants, with the third place Atlanta Braves two games out, and the fourth place Los Angeles Dodgers 2 1/2 games behind the Giants. Even the fifth place Houston Astros were in striking distance, 4 1/2 games behind the leaders. With five teams in the race anything could happen and it did. The Dodgers and Astros faded, the Reds and Giants played slightly better than .500 ball, and the Braves won 17 of their last 22 to win the first National League Western Division title.
The Reds scored the first three runs of the first game, two of them unearned, off Giants starter Juan Marichal, as the Giants made three errors in the first two innings, all on bad throws. The Giants battled back to within one at 4-3, but young catcher Johnny Bench’s eighth inning home run proved to be an important insurance run.
Reds starter Jim Maloney entered the ninth inning looking for a complete game. Giants catcher Dick Dietz reached second base to start the inning when Reds centerfielder Bobby Tolan misplayed his flyball. Don Mason was sent in to run for Dietz and Willie Mays was sent up to pinch hit for Tito Fuentes. Mays drew a walk from Maloney and Leon Wagner singled to right field scoring Mason and sending Mays to third base. Dave Marshall pinch ran for Wagner at first base and Reds closer Granger was called in to relieve Maloney. Granger induced Ken Henderson to fly out to left field (Mays did not attempt to score), and then Granger induced Ron Hunt to ground into a game-ending double play, third-second-first to end the game and move the Reds within 1/2 game of the Giants.
The Reds got off to an early lead in the second game, too, this time scoring three times in the second inning on a run-scoring single by Woody Woodward and a two-run single by Pete Rose. The Giants scored one in the top of the fourth, but the Reds answered when Rose singled home another run to give the Reds a 4-1 lead. The Giants tied it at 4-4 in the seventh with three runs off four Reds pitchers, and the game went into extra innings.
Not one player for either team made it into scoring position after the Giants tied it in the seventh until the bottom of the 15th inning when the Reds won the game and moved into first place. Pinch hitter Ted Savage, batting for Woodward, led off the 15th with a single. Jimmy Stewart sacrificed Savage to second base and into scoring position. Rose was issued an intentional walk, but Tolan followed with a single to centerfield to score Savage and the Reds won the game, 5-4.
After saving the first game by retiring both batters he faced with the tying and go ahead runners on base, Granger returned to the mound in the second game and pitched eight scoreless innings of relief. He allowed three hits and walked one, and struck out five in the process in the second game alone. The save was Granger’s 20th for the season and the win was his eighth. In his first full major league season, Granger set a league record with 90 games pitched (since broken), pitching 144 innings in relief, and he finished 55 of them. He went 9-5 with 27 saves and a 2.80 ERA. In 1970, he saved a league record 35 saves (since broken), and went 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA.
Granger had been acquired along with Tolan in the trade that sent popular star Vada Pinson to the St. Louis Cardinals after the 1968 season. Granger pitched with the Reds through 1971 (7-6, 3.33 ERA, 11 saves) before being dispatched to the Minnesota Twins in trade for Tom Hall. For his career, Granger pitched nine seasons and went 35-35 with a 3.14 ERA and 108 saves. With the Reds, Granger was 22-17 with a 2.92 ERA and 73 saves in 227 games pitched. Granger was named The Sporting News National League Reliever of the Year for both 1969 and 1970.
Granger was also named to the 2010 class of the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. For those of you who may have seen the baseball move “Summer Catch” starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., and Jessica Biel (and featuring a home run by Red Ken Griffey, Jr., to end the movie), Granger played in the actual Cape Cod League where top prospects go to play and show their wares to scouts from around baseball. Granger played in the league in the summer of 1962.