September 20, 1888: Cincinnati star pitcher, Tony Mullane, pitches complete games in both games of a doubleheader as the Red Stockings sweep the Philadelphia Athletics, 1-0 and 2-1, in Cincinnati.
There were high expectations for the 1888 Red Stockings team and they bolted out of the gate, winning 21 of their first 26 games, and taking a first place lead. However, that was the high note and by mid-September the Red Stockings were comfortably in fourth place of a eight team league. The Red Stockings were a team built on defense and pitching as only star first baseman John Reilly had an outstanding year with the bat. Reilly nearly won the Triple Crown as he led the American Association with 13 home runs, 103 rbi, SLP (.501), OPS (.864), OPS+ (170), but finished second in batting average (.321), 14 points behind the leader, Tip O’Neill. Reilly also tied for second in the league with 28 doubles and was fourth in triples with 14. Reilly and outfielder Hugh Nicol both scored 112 runs; Nicol scored 112 runs by stealing 103 bases. Nicol’s batting average was .239 with a .330 OBP. He had stolen a team record 138 bases in 1887.
The Red Stockings boasted three 20-game winners on their pitching staff: Mullane was the 29-year-old veteran who went 26-16 with a 2.84 ERA; 21-year-old rookie Lee Viau was 27-14 with a 2.65 ERA and 20-year-old Mike Smith was 22-17 with a 2.74 ERA.
September 20, 1920 Light hitting second baseman Morrie Rath hit the only two home runs of his 1920 season, and the last two of his career (his career total was four) in a 9-3 win for the Reds against the New York Giants in New York. Both home runs were hit inside the park.
Rath had an interesting career path. After cups of coffee with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Naps in 1910, he became the Chicago White Sox regular second baseman in 1912 and led the league in games played (157) and plate appearances (709). He batted .272, drew 95 walks, scored 104 runs, but only had 19 rbi for he had only 13 extra base hits out of 161 total hits. He was back in the minors by 1914, but the Reds drafted him in the Rule 5 draft and he became the Reds leadoff hitter and starting second baseman for their 1919 World Championship team. Rath batted .264 with a .641 OPS and was a starter in 1920, too, batting .267 with a .628 OPS and that was his last major league year.
Rath only hit four major league home runs, one each in 1912 and 1919 and the two that came on this day, in the second game of a doubleheader. Rath went 3-5 in the game with three rbi in the game as the Reds won the nightcap. The Giants won the first game of the day, 5-2.
The 1920 Reds were the defending 1919 World Champions. They were in contention for the vast majority of the year and were in first place as late as September 6. However, they only won 4 of their next 19 games which plummeted them to third place, 10 1/2 games off the lead, which is where they finished with an 82-71 record.
The Reds’ offense was led by Hall of Famer Edd Roush, who finished third in the league with a .339 batting average and with 90 rbi (142 OPS+). First baseman Jake Daubert batted .304 (127 OPS+) and third baseman Heinie Groh batted .298. The Reds used a five-man rotation for their pitching staff with five different hurlers throwing between 201 and 266 innings pitched. Jimmy Ring led the team with 17 wins (17-16, 3.54 ERA) while Dutch Ruether was probably the most effective starting pitcher, finishing the season 16-12 with a 2.47 ERA (123 ERA+) and five shutouts.
September 20, 1964: For the second consecutive day, the Reds mount a terrific comeback to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Behind 6-0 through 3 1/2 innings, the Reds comeback to win the game, 9-6. The win moved the Reds into a second place tie with the Cardinals, 6 1/2 games behind the league leading Philadelphia Phillies, with 13 games to play. Of those 13 games for the Reds, five were with the Phillies.
The Reds scored once in the fourth and three times in the fifth before tying the game in the sixth on a two-run single by Reds catcher Johnny Edwards. The winning runs scored in the eighth inning. Marty Keough led off with a single and Edwards followed with another single, Keough stopping at second base. One-out later, Reds pitcher Sammy Ellis reached base on an error on his sacrifice bunt attempt to load the bases. Pete Rose then reached on a two-base error sacrifice fly when Cardinals Gold Glove centerfielder Curt Flood misplayed his fly ball allowing two runs to score with Ellis advancing to third base. Chico Ruiz then delivered another sacrifice fly, scoring Ellis, to give the Reds their final victory margin.
This win jump started a nine-game Reds winning streak which would catapult them all the way into first place with four games to go in the season. Eventually, the Cardinals won the pennant, passing both the Reds and Phillies. The Reds finished tied in second place with a 92-70 record.
September 20, 1992: Reds pitcher Tim Belcher struck out 13 batters as the Reds beat the San Diego Padres, 6-1, at home in Cincinnati.
The Reds hitting stars were Bip Roberts who went 4-4 with two doubles and right fielder Paul O’Neill who went 3-3 with a home run. For the season, Roberts batted .323 with a .393 OBP and 44 steals (132 OPS+). Barry Larkin batted .304 with 50 extra base hits and a 132 OPS+.
Belcher went the distance, allowing seven hits and walking no one in addition to striking out the 13 batters. Belcher finished the year with a 15-14 record and a 3.91 ERA. Jose Rijo (15-10, 2.56 ERA, 142 ERA+) and Greg Swindell (12-8, 2.70 ERA, 134 ERA+) were the most effective Reds starting pitchers.
The 1992 Reds finished the year with a 92-70 record in second place, eight games behind the Atlanta Braves. Belcher’s effort led to the fourth consecutive Reds victory during an end-of-season nine-game winning streak that pulled the Reds within 4 1/2 games of first place before fading to finishing eight games out.
September 20, 1998: Reds second baseman Bret Boone breaks loose for three home runs and six rbi in a Reds 7-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Boone homers in the fourth, fifth, and eighth innings in the game, two being hit off Cubs starter Kevin Tapani. Bret Boone goes on to lead the 1998 Reds in home runs with 24, batting .266 and also leading the Reds with 95 rbi. Bret Boone played 14 major league seasons, five with the Reds. In his five Reds seasons, Bret Boone batted .260 with 70 home runs (89 OPS+). For his entire 14 year career, Bret Boone batted .266 with 252 home runs and 1021 rbi (101 OPS+).
Barry Larkin had the best offensive season for any Red in 1998, batting .309 with 61 extra base hits, and a .901 OPS (134 OPS+). Pete Harnisch, the beneficiary of Boone’s three-homer day, was the Reds’ best pitcher going 14-7 with a 3.14 ERA (138 ERA+). The 1998 Reds finished the season 77-85 and in fourth place.