This Day in Baseball: The Dodgers from Sandy Koufax to Chris Capuano

Steven GoldmanMLB Lead BloggerApril 24, 2012

Chris Capuano: 'T was the night before Koufax...
Chris Capuano: 'T was the night before Koufax...Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

On Monday night, the Dodgers improved their record to 13-4, including 7-0 at home, with a victory over the Atlanta Braves (and Jair Jurrjens, a very good bet to be placed on a disabled list near you sometime in the near future--late edit: he's been demoted, and if I had to guess, he'll ultimately end up on the Triple-A DL). They won 7-2 behind a solid start by Chris Capuano.

We call it a solid start because he allowed only one run in seven innings, but take another look—he allowed six hits and four walks, and it’s not unreasonable to think that on a different day more of those 10 baserunners would have scored.

Perhaps there was a little magic in the air for Capuano, because he was pitching on the eve of the 50th anniversary of one of Sandy Koufax’s great games. On April 24, 1962, the lefty took the hill at Wrigley Field and threw a complete game, allowing six hits, four walks and two runs—one of them a solo shot by fellow future Hall of Famer Billy Williams—while striking out a record-tying 18.

Koufax struck out every hitter in the starting lineup at least once and also K’d all three pinch-hitters sent up to face him. He whiffed four future Hall of Famers: In addition to Williams, he struck out Lou Brock, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks.

The Dodgers also got a good day from their other Hall of Famer on the field, as Duke Snider went 2-for-3 with three RBI, including a two-run home run.

The Koufax victory improved the Dodgers’ record to 9-5 and moved them within three games of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had opened the season 11-0 and had lost their first game just that day.

The Dodgers would go on to win 102 games that year, but it was a tragic season—despite being up by four games in mid-September, they would squander their lead, end up in a playoff with the Giants, and lose it—one of the most disappointing finishes in team history and a stain on manager Walt Alston’s reputation that has never faded.

Let us hope that Don Mattingly’s team avoids a similar fate.