The Angels have had a rich history in the past 57 years. Don Sutton did something that has only happened once in Angel history: have a pitcher earn his 300th victory while wearing an Angel uniform.
In 1986 it was a magical season for the Angels and Don Sutton. It was one of the best seasons in Angels history. In 1986 the team was the California Angels and early in the season fans could tell it was going to be a special year. The Angels started strong and would end the season the same way in clinching their third AL West title in eight seasons.
One of the top moments of the season occurred on June 18th 1986. That is when a Florida boy from Pensacola toed th mound in his second attempt to earn his 300th victory. Sutton was supposed to start the next day on the road, but he convinced Angel manager Gene Mauch to let him have one more chance to achieve the milestone in front of the home fans in Anaheim. Mauch obliged and the stage was set.
The opponent Sutton would face was the Texas Rangers who were one of the two teams chasing the Angels in the AL West race. The Angels backed Sutton early with three first inning runs on an RBI-Double by Brian Downing and a two-run single by Rob Wilfong. That is all Sutton needed as he was on this June night.
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Sutton only allowed a second inning single to the Rangers Ruben Sierra as he retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced in shutting out the Rangers over the first five innings. Rupert Jones extended the Angels lead to 4-0 with a 5th inning home run.
In the top of the 7th inning Sutton’s only mistake of the night was crushed to center field by the Rangers Pete Incaviglia for a solo home run to cut the Angels lead to 4-1. Sutton would bounce right back to strikeout Larry Parrish to end the inning. Brian Downing would get the run right back as he hit a solo homer of his own to make the score 5-1.
Ruben Sierra would open the top of the eighth with a lead-off single, but Sutton would be up to the task as he would get Geno Petralli to ground into a double play to end the 8th inning.
In the top of the 9th inning Angel fans could sense that Sutton was on the verge of reaching this special milestone. They gave Sutton a standing ovation when he strode to the mound attempting to become the 19th pitcher to reach 300 career victories.
Scott Fletcher and Oddibe McDowell both flew out to center fielder Gary Pettis to put Sutton just one out away from 300. All that stood in Sutton’s way was the Rangers Gary Ward. Sutton got two strikes on Ward and he threw his last pitch of the night which Ward swung and missed on. Sutton pumped his fist twice in the air and then lifted his hands over his head as the 37,044 fans cheered the 41-year old. The 300 win club had a new member and it was an Angel, it was Don Sutton.
Sutton would end his career with 324 victories which is good for 14th place on the all-time wins list. Sutton is tied with Nolan Ryan in victories. Sutton also ended up with 3,574 strikeouts as well which is seventh place on the all-time list.
The Angels may never again have a 300 game winner on their staff since pitchers are not getting as many starts each season. But because of Don Sutton they will have at least one pitcher win 300 games wearing an Angel uniform.
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