The hard-throwing, 6'4" 225-lb Robinson bounced back from elbow surgery to win The Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year honors in 1978, when he went 14-6 for Pittsburgh. But he underwent shoulder operations in 1979 and 1981 before winning a club-high 15 games in 1982. His shoulder again kept him out for most of 1983, and he returned in 1984 as a relief pitcher.
Robinson was shipped to the San Francisco Giants in mid-1987 and helped them win the National League West title;
he tied teammate Scott Garrelts with a league-high eleven relief wins, going five and one with seven saves down the stretch. He won the pennant-clincher on September 28, 1927, homering to break a 4-4 tie with San Diego.
An exceptional fielder and hitter with home run power, Robinson played right field in the minors in 1983 when he wasn't on the mound. His lifetime average was .231, and he was used as a pinch-hitter several times.
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»May 10, 1984: In the Giants 4–2 loss at Pittsburgh, the Giants CF Chili Davis throws out two runners in one inning. Dale Berra drives in three runs for the winners. Don Robinson, relieving in the 8th with the bases loaded and no outs, stops SF on no runs.
»April 18, 1987: Mike Schmidt hits his 500th career home run, a 3-run shot off Pittsburgh's Don Robinson in the top of the 9th inning to give the Phillies an 8–6 win. Schmidt is the 15th ML player to reach the 500-HR plateau.
»July 30, 1987:
The Pirates trade P Don Robinson to the Giants for minor league catcher Mackey Sasser and cash. The Indians trade fading veteran Steve Carlton to the Twins for a player to be named later.
»June 19, 1990: Gary Carter catches his 1,862nd career game to break Al Lopez's National League mark. He goes 0-for-3 in the Giants' 4–3 loss to San Diego. Batting for Ed Vosberg in the bottom of the 5th, Giants Don Robinson becomes the first pitcher to hit a pinch home run since 1971. San Diego's Bruce Hurst serves up the gopher. His job done, Robinson does not pitch.
»September 28, 1991:
The Giants top the Dodgers, 4–1, as Don Robinson earns his first save in three years by stopping the Dodgers. In the 9th inning, L.A. loads the bases with one out, but does not score. Will Clark hits a 2-run homer to drive in his 109th and 110th runs of the year. With the Braves 5-4 comeback win over the Astros, the Dodgers lead in the West is one game with seven to play.