Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Most Dominant World Series Pitching Performances (Part I)

Game 5 1956 World Series

To date, Larsen's perfect game is still the only one in World Series history. Years after the fact, he remembered: "I was so happy, I felt like crying." In a comical understatement, an Associated Press writer asked him if it was the best game he ever pitched. He used 97 pitches to complete his masterpiece and issued three balls to just one Dodger hitter--Pee Wee Reese. Yogi Berra said that Larsen didn't shake off a single sign that day. Larsen's feat was especially impressive considering the batters he had to face. In addition to aforementioned Reese, he squared off against Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella. Interestingly, Larsen threw out the ceremonial first pitch before David Cone's perfect game forty-three years later.

Game 2 1916 World Series 

Some people forget that Ruth was a pitcher before he became an outfielder. After leading the Red Sox staff with 23 wins, he started Game 2 of the 1916 Fall Classic against the Brooklyn Robins. To accomodate more fans, the game was played at cavernous Braves Field in Boston. The deep dimensioins worked against Ruth in the first inning when Brooklyn's Hi Myers found a gap in deep right-center field, circling the bases with an inside-the-park homer. It was the only run Ruth allowed all afternoon. In the bottom of the third, he tied the game with an RBI ground out. He was still on the mound when the game meandered into the fourteenth inning. He faced 48 batters and allowed just 6 hits in a 2-1 Boston win. No pitcher has ever lasted that long in a single series game. The game itself was the longest in history until Game 3 of the 2005 Fall Classic. 

Game 1 1968 World Series

The fearsome Gibson was unapproachable even to teammates on the days he started and once referred to himself as "an asshole." He compiled a 7-2 lifetime record in postseason play with a 1.89 ERA. His finest single game effort came in Game 1 of the '68 Fall Classic, when he struck out 17 Tiger batters--an all time record. Interestingly, 3 of the 5 hits he allowed that day came off the bats of infielders Don Wert and Mickey Stanley, who had combined for a .230 average during the regular season. Gibson completed a shutout and went on the win Game 4 by a score of 10-1. The Tigers finally tagged him for 4 runs in Game 7, winning the Series over the Cardinals. 

Game 6 1926 World Series

Alexander's performance in Game 7 of the '26 Fall Classic gained lasting acclaim. With the Series tied at 3 games apiece and the Cardinals clinging to a 3-2 seventh inning lead over the Yankees, St. Louis player/manager Rogers Hornsby summoned Alexander to replace Hall of Famer Jesse Haines, who had developed a blister on his pitching hand. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Alexander struck out the dangerous Tony Lazzeri to end the threat. He held the Bombers scoreless in the eighth and ninth as well, clinching a Series victory for the Cardinals. But "Old Pete's" performance the day before was even better. With the Cardinals on the brink of elimination, he went the distance in a 10-2 win. What made his appearance especially notable (aside from the fact that he was facing one of the greatest teams of all time) was his age. At 39 years, 7 months, he became the older pitcher in Series history to throw a complete game. 

1905 World Series

It's hard to determine which game of the '05 Fall Classic Christy Mathewson was most dominant in. Mathewson, who was the face of the Giants franchise in those days, had captured a triple crown (the first of two) during the regular season. His performance in the Series is considered by many to be the greatest of all time. After refusing to face Boston in the 1904 postseason, Giants owner John T. Brush worked out his differences with rival American League magnates. The '05 Fall Classic--just the second official World Series in history--pitted Brush's Giants against Connie Mack's A's. Mathewson disposed of his Philadelphia opponents with uniform precision. In Games 1 and 3, he tossed a pair of 4-hitters while striking out 14 batters. In the fifth game, he clinched the Series for New York with another shutout--this one a five-hitter. By the time the A's scored off Mathewson in Game 1 of the 1911 World Series, he had completed 28.1 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason--a record later broken by Babe Ruth and Whitey Ford.     


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