December 1, 2021

The Greatest World Series Games Ever Pitched

October 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

After Cole Hamels tore his way through the Tampa Bay Rays lineup in Game 1, my thoughts turned to where it stacked up against the other 208 Game 1 starts in Major League history.  Thanks to Baseball-Reference‘s Play Index and using Game Score as the criteria, I thought it would be fun this week to look at the greatest games (by Game) ever pitched and, in case you were wondering, it’s not Cole Hamels (he’s 88th for Game 1 starters).

GAME 1 (104 Games / 208 Starts)

1. Bob Gibson, ’68 St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers – Game Score: 93

Gibson dominated the Tigers and outpitched Denny McLain en route to a 4-0 win.  Gibson struck out 17 and only saw two base runners in one inning once, in the sixth.  With one out Dick McAuliffe singled and with two out Al Kaline doubled to move McAuliffe to third.  Gibson regrouped and struck out Norm Cash to move the game into the seventh.  Over the next three innings, Gibson allowed just one base runner and struck out the side in the ninth.

The rest of the Top 5:

T-2. Whitey Ford, ’61 New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds – GS: 88
T-2. Allie Reynolds, ’49 New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers – GS: 88
4. Vic Raschi, ’50 New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies – GS: 87
T-5. Johnny Sain, ’48 Boston Braves vs. Cleveland Indians – GS: 85
T-5. Chief Bender, ’10 Philadelphia Athletics vs. Chicago Cubs – GS: 85
T-5. Christy Mathewson, ’05 New York Giants at Philadelphia Athletics – GS: 85

GAME 2 (104 Games / 208 Starts)

1. Babe Ruth, ’16 Boston Red Sox vs. Brooklyn Robins – GS: 97

According to the Game Scores, Babe Ruth pitched the greatest game in World Series history in Game 2 of the ’16 World Series.  Ruth gave up an inside-the-park home run to Hy Myers in the first then tacked on 13 scoreless innings the rest of the way to beat the Brooklyn Robins and go up 2-0 in the Series.  The Sox won in the 14th inning on a walk-off single by pinch hitter Del Gainer to win 2-1.  The Red Sox went on to win the Series four games to one.

The rest of the Top 5:

2. Randy Johnson, ’01 Arizona Diamondbacks vs. New York Yankees – GS: 91
T-3. Monte Pearson, ’39 New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds – GS: 90
T-3. Bill Dineen, ’03 Boston Americans vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – GS: 90
T-5. Jim Lonborg, ’67 Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals – GS: 88
T-5. Bill James, ’14 Boston Braves at Philadelphia Athletics – GS: 88

GAME 3 (103 Games / 206 Starts)

1. Ed Walsh, ’06 Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs – GS: 94

Big Ed Walsh put the White Sox up in their Series with the cross-town rival Cubs.  Walsh dominated and allowed two hits and a walk and added in 12 strikeouts to help the White Sox to a 3-0 victory over the Cubs.  Walsh pitched again in the Series in Game 5 and despite allowing six runs — only one earned — he picked up his second win of the World Series.

The Rest of the Top 5:

2. Don Drysdale, ’63 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees - GS: 89
3. Jack Coombs, ’11 Philadelphia Athletics at New York Giants – GS: 88
4. Christy Mathewson, ’05 New York Giants at Philadelphia Athletics – GS: 86
5. Claude Passeau, ’45 Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers – GS: 85

GAME 4 (103 Games / 206 Starts)

1. George Earnshaw, ’31 Philadelphia Athletics vs. St. Louis Cardinals – GS: 90

Like Walsh in ’06, Earnshaw pitched a two-hitter to help even up their Series with the Cardinals.  Earnshaw retired the first 11 batters of the game before Frankie Frisch reached on a walk.  In the fifth inning, Earnshaw’s no-hit bid was ended when Pepper Martin singled.  Martin got a hit later in the game off of Earnshaw and accounted for the only positive offense in the Cardinals’ lineup.  Unfortunately for Earnshaw, the Athletics refused to provide him with run support and he lost Game 2 and Game 7 of the World Series.

The Rest of the Top 5:

2. Warren Spahn, ’58 Milwaukee Braves at New York Yankees – GS: 88
T-3. Allie Reynolds, ’52 New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers – GS: 86
T-3. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, ’06 Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox – GS: 86
5. George Mullin, ’09 Detroit Tigers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – GS: 85

GAME 5 (85 Games / 170 Starts)

1. Don Larsen, ’56 New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers – GS: 94

Even if you are the biggest fan of Game Score, the fact that Don Larsen’s perfect game is not the highest rated game in World Series history has to diminish the overall effectiveness of Game Score as a measure of how good a game is.  Larsen retired 27 straight in their 2-0 win over the Dodgers and is the only pitcher to ever pitch a perfect game in the World Series.

The Rest of the Top 5:

2. Hod Eller, ’19 Cincinnati Reds at Chicago White Sox – GS: 89
3. Sandy Koufax, ’65 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Minnesota Twins – GS: 88
T-4. Bob Gibson, ’64 St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees – GS: 87
T-4. Orval Overall, ’08 Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers – GS: 87

GAME 6 (61 Games / 122 Starts)

1. Tom Glavine, ’95 Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians - GS: 85

Glavine didn’t go the distance but in eight innings against the Indians allowed one hit and struck out eight in their 1-0 win over the Indians in their World Series-clinching victory.  Glavine’s three walks helped add to his high pitch count and manager Bobby Cox replaced Glavine with Mark Wohlers who closed out the game easily in the ninth.

The Rest of the Top 5:

2. Josh Beckett, ’03 Florida Marlins at New York Yankees – GS: 84
3. Duster Mails, ’20 Cleveland Indians vs. Brooklyn Robins – GS: 83
4. Clem Labine, ’56 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Yankees – GS: 81
*5. Bob Turley, ’56 New York Yankees at Brooklyn Dodgers – GS: 80

* Turley was the only pitcher in any of the Top 5 lists to lose the game.  Turley lost to Labine (#4 on the list) in a 10-inning game won by a Jackie Robinson walk-off single.

GAME 7 (39 Games / 78 Starts)

1. Sandy Koufax, ’65 Los Angeles Dodgers at Minnesota Twins – GS: 88

Faced with a decisive seventh game situation, what’s a future Hall of Famer to do?  In the case of Sandy Koufax in ’65, it’s pitch a complete game three-hit shutout to beat the Twins 2-0 in Minnesota and deliver a World Championship to Los Angeles and the Dodgers organization.  But what was new at that point.  For Koufax and the Los Angeles version of the Dodgers, it was their third World Championship in seven seasons.

The Rest of the Top 5:

2. Jack Morris, ’91 Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves – GS: 84
3. Ralph Terry, ’62 New York Yankees at San Francisco Giants – GS: 83
T-4. Bob Gibson, ’67 St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox – GS: 80
T-4. Dizzy Dean, ’34 St. Louis Cardinals at Detroit Tigers – GS: 80

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