Holland's game one of best of past 20 years

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
2:16
PM ET
The highest World Series game score of all time belongs to Babe Ruth, for a game in 1916 in which he pitched 14 innings and allowed just six hits and one run. Ruth's game scores at 97. Don Larsen's perfect game -- 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 7 SO -- scores a 94, tied with Ed Walsh's 12-strikeout, 2-hit shutout in 1906.

In World Series history, only eight starts have scored 90 or better according to the game score metric -- in addition to the three above, the others were recorded by Gibson in 1968 (93), Randy Johnson in 2001 (91) and Monte Pearson in 1939, George Earnshaw in 1931 and Bill Dinneen in 1903 (all 90).

Derek Holland's game scored at 84, just the 45th outing in World Series history to score that high, and the highest since Josh Beckett's five-hit shutout in Game 6 of 2003, which also scored 84. ESPN's Stats & Information team broke down Holland's start, complete with heat maps of his pitch locations, and also reports Holland was just the seventh left-hander since 1920 to record a game score of at least 84 -- joining Johnson, Sandy Koufax (who did it twice), Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Tom Glavine and John Tudor.

After the game, Holland said he couldn't let the importance of the game -- down two games to one, it was a needed win for the Rangers -- get to him. "I just wanted to make sure I could go out there and execute all my pitches," he said. "That was the main thing. I wanted to go right after these hitters. I wanted to show that I belong here."

He certainly did that. Since Jack Morris' 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of 1991, here's my ranking of the five best World Series starts.

1. Josh Beckett, Marlins, Game 6, 2003 (game score: 84)
Pitching on three days' rest and in Yankee Stadium, Beckett tossed the five-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, throwing just 107 pitches, to clinch the title for the Marlins. Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and the Yankees went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

2. Tom Glavine, Braves, Game 6, 1995 (game score: 85)
In another clinching game, Glavine held the explosive Cleveland lineup (Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome) to just one hit in eight innings, walking three and striking out eight. Mark Wohlers got the final three outs as the Braves won 1-0 for their only World Series title in Atlanta.

3. Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks, Game 2, 2001 (game score: 91)
Johnson dominated with an 11-strikeout, three-hit shutout to give Arizona a 2-0 series lead. He struck out each Yankee at least once and only baserunner reached second base.

4. Derek Holland, Rangers, Game 4, 2011 (game score: 84)
Considering the circumsances: Trailing in the series, pitching in a tough ballpark against an explosive lineup, an absolute masterpiece.

5. Roger Clemens, Yankees, Game 2, 2000 (game score: 87)
Yes, this was that game. What everyone forgets is that Clemens pitched eight masterful innings, allowing just two hits, no runs, no walks while striking out nine. (The Mets scored five runs in the ninth to make the final score 6-5.)

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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