SweetSpot: Bret Saberhagen
October, 28, 2011
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Mark DuncanJack Morris threw all 10 innings in Minnesota's 1-0 win against Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 Series.There have been 35 Game 7s played in the World Series. They provide many of the most indelible moments in the sport’s long history: Bill Mazeroski’s home run, Jack Morris’ shutout, Luis Gonzalez’s blooper, Joaquin Andujar going nuts.
Now we have 36, the first one since the Angels beat the Giants in 2002. As Matt Harrison prepares to face Chris Carpenter, here is an abbreviated history of Game 7s, which usually feature three primary ingredients:
1. They are close. Thirteen of the 35 games were decided by one run and another seven by two runs.
2. Good pitching. There have been nine shutouts altogether, and in the past five Game 7s, no team has scored more than four runs and the team average over those five is just 2.2 runs per game.
3. The home team does well -- at least recently. It has won the past eight Game 7s. The last road team to win was the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Best pitching performances
1. Jack Morris, Twins, 1991: Ten scoreless innings. Game score: 84.
2. Sandy Koufax, Dodgers, 1965: Pitching on two days’ rest, pitched a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. Game score: 88.
3. Ralph Terry, Yankees, 1962: A four-hit shutout to win 1-0. Game score: 83.
4. Johnny Podres, Dodgers, 1955. Scattered eight hits, but blanked the mighty Yankees to finally deliver a title to the Bums. Game score: 73.
5. Bret Saberhagen, Royals, 1985. The youngest pitcher to start a Game 7 (21 years, 1999 days), he only struck out two, but threw just 92 pitches in limiting the Cardinals to five hits and no walks in an 11-0 victory. Game score: 79.
Best hitting performances
1. Yogi Berra, Yankees, 1956. Only five times has a player driven in four runs in a Game 7 -- Berra and teammate Bill Skowron each did it twice, and Detroit's Paul Richards did it in 1945. Only once has a player hit two home runs, and that was Berra in 1956. He hit two-run homers in the first and third innings to stake the Yankees to a 4-0 lead, added two walks and another run scored.
2. Willie Stargell, Pirates, 1979: Went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a two-run homer in the sixth that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead in an eventual 4-1 victory.
3. Max Carey, Pirates, 1925: Went 4-for-5 with three doubles, three runs and two RBIs in Pittsburgh's 9-7 win.
4. Ken Boyer, Cardinals, 1964: Singled and scored in the fourth, doubled and scored in the fifth, homered in the seventh.
5. Bucky Harris, Senators, 1924: Went 3-for-5 with a home run and two-run single in the eighth that tied the game.
1. Bucky Harris, Senators, 1925: Left Walter Johnson in to surrender 15 hits and nine runs -- including five over the final two innings in a 9-7 loss.
2. John McNamara, Red Sox, 1986: The game after Calvin Schiraldi helped blow Boston's 10th-inning lead, McNamara brought Schiraldi back in with the game tied in the seventh inning. He immediately gave up a home run to Ray Knight, two more hits and a wild pitch and left after recording just one out (and that was on a sacrifice bunt).
3. Dick Williams, Red Sox, 1967: He brought back ace Jim Lonborg on two days' rest and left him to give up 10 hits and seven runs in six innings.
4. Charlie Grimm, Cubs, 1945: Hank Borowy had started Game 5 and pitched four innings in relief to win Game 6, but Grimm went to the well once too often. Borowy couldn't retire a batter as the Tigers scored five runs in the top of the first.
5. Whitey Herzog, Cardinals, 1985: The Royals were already on their way to an 11-0 blowout, but Herzog never should have brought in mercurial right-hander Joaquin Andujar in relief. Andujar exploded twice at home-plate umpire Don Denkinger, leading to him and Herzog getting ejected in an embarrassing meltdown.
Managerial strokes of genius
1. Walter Alston, Dodgers, 1965: Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale? Alston chose Koufax on two days' rest over the more rested Drysdale and Koufax pitched a three-hit shutout.
2. Tom Kelly, Twins, 1991: He left Morris in for a 10th inning. It worked out.
3. Alston, Dodgers, 1955: Leading 2-0 in the sixth, he inserted Sandy Amoros into left field and moved Jim Gilliam to second base. In that inning, Amoros made a terrific running catch of Berra's fly ball with two runners on and turned it into a double play.
4. Bucky Harris, Senators, 1924: Fearful of hot-hitting Billy Terry, who platooned at first base for the Giants, Harris started right-hander Curly Ogden (putting Terry in the starting lineup), but removed Ogden after two batters for left-hander George Mogridge. Terry went 0-for-2 against Mogridge before John McGraw finally removed him for a pinch-hitter, meaning he was out of the game as the Senators later went to right-handers in a 12-inning game.
5. Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals, 1926: Pete Alexander wasn't expecting to pitch in Game 7 after throwing a complete-game win in Game 6, but Hornsby brought him in with the Cardinals leading 3-2 and the bases loaded in the seventh. He struck out Tony Lazzeri and went the rest of the way for the save.
The roll call: Ten greatest Game 7s
10. 1962: New York Yankees 1, at San Francisco Giants 0. The Giants had runners at second and third with two outs (Roger Maris had made a terrific play in right on Willie Mays’ double to hold Felipe Alou at third). Willie McCovey smoked a line drive ... but at second baseman Bobby Richardson. Ralph Terry had the shutout and Charlie Brown later screamed, "Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?"
9. 1975: Cincinnati Reds 4, at Boston Red Sox 3. Not remembered like the Game 6 classic, but a terrific game in its own right. The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the third inning when Don Gullett walked in two runs with the bases loaded. Boston would keep getting runners on, but couldn’t increase its lead; the Sox stranded nine runners and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Tony Perez hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster off Bill Lee’s slow curveball in the sixth, Pete Rose’s two-out single off Roger Moret in the seventh tied it and then Ken Griffey Sr. walked leading off the ninth against rookie Jim Burton and scored on Joe Morgan’s two-out blooper to center.
8. 1997: At Florida Marlins 3, Cleveland Indians 2 (11 innings). Jose Mesa was trying to close out Cleveland’s first World Series title since 1997, but the Marlins tied it on Craig Counsell’s sacrifice fly in the ninth. In the 11th, following Tony Fernandez’s error, Edgar Renteria singled in the winning run with two outs.
7. 1955: Brooklyn Dodgers 2, at New York Yankees 0. The Dodgers finally beat the Yankees and won their only World Series title in Brooklyn as Johnny Podres scattered eight hits. Gil Hodges drove in both runs for Brooklyn, but the game’s key play came in the sixth when left fielder Sandy Amoros -- who had just entered for defense -- made a running catch of Yogi Berra’ fly ball with two runners on and doubled Gil McDougald off first base.
6. 1912: At Boston Red Sox 3, New York Giants 2 (10 innings). The Giants scored once in the top of the 10th but Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson couldn’t hold off the Red Sox. Center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a fly ball to begin the inning, Tris Speaker’s RBI single tied it and then Larry Gardner’s sac fly scored Steve Yerkes with the winning run.
5. 1946: At St. Louis Cardinals 4, Boston Red Sox 3. St. Louis led 3-1 in the eighth but Dom DiMaggio's two-run double tied it. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Harry Walker doubled to score Enos Slaughter ahead of the relay throw from shortstop Johnny Pesky (who might have hesitated slightly), the play becoming known as "Slaughter's Mad Dash."
4. 1924: At Washington Senators 4, Pittsburgh Pirates 3 (12 innings). Long the laughingstock of the American League, the Senators had finally reached the World Series in the twilight of the great Walter Johnson's career. But he had lost Games 1 and 5. The Giants led 3-1 in the eighth when Bucky Harris tied it with a two-out, two-run single. Johnson then entered in the ninth and pitched four scoreless innings. The Senators finally pushed across the winning run when Earl McNeely's grounder took a bad hop over the glove of third baseman Fred Lindstrom.
3. 2001: At Arizona Diamondbacks 3, New York Yankees 2. Curt Schilling versus Roger Clemens. Randy Johnson on in relief. And then two runs in the bottom off the ninth off the supposedly untouchable Mariano Rivera.
2. 1991: At Minnesota Twins 1, Atlanta Braves 0 (10 innings). This game featured much more than Jack Morris’ brilliant 10-inning shutout. John Smoltz dueled Morris into the eighth. The Braves loaded the bases in the eighth (with Lonnie Smith famously not scoring on a double after getting deked by Chuck Knoblauch). The Twins got the first two runners on in the ninth and failed to score. Finally, Dan Gladden doubled in the 10th, hustling into second when the ball bounded high off the Metrodome turf, and would score on Gene Larkin’s hit. A tension-filled classic to cap off maybe the most exciting World Series ever played.
1. 1960: At Pittsburgh Pirates 10, New York Yankees 9. In my book, the most exciting baseball game ever played. The Yankees led 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth, but the Pirates scored five runs. The Yankees tied in the top of the ninth. Bill Mazeroski won it with the only walk-off home run in Game 7 history. (Click here for an in-depth look at this game.)
It might be difficult for tonight's game to crack that top-10 list, but the way this World Series gone, I wouldn't bet against it.
Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for their help on this piece.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.
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