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The greatest pitching performances in World Series history

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October 23rd, 2020

The 2020 World Series has been a good one so far, but we’ve yet to see an all-time performance by any one pitcher for either the Dodgers or the Rays. Let’s look back at the top five single-game pitching performances in World Series history.

5. Bob Gibson’s final World Series shutout (Game 1, 1968)

Bob Gibson was a force to be reckoned with in World Series play, producing a 1.89 ERA over 81 innings. Highlights include his complete-game 10-inning victory over the Yankees in 1964, and his Game 4 shutout against the Red Sox in 1967. His Cardinals won both of those series. But the one they did not win with Gibson on the roster in 1968 yielded the Hall of Famer’s best individual performance.

In the opening game of the 1968 World Series against the Tigers, Gibson scattered five hits and a walk while striking out 17 in his team’s 2-0 victory.

4. Madison Bumgarner’s World Series-winning relief outing (Game 7, 2014)

Many second-guessed Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s decision to save Madison Bumgarner for Game 5 rather than start him in Games 1, 4 and 7. But what the masses did not realize is that Bochy was planning to use Bumgarner in relief in Game 7, on two days’ rest. No one could have anticipated just how well "MadBum" would do in that series-winning appearance.

Bumgarner pitched the final five innings of the 2014 World Series, shutting out the Royals while allowing just two hits.

3. Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout (Game 7, 1991)

Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was a classic pitcher’s duel, but while the Braves’ John Smoltz was lifted after 7 1/3 innings, the Twins’ Jack Morris kept on going.

Morris threw a 10-inning shutout, scattering seven hits and a pair of walks while striking out eight. Minnesota would finally plate the only run of the game in the bottom of the 10th inning.

"I said when we got [Morris] that he was a horse," Twins pitching coach Dick Such told reporters afterward. "Tonight, he was a race horse, a thoroughbred."

2. Sandy Koufax’s short-rest shutout (Game 7, 1965)

All-time Dodger great Sandy Koufax controversially refused to pitch in Game 1 of the Fall Classic in 1965 because it fell on Yom Kippur, one of the high holy days on the Jewish calendar. The eventual World Series MVP quickly quieted his critics with a quality start in Game 2, followed by a shutout in Game 5.

The coup de grace for Koufax was his masterful Game 7 shutout on two days’ rest, in which he held the Twins to three hits and three walks while striking out 10 in a narrow 2-0 victory.

1. Don Larsen’s perfect game (Game 5, 1956)

Don Larsen had an unremarkable 14-year career, going 81-91 with a 3.78 ERA. But on Oct. 8, 1956, he was untouchable.

Larsen threw the only perfect game in postseason history when he silenced the defending-champion Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series. The lineup he faced included Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and Roy Campanella.

The Yankees would go on to win the World Series in Game 7, with Larsen taking home the MVP Award. 

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