MLB Playoffs: Justin Verlander Can't Lose? Neither Could These Five Who Did
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander is going to face the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Comerica Park.
The Yankees have not been able to score a single run off of any Tigers pitcher not named Jose Valverde. In fact, their offense has been non existent in the postseason against any Baltimore or Detroit pitcher other than the closers.
What chance do the sputtering bats have against the league's best pitcher, Justin Verlander? Game 3 is as much of a lock for the Tigers as a team could get. There is no way Verlander could lose.
Or maybe he could.
There have been several instances where a pitcher even more dominant than Verlander faced an easy foe in the postseason. And in each of these five instances, the unbeatable pitcher was beaten.
Do not get cocky, Tigers fans. There are precedents for even bigger upsets in October.
Chief Bender, Philadelphia Athletics: 1914 World Series Game 1
The Boston Braves stormed into the World Series with a worst to first August rally, but now had to face the defending World Champion Athletics and their future Hall of Fame ace starting Game 1.
It wasn't supposed to be close, and it wasn't. Except it was the Braves, led by Hank Gowdy, Rabbit Maranville and pitcher Dick Rudolph who rolled, 7-1.
The Miracle Braves would stun the Athletics with a four game sweep.
Walter Johnson, Washington Senators: 1925 World Series Game 7
Arguably the greatest pitcher of all time finally got his shot to pitch in the World Series in 1924. He got his jitters out by losing two games but winning Game 7 out of the bullpen.
In 1925, the Big Train was rolling for the repeat, winning Games 1 and 4. When the Pirates forced Game 7, it was no problem. Johnson was rested and ready.
Washington gave him a four-run cushion before he even took the mound and the World Series was a foregone conclusion. But the Pirates kept battling and in the 8th inning, Kiki Kuyler doubled home the go ahead run. The 9-7 win was saved by Red Oldham and the Pirates were champions.
Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers: 1966 World Series Game 2
Koufax was one of the most dominating forces in baseball history in the mid 1960s and rose to the occasion in the World Series, winning the MVP in the 1963 and 1965 Series. When the Orioles roughed up Don Drysdale in Game 1 of the Series, there was no panic in Los Angeles; Koufax was going to take the hill.
For the first four innings, it was vintage Koufax. But the Dodger defense betrayed him, committing six errors.
Koufax lasted only six innings in the 6-0 loss, which turned out to be his final game. Future Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer got the win.
Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals: 1968 World Series Game 7
Bob Gibson had already won two World Series MVPs, but the 1968 series was looking like his masterpiece. He struck out 17 in the opening shutout and threw another complete game win in Game 4—his 7th straight complete game World Series win.
In Game 7, he was throwing a one-hit shutout into the 7th when Curt Flood slipped and couldn't catch Jim Northrup's two-out fly ball which turned into an RBI triple.
The Cardinals wouldn't recover and the Tigers won the game 4-1 to clinch the series.
Dave Stewart, Oakland Athletics: 1990 World Series Game 1
The A's and Dave Stewart learned their lesson after losing the 1988 World Series to the Dodgers. They were 12-1 in the 1989 ALCS and World Series and 1990 ALCS combined. Dave Stewart was even the MVP of the '89 World Series and '90 ALCS. He was unquestionably the best big game pitcher in baseball.
He took the mound against the Reds ready to dispatch of them quickly to give Oakland back-to-back titles. Eric Davis had other ideas, homering off of Stewart in the first inning.
Stewart lasted only four innings and the Reds won 7-0. Stewart would regain his stuff for Game 4 but still lost, 2-1, as it was the Reds who pulled off the sweep.