Ranking the Greatest Pitching Performances in Cincinnati Reds History
For the Cincinnati Reds, history has always been about its offensive juggernauts.
The Big Red Machine era holds the club's most famous core of players. However, it might be harder for the casual fan to name half the starting rotation in 1975 rather than its starting lineup.
Even though the Reds are rich in history with defensive and well-hitting Hall of Famers, there were outstanding pitching moments for the oldest baseball team in the MLB.
Not a single retired Reds number belongs to a pitcher, but that doesn’t mean the Reds ever lacked legendary hurlers.
Ranking from least to most impressive, here are the top five single-game pitching performances in Cincinnati Reds history.
All statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
This slide could be endless with famous pitching moments for the Cincinnati Reds. However, there are few that stick out and should be mentioned.
Tom Seaver’s No-Hitter (6/16/1978)
The Cincinnati Reds have never had a pitcher win the Cy Young Award while in a Reds uniform.
Seaver never recorded a no-hitter with the Mets, but did take two no-hitters into the ninth inning before being broken.
Seaver walked three and struck out three in his only no-hitter as a Red. Half of the St. Louis Cardinals batters faced that day grounded out and only one pop-up was recorded.
Aroldis Chapman 105.1 MPH Fastball (9/24/2010)
According to pitch FX, Aroldis Chapman has the fastest pitch ever recorded in the MLB at 105.1 mph.
Homer Bailey No-Hitter (9/28/2012)
While there have been 15 no-hitters in Reds history, Homer Bailey broke the longest drought between them. It took 24 years for the Reds to see another no-no when Bailey threw his gem in 2012.
He threw 115 pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a career-high 10 strikeouts in the game. He only walked one batter the entire night.
Bailey pitched one more four-inning game before starting the playoffs.
Bailey could easily be on this list again for his 2012 Game 3 NLDS performance.
Not only did he take a postseason no-hitter into the sixth inning, but he also broke the Reds record for most strikeouts in a postseason game with 10 punch-outs.
5. Bronson Arroyo, NLDS Game 2 (10/7/12)
Some might find it hard to believe Bronson Arroyo will go down with one of the best postseason pitching performances by a Cincinnati Red.
If you’re in that column, please continue to read.
Game 2 of the NLDS was a pivotal game in the series. The Reds had to prove their pitching staff could go without their ace Johnny Cueto after losing him in Game 1.
After a dramatic win in Game 1, Arroyo took the ball and simply dominated the soon-to-be world champs in Game 2.
Arroyo went seven innings, giving up just one hit with four strikeouts and one walk. Arroyo took a no-hitter into the sixth before giving up his only hit of the night.
The Reds offense was unstoppable and put a thrashing on the San Francisco Giants in their own park.
It seemed like the Reds were sure to advance, but baseball has that funny way of completely knocking you off your feet when you least expect it.
It’s mostly sad the Reds haven’t been able to see Arroyo pitch past an NLDS game.
4. Bucky Walters, World Series Game 6 (10/7/1940)
Even though the World Series MVP voting didn’t start until 1955, Bucky Walters would’ve been a top candidate for the award in 1940.
The Detroit Tigers had a potent offense with Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg.
The Tigers were up three to two in the series after Bob Newsom pitched in honor of his father’s death in Game 5 of the World Series.
Newsom’s father passed away in a Cincinnati hotel after watching his son win Game 1 at Crosley Field.
The Reds seemed to be doomed until Walters pitched his second complete game in the World Series.
But this time, Walters didn’t allow a single run. He struck out two, walked two and gave up five hits in the complete game, 4-0 shutout win.
Not only did Walters pitch one hell of a game, he also hit a home run.
The win forced a Game 7 in Cincinnati and the Reds took the win with a late rally in the seventh inning against Newsom.
3. Tom Browning, Perfect Game (9/16/1988)
The only perfect game in Reds history belongs to Mr. Perfect himself—Tom Browning.
Arguably one of Browning’s best seasons, he gave the Reds fans at Riverfront Stadium a night to remember.
The southpaw threw 101 pitches while striking out seven batters, becoming the 10th pitcher to ever throw a perfect game.
Out of the 101 pitches, Browning threw 72 for strikes and quickly dismantled the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2. Jose Rijo, World Series Game 4 (10/20/1990)
While on paper it looked like the Reds took care of the Oakland Athletics with ease in 1990, the Reds wanted nothing more than to end the series in Game 4.
Quickly, the Reds had injuries to outfielder Eric Davis and Billy Hatcher. Hatcher was killing the ball in the playoffs, and losing him on top of Davis was devastating.
After winning Game 1 of the World Series, it was up to Rijo to close out the series.
Rijo went 8.1 innings, allowing only two hits and one earned run. The Reds only needed two runs to win the game, and Rijo kept the Oakland powerhouse at bay.
He tied the Reds record with nine strikeouts in a postseason game. Only Hod Eller did the same in the controversial 1919 World Series Game 5 against the Chicago Black Sox.
The unbelievable pitching performances of Game 1 and Game 2 earned the Dominican MVP honors for the 1990 World Series.
Jose Rijo became the second Dominican to ever win the World Series MVP award.
1. Johnny Vander Meer’s Back-to-Back No-Hitter (6/11/1938 and 6/15/1938)
The No. 1 greatest Reds pitching performance might also be the hardest MLB record to ever break.
On June 11, Vander Meer threw his first no-hitter with four strikeouts and three walks in a 3-0 victory over the Boston Bees (more notoriously the Boston Braves).
On June 15, his very next outing, Vander Meer threw his second no-hitter. He struck out seven with eight walks in a 6-0 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Vander Meer is still the only player to pitch back-to-back no-hitters. Even in his next outing on June 19, the Boston Bees only got four hits and one run in a 14-1 loss against the Reds.
Johnny Vander Meer would eventually be the league’s strikeout champion three years in a row from 1941-1943.