The Yankees have had some great pitching performances over the years
As the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees have been the beneficiaries of some outstanding pitching performances over the years.
From Waite Hoyt to Whitey Ford to Ron Guidry to Mike Mussina to Mariano Rivera, the "Bombers" have had an embarrassment of riches on the mound. Those pitchers have helped define the rich history of the organization.
This article will take a look at the six best pitching performances in Yankees history, while keeping in mind that to list all the great moments on the mound for the team would be an insurmountable task.
July 4th is a special day for the New York Yankees. In addition to it being this country's Independence Day, it was the birthday of George Steinbrenner and the day of Lou Gehrig's famous "Luckiest Man" speech.
It is also the day in 1983 that the team had its sixth-greatest pitching performance.
Before Dave Righetti became known as a great relief pitcher, he was a dynamic starter for the Yankees. As a member of the rotation, "Rags" had a 33-23 record with a 3.23 ERA.
The fact that he threw a no-hitter on July 4th is special, but what made it one of the great performances in club history is that it came against the team's hated rival Boston, and it was hurled in Yankees Stadium.
What better way is there to celebrate being a Yankee on Independence Day than to beat the Red Sox and not yield a single hit?
As a lifelong New York Yankees fan, David Wells reached the pinnacle of his dreams on May 17, 1998 when he hurled the 15th perfect game in MLB history.
For a man who once tried to wear an authentic Babe Ruth cap in a game, this represented the fifth-greatest Yankees pitching performance.
The 11 strikeout performance came at the expense of the Minnesota Twins and was a part of perhaps the Yankees greatest season.
Wells would go on to finish the year 18-4 and 4-0 in the post season while helping the team to a then-record 114 wins.
David Cone's career is littered with numerous great moments. With a Cy Young in 1994 and World Series championships in 1992 (with Toronto) and 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 in pinstripes, one would be hard-pressed to determine his best moment.
Until one looks at July 18, 1999.
On that day Cone tossed the third perfect game in Yankees history.
The victory came against the Montreal Expos and was made more special by the fact that Yogi Berra and Don Larsen were the battery for the ceremonial first pitch. Forty-three years earlier they had been part of the only perfect game in World Series history.
Cone would finish the year 12-9 and go 2-0 with a 1.28 ERA in the post season.
1978 was a very special season for the New York Yankees and Ron Guidry.
That year the Yankees would win their second consecutive World Series title, and along the way, Guidry would put in one of the greatest seasons by a pitcher in the history of baseball.
The regular season saw "Louisiana Lightning" go 25-3 with a 1.78 ERA and nine shutouts. He would win the Cy Young award and be the winning pitcher in the historic one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox.
No game better defined Guidry's season than the one he threw on June 17th. In that game the beloved southpaw would strike out 18 Angels hitters, setting a Yankees record and starting the tradition of Yankees faithful standing and clapping when one of their pitchers has two strikes on a batter.
In Yankees lore, Ron Guidry stands as one of the two best left-handed pitchers the team has ever had. This game in 1978 is one of the reasons why.
The debate as to who is the New York Yankees' greatest starting pitcher is usually a short one and concludes with the name Whitey Ford.
In his 16-year career—spent entirely with the Yankees—Ford amassed a 236-106 record and a 2.75 ERA. In that time he won a Cy Young award and was named the MVP of the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Ford's 1961 season is one of the greatest in Yankees history, but often goes unnoticed because of the famous home run duel between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. That year, the "Chairman of the Board" went 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA.
In Game 1 of the 1961 series Ford posted one of the greatest performances by a "Bombers" hurler.
In that contest the southpaw threw a complete game shutout, striking out six and yielding just two hits and one walk. It set the tone for the series, and the Yankees would take the title in five games (with Ford also holding the Reds scoreless through five innings of work in Game 4).
While there have been other great lefties to don a Yankees uniform (Ron Guidry comes to mind), none enjoyed the prolonged success that Whitey did and none helped to define an era in baseball more than Ford.
In deciding where to rank the greatest pitching performances in Yankees history there was never a question as to what game would be No. 1.
The 1956 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees was knotted at two games apiece entering the pivotal fifth game. The Yankees began the series losing the first two games to their crosstown rivals, but bounced back to win Games 3 and 4.
As with most seven-game series, Game 5 would give the winner a clear advantage in their quest to win the title.
Enter Don Larsen.
Over five years with the Yankees, Larsen went 45-24 with a 3.50 ERA, but it was Game 5 that would forever define him as a player.
Saving the perfect moment to throw a perfect game, Larsen was literally untouchable as he struck out seven while sending 27 consecutive Dodgers back to the bench.
The game would help the Yankees to another World Championship as they won it in seven games.
It remains the only perfect game thrown in a World Series.
All statistics referenced in this article can be found at http://www.baseball-reference.com