Power Ranking: 10 Best Non-No-Hitter Pitching Performances of All Time
Accomplished by Don Larsen during the 1956 World Series, there has only been one perfect game and zero no-hitters in MLB playoff history.
This season alone, we have seen Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson both throw no-hitters, and have been in awe of Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay as they joined the elusive club of throwing perfect games.
Although 20 pitchers in baseball history have been perfect, some of the greatest pitched games were not necessarily no-hitters or perfect games.
The time has come for these pitchers to get their recognition, as I present "The 10 Best Non-No-Hitter Pitching Performances of All Time."
These are the best pitching performances ever without the distinction of a no-hitter.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Let's play ball.
10. Curt Schilling vs. New York Yankees (October 19, 2004)
Stat Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
When looking at Curt Schilling's stats in Game Six of the 2000 ALCS, by no means, was this the greatest or most dominating pitching performance of all time.
But since greatness is not only defined by the number of strikeouts a pitcher records, or the number of batters he walks, on this night, Schilling was brilliant.
With the Boston Red Sox trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, Schilling took the mound following a procedure to aid his ailing right ankle.
With a sock soaked with blood from the sutures used in the medical procedure, Schilling had one of greatest pitching performances in MLB playoff history. He pitched seven strong innings, giving up one run on four hits and striking out four.
Schilling's Game Six performance allowed the Red Sox to even the series at three games apiece. In Game Seven, the Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees 10–3 to become the first team in Major League Baseball history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games.
Schilling's gutsy and courageous performance will never be forgotten, and will always be remembered as one of the best.
9. Pedro Martinez vs. San Diego Padres (June 3, 1995)
Stat Line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO
Prior to the New York Yankees becoming his daddy, it was with the Montreal Expos that Pedro Martinez had become one of the top pitchers in baseball, and he proved that during an almost perfect game against the San Diego Padres.
Martinez had pitched nine perfect innings, and all signs were pointing towards a perfect game.
But heading into the bottom of the 10th inning, with a perfect game intact, Martinez gave up a lead-off double to Bip Roberts. Manager Felipe Alou immediately removed him from the game, but Martinez was the winning pitcher on record in Montreal's 1–0 victory.
Although this wasn't one of Martinez's most dominant games, this might have been one of his best.
8. Harvey Haddix vs. Milwaukee Brewers (May 26, 1959)
Stat Line: 12 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO
Prior to 1991, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Harvey Haddix's near perfect game would have been ineligible for this list, but Major League Baseball changed the definition of a no-hitter to "a game in which a pitcher or pitchers complete a game of nine innings or more without allowing a hit."
Therefore, Haddix will always be remembered for taking a perfect game into the 13th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Braves by retiring 36 consecutive batters in 12 innings.
In the bottom of the 13th, a fielding error by Don Hoak ended the perfect game. With the no-hitter still intact, even after a sacrifice bunt and a walk to Hank Aaron, it apparently all ended when first baseman Joe Adcock belted, what should have been, a three-run home run and the ballgame.
Adcock, however, passed Aaron on the bases and was only credited with a one-run double, and the game officially went into the record books as 1-0 victory for the Braves.
Despite being the losing pitcher on record and not recording either a perfect game or a no-hitter, Haddix's performance is considered by many to be the best pitching performance in major league history.
7. Roger Clemens vs. Seattle Mariners (October 14, 2000)
Stat Line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 15 SO
During the 2000 playoffs, after losing two division series games to the Oakland Athletics, Roger Clemens pitched his most spectacular game in a Yankee uniform in Game Four of the ALCS against the Seattle Mariners.
With the Yankees leading the Mariners 2-1 in the series, Clemens turned in a dominant performance, allowing just a double and two walks while striking out an ALCS record 15 batters and not allowing a runner to reach third base.
If you watched the game on television, you saw how dominant he was. If you were at Safeco Field in Seattle, you were in awe of his performance.
Either way, after the 27th out was recorded, you were a witness to the most dominating pitching performance in postseason history.
6. Mike Mussina vs. Boston Red Sox (September 2, 2001)
Stat Line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO
He never won the Cy Young award or a World Series championship.
He won 20-games just once during his career.
But on September 2, 2001, Mike Mussina was masterful, pitching arguably one of the greatest games in baseball history.
After retiring the first 26 batters, Mussina faced Carl Everett, who was announced as the pinch-hitter for Joe Oliver. Mussina was one strike away from pitching the fourth perfect game in Yankees’ history, and on a one-and-two count, Everett lined a single to left-center, ending Mussina's hopes.
After Everett reached, Trot Nixon then grounded to second ending the game, as Mussina secured the shutout and earned a 1-0 victory over the Red Sox.
Mussina came close to perfection multiple times before, including in 1997 when Mussina had retired the first 25 Indians faced before Sandy Alomar singled in the ninth. Then again in 1998, when Mussina had retired the first 23 Tigers before Frank Catalanatto doubled with two outs in the eighth.
It's a shame he was never perfect, because on this night, "Moose" deserved to be.
He was simply that good.
5. Pedro Martinez vs. New York Yankees (September 10, 1999)
Stat Line: 9 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 17 SO
Pedro Martinez came all so close to throwing the second perfect game of his career when he defeated the New York Yankees 3–1, while both teams were battling for an AL East division title.
Although Martinez came up short of experiencing perfection, his performance was spectacular.
He faced only 28 batters, striking out 17 and walking none, with the only hit of the game coming off the bat of Chili Davis, who connected on a second inning solo home run, eliminating any suspense of a perfecto early on in the game.
Everyone will remember that on this night, Martinez came into Yankee Stadium and manhandled a team that was in the midst of a three-peat, and a team that was becoming a dynasty.
Martinez finished the 1999 season with a record of 23-4, a 2.07 ERA, 313 strikeouts, and was named the Cy Young award winner.
There have been 11 no-hitters thrown at Yankee Stadium, and despite there being an imperfection on Martinez's stat sheet, this is arguably the greatest and most dominant pitching performance that has taken place at Yankee Stadium.
4. Tom Cheney vs. Baltimore Orioles (September 12, 1962)
Stat Line: 16 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 21 SO
Entering the game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Senators were an abysmal 57-92.
Managed by Mickey Vernon, by the time the 1962 season was over, the Senators had recorded their second consecutive 100-loss season, but thanks to Tom Cheney, there was one memorable moment that occurred during the '62 season.
On September 12, Tom Cheney set the MLB record for strikeouts in a regular-season game.
Pitching brilliantly for 16 innings, Chaney only gave up one run while striking out a record 21 Orioles. Cheney had 13 strikeouts through nine innings.
Then, after blowing a pitch past relief pitcher Dick Hall to end the 14th inning, Cheney matched the single game record of 19 strikeouts set by two pitchers, Charlie Sweeney and Hugh Daily, in 1884.
In the 15th inning, Cheney reached that magical number for strikeouts by recording his 20th strikeout of the game, and in the top of the 16th, backup first baseman Bud Zipfel put the Senators ahead with a solo home run.
Now, with the opportunity to get the victory, in the bottom of the 16th, on his 228th pitch, Cheney struck out Dick Williams for his 21st strikeout of the game, and sealed the win for the Senators.
Cheney set an MLB record that may never be broken.
So, when you head to Cooperstown, New York, you will not find his name in the Hall of Fame.
And while he accomplished something that Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Roger Clemens, and Kerry Wood never did, his performance will certainly go down as one of the most impressive pitching performances of all time.
Even more impressive than throwing a perfect game.
3. Carl Hubbell vs. St. Louis Cardinals (July 2, 1933)
Stat Line: 18 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB,12 SO
The 1933 season was Hubbell's greatest year of his career.
He won his first MVP Award and led the Giants to the World Series title.
His numbers: 23-12, 1.66 ERA, 308-plus innings, five saves, and ten shutouts.
And on July 2, he pitched a complete game 18-inning shutout over the Cardinals, allowing just six hits and striking out 12.
He continued his dominance by setting an NL record with 44 straight shutout innings and five of his shutouts were by a 1-0 score.
After looking at Hubbell's stat line, what else is there to say but I wish I was there to see that.
2. Roger Clemens vs. Seattle Mariners (April 29, 1986)
Stat Line: 9 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 20 SO
Coming off right shoulder surgery after going 16-9 with a 3.88 ERA over his first two major league seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Roger Clemens was a question mark heading into the 1986 season.
But after a performance for the ages, Clemens silenced all of the doubters that were wondering if he was going to be able to recover.
When Clemens was still "The Rocket," and before he was headlining the Steroid Era, he became the first pitcher in baseball history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning major league game, against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.
Clemens' performance against the Mariners is certainly one of the most intimidating performances by a pitcher in baseball history.
After this victory, Clemens improved to 4-0 on the season, en route to his first of six Cy Young awards. Clemens finished 24-4 on the season, but there is no doubt, this game was the most impressive performance of the season.
Although Clemens might "mis-remember" how dominant he was in the 80s, I certainly don't.
1. Kerry Wood vs. Houston Astros (May 6, 1998)
Stat Line: 9 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 20 SO
Making his fifth career start, Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood took the mound against the Houston Astros.
At the age of 20 years old, Wood arguably pitched one of the greatest games of all time by striking out 20 batters, tying Roger Clemens' record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game and breaking Bill Gullickson's single-game rookie record of 18 strikeouts in 1980.
Wood also became the first pitcher since Bob Feller in 1936 (at age 17, Feller struck out 17 batters) to strike out their age in one game.
Going 13-6, to go along with a 3.43 ERA, 233 strikeouts, 6.3 H/9 IP, and a remarkable 12.6 SO/9 IP during his rookie season, Wood won the National League Rookie of the Year award.
Unfortunately for the Cubs and Wood, he was never able to live up to the expectations, and could not overcome the multiple injuries he experienced during his career, including undergoing Tommy John surgery in 1999 to repair his right elbow.
Although the fourth overall selection in the 1995 Amateur Draft didn't live up to the hype, this game will go down on as one of the greatest gems of, not only by a rookie, but certainly, all time.