Roy Halladay, Don Larsen and the Greatest Postseason Pitching Performances Ever
Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter in his first career postseason appearance to solidify a spot in the annals of Major League Baseball history Wednesday night.
The Phillies rode their ace to an easy 4-0 win over the Reds to take Game 1 of the NLDS in Philadelphia.
Incredibly, Halladay needed just over 100 pitches to shut down Joey Votto and Cincinnati’s bats.
The no-hitter was just the second ever in the Major League Baseball postseason and the first since Don Larsen’s epic perfect game in 1956 for the New York Yankees.
Here’s a look at the 10 best postseason pitching performances in baseball history.
No. 10: Bobby Jones, New York Mets, 2000
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Jones hurled what might go down as the most unlikely one-hit shutout in Major League Baseball history against the San Francisco Giants in the 2000 NLDS.
He was a surprise starter despite posting a wretched 5.06 ERA during the regular season.
Jones started the series-clinching Game 4 and promptly shut down a Giants offense featuring the likes of Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds.
The soft-tossing righty was out of baseball by 2002.
No. 9: Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox, 2004
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The infamous bloody sock personified the Red Sox historic rally past the Yankees and ensured Schilling’s place as one of the more polarizing figures to ever play in the Major Leagues.
His injured ankle tendons required constant strengthening procedures, and exposed him to great risk on the mound.
However, when the bloody sock resurfaced in the World Series against the Cardinals, rumors spread that Schilling was embellishing his condition to get attention.
No. 8: Jason Schmidt, San Francisco Giants, 2003
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Before arm problems derailed his career, Schmidt had plenty of dominant performances.
One of his best came in 2003, when he pitched a two-hit shutout to help the Giants beat Josh Beckett and the Marlins in Game 1 of the NLDS.
The Giants went on to lose the series to Miguel Cabrera and the upstart Marlins, but Schmidt certainly did his part.
No. 7: Whitey Ford, New York Yankees, 1960
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Sure, the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series, but it wasn’t Whitey Ford’s fault.
Ford pitched two complete game shutouts against the Pirates, and incredibly didn’t allow a base runner to get beyond second base in either start.
No. 6: Sandy Koufax, L.A. Dodgers, 1965
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Although Koufax allowed just two runs in Game 2 of the World Series against the Twins in 1965, he took the loss.
He came back with a vengeance and authored 10-strikeout, complete game shutouts in both Game 5 and Game 7 to lead the Dodgers to victory.
No. 5: Orel Hershiser, L.A. Dodgers, 1988
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The MVP of the 1988 NLCS pitched in four of the seven games between the Mets and the Dodgers.
After the bullpen blew leads in two of the games he started, Hershiser got a win in relief in Game 4 when the Dodgers had no choice but to turn to him in the 12th inning.
He returned to the bump in Game 7, when he pitched a complete-game shutout to carry the Dodgers into the World Series.
No. 4: Jack Morris, Minnesota Twins, 1991
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Morris outlasted John Smoltz in arguably the greatest pitchers duel in Major League Baseball postseason history in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Refusing to come out of the game despite running on fumes, Morris took the ball in the 10th inning and retired the Braves in order.
The Twins scored in the bottom of the 10th, but if they hadn’t, Morris probably would have run out to the mound again.
No. 3: Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals, 1967
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Gibson didn’t just have one strong game in the 1967 World Series, he had three.
He capped off a dominant performance against the Red Sox by hitting a home run while pitching his third complete game in Game 7 to lead the Cards to the World Series win.
One of the best big-game pitchers in Major League Baseball history was an easy choice as the World Series Most Valuable Player.
No. 2: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies, 2010
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Halladay used all of his pitches and pounded the strike zone all night, keeping the Reds off balance.
He became the first pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same season since Nolan Ryan in 1973, and kept his composure all night long.
Only a two-out walk to Reds’ right fielder Jay Bruce kept Halladay from throwing a perfect game in his first ever postseason start.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz made a sliding play in front of the plate on a dribbler to throw out the speedy Brandon Phillips for the game's final out to preserve Halladay’s gem.
No. 1: Don Larsen, New York Yankees, 1956
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Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series was a surprise to many, especially considering he wasn’t even considered a lock to start the game.
The Brooklyn Dodgers had knocked him out early of his start in Game 2, and no one knew what to expect from Larsen.
The Yankees took an early lead and tension didn’t begin to mount until the later innings.
Larsen coped with the situation by taking a cigarette break during the seventh inning stretch and fought off playoff jabs from teammate Mickey Mantle.
With a young Vin Scully on the call, Larsen retired Dale Mitchell on a called third strike to complete the greatest performance in the postseason history of Major League Baseball.