Roy Halladay's no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS is without question the greatest starting performance in Phillies' playoff history. But it certainly isn't the only great one.
Here are the 10 best postseason starting pitching performances in Phillies' history.
Keep in mind that the following rankings are not just based on the excellence of the pitching line itself, but also on the relative magnitude of the game in which the performance came (basically, World Series performances counts for extra).
Enjoy this trip through Phillies' history!
Not an official playoff game. In order to win the NL East the Phillies had to take two of three from the Expos in Montreal on the final weekend of the season.
Seventeen-game winner Dick Ruthven pitched the Phillies to a 2-1 victory in the series opener. He was neither dominant nor particularly impressive, but he buckled down with men on base and held the Expos to one run.
The Phillies clinched the division with a victory the following day en route to an eventual World Series win. Ruthven’s gritty effort put the Phillies on the track for history.
5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
The 1950 “Whizz Kids” led the high-powered Brooklyn team by one game entering the season finale at Ebbets Field.
If the Phillies won that day, they’d advance to the World Series for the first time in 35 years. If the Dodgers won, the two teams would have to play a one-game playoff to determine the NL winner the following afternoon.
Dick Sisler was the game’s hero when he cracked a 10th-inning three-run homer to lead the Phillies to a 4-1 win.
But Roberts pitched pretty, pretty well too...
The Phillies won the NL that day behind Robert’s 20th victory of the season, marking the first of six straight 20-win seasons for the Phillies' ace.
10 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
The heavy underdog Phillies evened the series at 2-2 when Danny Jackson pitched the game of his life in a 2-1 Game 4 victory in Atlanta. The following afternoon, Curt Schilling toyed with the potent Braves’ lineup for the second time in five days.
Schill took a 3-0 lead through eight before running into trouble in the ninth, where the Braves eventually tied the game off Mitch Williams. The Phillies won the game anyway when Lenny “Nails” I mean “Needles” Dykstra homered in the 10th.
The Phils clinched the pennant two nights later at Veterans Stadium and Schilling was awarded NLCS MVP (despite pitching to two no decisions).
8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K
I don’t know about you, but last year I got pretty tired of hearing people say that Hamels’ was only good during a five-start stretch in October 2008.
Simply not true
Cole had one hell of a season in ’08. He led the NL in WHIP (1.08) and finished second in innings pitched (227 2/3), sixth in strikeouts (196), tied for fifth in ERA (3.09).
So why was his record just 14-10 during the season? Well, it probably had something to do with the fact that he pitched 10 games during ‘08 in which he gave up two earned runs or less and DID NOT get a win. 10!!!
Yeah, Cole was damn good during the regular season. But by the time the postseason arrived, he was otherworldly.
Talk about setting the tone in the playoff opener…
8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Speaking of setting the tone...
During the season Cliff Lee won his first five starts with the Phillies, allowing just three runs in 40 innings. Then out of nowhere he hit a wall in September.
But after posting a 5.45 ERA during the season’s final month, Lee flipped himself back into overdrive once October came calling. Lee began with a complete-game against a Rockies team that had the second-best record in MLB from early June onwards.
Still, little did we know that Cliff was on his way to one of the greatest stretches of any pitcher in postseason history.
9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Fresh after being named NLCS MVP, Cole opened up the World Series with another brilliant performance. This time, he did it on the road in the opening game against a Rays team that had been baseball’s best home record.
Hamels’ continually made his best pitches at the game’s biggest moments, and his 3-2 victory in Game 1 ultimately helped the Phillies wrap up the World Series title at home in five games. He was awarded World Series MVP.
7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
As good as Mr. Hamels was in his World Series opener at Tampa Bay, John Denny was even better in Game 1 of the 1983 Fall Classic at Baltimore.
Denny, the NL’s CY Young winner during the season, won the game 2-1 thanks to homers by Joe Morgan and Garry Maddox.
The "Wheeze Kids" lost the next four games to drop the World Series in five, as their offense scored a grand total of nine runs against Baltimore pitching during the series.
7 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
The Phillies reached the World Series for the first time in franchise history, as Alexander enjoyed one of the greatest seasons of any pitcher in MLB history (31-10, 1.22 ERA).
What could he possibly do for an encore in the World Series opener?
How about pitching a complete-game, 3-1, win against a Red Sox club that had gone 101-50 during the year.
The Sox rebounded to beat the Phillies four straight, each time by a single run. It would take the Phillies 65, long years to win another World Series game.
9 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
For nearly a decade, each day Steve Carlton pitched for the Phillies was known as “win day.”
Fittingly, the ultimate “win day” came on October 21, 1980, as the Phillies secured their first World Series championship in the 97-year history of the franchise behind Carlton’s 4-1 victory over the Royals at Veterans Stadium.
Carlton had needed 159 pitches to get the Phillies a win in Game 2. Six days later, he only needed 110 to guide the Phils to their most important win in team history.
All told, “Lefty” threw over 330 innings during the ’80 season and postseason, and of course, “The Tugger” came on in the ninth to close the deal…
7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
The Phils were trailing the defending World Champion Blue Jays 3-1 in the series and still reeling from one of the worst losses in Philadelphia sports history the night before.
Everyone (the team, the fans, the whole city) needed Curt Schilling to come up big.
Curt Schilling came up big, delivering a complete-game shutout and perhaps the most clutch performance in the 33-year history of the place they once called the Vet.
Fifteen years later, Schill retired with an 11-2 record and a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts, plus three World Series titles.
Can’t wait to see you in Cooperstown in a few years, Curt.
9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K...
and 147 pitches.
Who: Cliff Lee. Duh, who else?
What: Sheer, indescribable brilliance against professional sports’ most-universally hated team.
When: Game 1, matched up against a $161-million, 290-lb blob wearing pinstriped panjamas on the mound.
Where: The New Yankee Stadium, aka the ridiculous launching pad where the home team had gone 56-17 since early May.
Why: Because the New York Yankees are Cliff Lee’s ______ (fit in whatever unflattering word you want to use).
On this night, there was no “A-bomb,” no “Tex Message," and no “Melk-Man.” None of that.
There was just Cliff Lee (and Chase Utley too).
“Oh my goodness gracious!!!”
9 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
A no-hitter in the playoffs: enough said.
The man who will soon be awarded the 2010 NL Cy Young now has the second-best starting pitching performance in MLB postseason history to his credit.
Funny. About six years ago I seem to remember hearing rumblings that the Phillies would never be able to acquire good pitchers since no good pitcher would ever want to pitch in Citizens Bank Park.
Ahm, Pete Rose and John Smoltz, it’s OK. We all make mistakes. All of us except for Mr. Halladay, anyway. He’s pretty much perfect.
9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K