World Series 2010: Cliff Lee Vs. Tim Lincecum and the Top 10 WS Matchups Ever
Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee will kick off the 2010 World Series at AT&T Park on Wednesday night—the matchup everyone wanted and expected to see was officially greenlit when San Francisco Giants' manager Bruce Bochy announced the Freak would get Game 1.
Cliff Lee, cooling his heels since his October 18th start in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, was tabbed as the Texas Rangers' go-to guy the minute his mates eliminated the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS.
When the lefty with pinpoint control and the diminutive right-handed fireballer take the mound against each other, they'll carry with them three of the last four Cy Young awards and a set of dominant '10 playoff performances.
Lee has yet to whiff less than 10 batters in a start this postseason and has posted the following line—3 GS, 3 W, 24 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 34 K, a 0.58 WHIP, and a 0.75 ERA.
Not only that, he's done it in 16 frames against the Tampa Bay Rays and eight versus the New York Yankees.
The Franchise hasn't been quite as nifty, but consider that this is Lincecum's first playoff rodeo and he's still a relatively green 26 years of age (by comparison, Lee is 32). Placed in context his nine-inning masterpiece against the Atlanta Braves in his debut is all the more dazzling (9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K).
Timmy then outdueled Roy Hallladay twice—14 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 15 K versus 13 IP, 14 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, and an injured groin—to lead the successful insurgency against the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
If these two elite twirlers pitch to their reputations and recent exploits in Game 1, they could easily wind up on this list.
Until then, however, here is the list of the top 10 World Series matchups in the history of Major League Baseball:
No. 10: Johnny Sain Vs. Bob Feller in Game 1 of the 1948 World Series
Sain—9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, and a win
Feller—8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, and a loss
Only two men make appearances on this list and yet will never be enshrined in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Johnny Sain is one of them.
The less decorated and right-handed half of "Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain," Johnny was no slouch. In 1948, he proved it to any skeptics. He finished second in the NL Most Valuable Player voting (his second top five finish in three years) while leading the Senior Circuit with 314.2 innings pitched, 24 wins, and 28 complete games in 39 starts.
And then made his postseason debut against Bob Feller, who had already established himself as an all-time great and future Hall of Famer.
Feller and the Cleveland Indians took the Fall Classic in six games, but in Game 1, it was all Sain and the Boston Braves.
The right-hander kept the Tribe off the board all game and Feller matched him doughnut for doughnut until issuing two of his free passes (one of which was intentional) in the eighth inning. Tommy Holmes would plate the only run of the ball game with a single and Sain did the rest.
No. 9: Jack Coombs Vs. Christy Mathewson in Game 3 of the 1911 World Series
Coombs—11 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, and a win
Mathewson—11 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, and a loss
Say hello to Jack Coombs, your second and last non-Hall of Famer to make the countdown.
Though his bust isn't in Cooperstown, like Sain, Colby Jack was no slouch.
In 1910, the right-hander led the American League with 31 wins, 14 shutouts, and managed to throw 353 innings without surrendering a home run. Even in the Dead Ball Era, that's whistle-worthy. Coombs also won three games in the 1910 World Series as the Philadelphia Athletics bested the Chicago Cubs in five games, beating Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown twice in the process.
In other words, his date with the New York Giants' Christy Mathewson—firmly established as the gold standard in the art of confounding professional hitters—in Game 3 of the 1911 World Series would've been can't-miss television if the idiot box existed back then.
Neither stallion disappointed.
Coombs got the win when the A's took advantage of two errors, the last of five made by the Gints on the day, in the top of the 11th to push across two runs to take a 3-1 edge. Philly returned half the favor by gifting NY an unearned run in the bottom of the frame, but the charity stopped at one.
No. 8: Jack Morris Vs. John Smoltz in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Morris: 10 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, and a win
Smoltz: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, and a no-decision
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jack Morris isn't in the Hall of Fame for reasons that remain unclear to me.
One of the best big-game pitchers to toe the slab wasn't a day-to-day chump by any means. The snarling right-hander finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting seven times over his 18-season career while tallying 254 career wins and 11 complete games during an average 162-game season.
While pitching for the Minnesota Twins against the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Morris put on perhaps the greatest pitching performance the Steroid Era and its immediate neighbors have ever seen and will ever witness.
The only blemish on this gem is the fact that John Smoltz was just beginning his Hall of Fame journey. Though Smoltzie is almost certainly a first-ball entrant to Cooperstown, he was playing just his third full year in the Show.
Nevertheless, the anticipation for a Game 7 is always high and the arms on the bump only pushed it higher. As the aces played dueling zeros on the scoreboard, the strain seemed to be wearing on everyone—the players, the Metrodome crowd, the television audience, etc.—except Morris.
The four-time World Series champ just kept mowing down Bravos on his way to the win, another ring, and MVP honors.
No. 7: Roger Clemens Vs. Curt Schilling in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Schilling—7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, and a no decision
Clemens—6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, and a no decision
At the height of the Steroid Era, two of its least likable figures gave even their detractors reason to applaud if only for one night.
Though Roger Clemens almost certainly was one of the chemically enhanced and Curt Schilling is a donkey of epic proportions, both men found nothing but praise after their performances on the Bank One Ballpark bump.
Neither right-hander figured in the decision as both were sent to the showers long before Luis Gonzalez blooped home the winning run off Mariano Rivera, but each helped set the superlative tone that was so apropos for the finale of such an incredible Fall Classic.
The Rocket was slightly better for his New York Yankees, but Schilling gave his Arizona Diamondbacks more innings so it seems appropriate both left the mound with no decisions.
There really wasn't a loser between the two of them.
No. 6: Christy Mathewson Vs. Chief Bender in Game 5 of the 1905 World Series
Mathewson—9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, and a win
Bender—8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, and a loss
You're about to get really sick of the name Christy Mathewson.
Some may say there is a better big game pitcher tucked somewhere in the annals of the game, but Mathewson gets my vote until further notice.
His second entry (and not his last) finds the New York Giant matched against a fellow Hall of Famer in Chief Bender. The Philadelphia Athletic had already watched Big Six handcuff his offense twice in the 1905 World Series and tossed like he knew a third shutout was coming.
And come it did.
Mathewson finished the '05 Fall Classic with 27 innings of scoreless baseball in three starts. Bender was up for the challenge in Game 5 until the New York Giants scratched out a run in the fifth and another in the eighth.
That amounted to two errors too many and a World Series title for the Mathewson's Giants.
No. 5: Christy Mathewson Vs. Chief Bender in Game 1 of the 1911 World Series
Mathewson—9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, and a win
Bender—8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, and a loss
The rematch between Mathewson and Bender to open the 1911 World Series must've had baseball fans breathless with anticipation.
The legendary 1905 World Series performance by the New York Giant ace would've been fresh in people's minds as would've been the memory of the clash between these two Hall of Famers in that decisive Game 5.
Though Big Six would blink first, allowing a run in the second inning, he'd still manage to come out on top when the Giants rallied for the equalizer in the fourth and the go-ahead run in the seventh. The Philadelphia Athletic pitched even more brilliantly than he did six years ago, but it wasn't enough as he lost to his future Cooperstown mate yet again.
Bender's squad would have the last laugh, however, taking the Fall Classic in six games.
No. 4: Christy Mathewson Vs. Eddie Plank in Game 1 of the 1905 World Series
Mathewson—9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, and a win
Plank—9 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, and a loss
To put a modern spin on a black-and-white classic, "momma, there goes that man again."
Christy Mathewson is back—this time, he's locked up with Hall of Famer Eddie Plank.
Plank might not be a household name from antiquity, but the filthy southpaw was one of the best to take the rubber during the Dead Ball Era. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Athletics' blinder, he suffered the indignity of constantly finding names like Mathewson's opposite his in the box score.
That's a tough way to make a living.
In the first of several historic confrontations between the two, the New York Giant gained the upper hand by limiting the opposition to a mere four baserunners and a goose egg on the scoreboard. Plank wasn't at his peak, scattering 12 ducks on the pond and allowing three of them to cross.
In the 1905 World Series, three runs were two too many against Mathewson.
No. 3: Eddie Plank Vs. Christy Mathewson in Game 5 of the 1913 World Series
Plank—9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, and a win
Mathewson—9 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, and a loss
Game 5 of the 1913 World Series between the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Giants finally saw Eddie Plank get the monkey off his back.
This the third meeting between the Hall of Famers and the only one of the trio that the Philly lefty would win, but it was well worth the wait as the victory gave the Athletics the World Series title. Entering the game, Eddie would've known just how good he had to be and he proved up to the challenge with nine innings of two-hit ball and only three baserunners.
Mathewson was, by his standards, ordinary—nine innings and seven baserunners ain't too shabby, but it must've felt like an offensive bonanza to the A's and their fans considering the carnage (or lack thereof) Big Six had inflicted over the years.
No. 2: Joe McGinnity Vs. Eddie Plank in Game 4 of the 1905 World Series
McGinnity—9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, and a win
Plank—8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, and a loss
Joe McGinnity is a name that inspires even less recognition these days than Eddie Plank, but the New York Giant deserves better.
In Game 4 of the 1905 World Series, he showed why.
Plank was used to frustrating afternoons pitching opposite Christy Mathewson, so maybe it was a refreshing change of pace to get out-twirled by a different Giant Hall of Famer. On this day, it was Iron Man McGinnity would did the trick.
An error by shortstop Monty Cross helped plate the only run of the ball game—an unearned job in the fourth inning—and that was all she wrote for Plank and his A's.
McGinnity confounded the Philly bats and pushed them to the brink of elimination (Mathewson would shove them over it in Game 5) with his masterful shutout.
And Gettysburg Eddie was the hard-luck loser, yet again.
No. 1. Christy Mathewson Vs. Eddie Plank in Game 2 of the 1913 World Series
Mathewson—10 IP, 8 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, and a win
Plank—10 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, and a loss
A rematch for the ages.
Christy Mathewson makes his sixth and final appearance on the countdown in the No. 1 slot with his long-time rival Eddie Plank.
The New York Giant and Philadelphia Athletic greats cooperated on a triumvirate of pitchers' duels on baseball's biggest stage and this was the best of the three. Each man refused to let the other walk away a winner during regulation, so they went to extra frames to decide the matter.
And this was only Game 2 of the World Series, not much on the line at all.
After the aces had retired their normal allotment of 27 batters, the scoreboard still showed a nothing-nothing tie and Matty must've been getting tired because he took matters into his own hands.
The big right-hander stepped to the plate in the 10th and drove in the first run of the contest with a single. Two more runs would cross later in the inning—one of them unearned—before Plank could get his 30th out.
He finally did, but it was too late as Mathewson had all the support he needed to finish out the best pitching matchup the World Series has ever seen.