2010 World Series: Texas Rangers Ace Cliff Lee in Select Company
Few things have been more certain that Cliff Lee's dominance in the playoffs over the last two seasons.
Sure, there's the sunrise and, nearly as certain, sunset.
There's Glenn Beck angering liberals and Jon Stewart offending conservatives.
And there's MTV killing the brain cells of children with Jersey Shore.
But other than those things, there are few things you could set your clock by with more certainty than Cliff Lee shutting down opponents in October. Going into last night's Game 1 of the World Series, Lee had allowed only two postseason earned runs while striking out 35 and walking one.
Nevertheless, Lee got shellacked last night. Courtesy of baseballreference.com blogger "Andy", we now know that Lee's performance is tied for the 13th-worst Game Score in World Series Game 1 history.
Never fear, though, Cliff Lee fans. The company he's keeping on this list is actually pretty impressive. Here is a look at the top seven pitchers to have sucked as bad as Cliff Lee did in Game 1 of a World Series.
What Is Game Score?
- Start with 50 points.
- Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
- Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
- Add 1 point for each strikeout.
- Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
- Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
- Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
- Subtract 1 point for each walk.
7. Whitey Ford, 1956 World Series: 28
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Hall of Famer Whitey Ford won six World Series titles with the New York Yankees from 1950 to 1962, going 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 146.0 innings pitched.
But in the opening game of the 1956 World Series, Ford needed a bailout. He allowed five earned runs on six hits and two home runs in 3.0 innings pitched and registered a Game Score of 28, tied with Cliff Lee for 13th-worst of all time.
The Yankees ultimately prevailed, however, with Ford winning Game 3 and Don Larsen pitching a perfect game in Game 5.
6. Don Drysdale, 1965 World Series: 27
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Giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings of Game 1 of the 1965 series, Hall of Famer Don Drysdale delivered a real crap-in-your-pants moment for Dodgers fans good for a 27 Game Score.
And this is a guy with a career 2.95 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 39.2 post-season innings.
Of course, the Dodgers nevertheless prevailed on the back of some great Sandy Koufax pitching, winning the series in seven games.
5. Eddie Cicotte, 1919 World Series: 22
Ever see a pitcher pitch so poorly that you wonder if he's losing on purpose?
When Eddie Cicotte started the 1919 World Series by plunking the Reds' leadoff batter and then allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings—earning a 22 Game Score—no one wondered.
They knew the fix was in, and the Chicago Black Sox were about to throw the World Series.
4. Orel Hershiser, 1997 World Series: 21
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Though not a Hall of Famer, Hershiser is a guy with a career postseason record of 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 132 innings, and someone who almost single-handedly pitched the 1988 Dodgers to the title.
Nevertheless, he laid an egg in Game 1 of the 1997 series for the Indians, allowing seven earned runs in 4.1 innings on six hits, four walks, and two home runs for a Game Score of 21.
The Indians, of course, lost the World Series in seven games to the Florida Marlins.
3. Andy Pettitte, 1996 World Series: 17
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Generally regarded as one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time—complete with a 19-10 record in 263.0 innings—future Hall of Famer Andy Pettitte laid an egg that was anything but golden in Game 1 of the 1996 series, allowing seven earned runs in 2.1 innings for a 17 Game Score.
The Yankees went on to win the series any way.
2. Hal Newhouser, 1945 World Series: 16
From 1944 to 1945, Hal Newhouser was hands-down the best pitcher in baseball, going 54-18 with a 2.01 ERA and only 11 home runs allowed in 625.2 innings.
Nevertheless, in Game 1 of the 1945 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Newhouser didn't show up. Hal went 2.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits and one walk for a Game Score of 16, the second-worst Game 1 Game Score of all time.
Newhouser would pitch complete games, however, in Games 5 and 7, and Detroit prevailed over the Chicago in the Cubs' last World Series appearance.
1. Woody Williams, 2004 World Series: 11
We end with Woody Williams.
First of all, he had no business starting Game 1 of the World Series.
Second of all, by the time the 2004 World Series began, the baseball gods had already decided that the Red Sox, fresh off their comeback from three games down to the Yankees in the ALCS, would win the series.
So, when Williams allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks in just 2.1 innings, earning the worst Game 1 Game Score of all time with an 11, it was simply meant to be.
Or, in Woody's case, not meant to be.