Tim Lincecum and The 10 Greatest World Series Clinching Pitching Gems
In his young career, Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants has accomplished some pretty special things on a pitching mound. Already owning two Cy Young awards, he has now added a World Series title, in which he out-pitched Cliff Lee in the clinching game to earn the Giants their first title since moving out west from New York.
Lincecum and his merry band of outsiders, otherwise known as the 2010 San Francisco Giants, out-pitched, outhit, and outclassed the Texas Rangers in every facet of the game, earning themselves baseball's most coveted prize, the title of World Series Champions.
Facing an offensive powerhouse, led by leading American League MVP candidate, Josh Hamilton, as well a pitching staff headed by modern postseason legend, Cliff Lee, the San Francisco Giants weren't expected to have much of a chance against the Texas Rangers. Relishing the underdog nature of their title challenge, the Giants went to work, with several dominant pitching performances and a rotating cast of characters providing heroics each night.
The resulting five game World Series victory is the Giants' first championship since 1954, and the lone title they have won since relocating to San Francisco prior to the 1958 season.
Led by their own pitching phenom, Tim Lincecum, the Giants proved that strong pitching is the key to baseball postseason success. Lincecum's stellar effort, coming five days after an uneven Game 1 start, would be enough to stifle the powerful Rangers and claim the championship.
San Francisco's unorthodox right-hander already authored a classic postseason start in his personal playoff debut during the NLDS, but his World Series clinching Game 5 performance will stand as one of the greatest clinching performances baseball has seen.
Let's see where Lincecum's gem ranks among the greatest World Series clinching, starting pitching performances of all time.
Scott McGregor: 1983 World Series Game 5
Capping off what was likely the finest season in his 13-year Major League career, Baltimore left-hander Scott McGregor had a World Series to remember in 1983.
Though he pitched well in Game 1, he opened the World Series with a defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.
With an opportunity to exact his revenge, McGregor took the hill in Game 5, with a 3-to-1 series lead and a chance to bring the city of Baltimore its first title since 1970.
McGregor made the most of his opportunity to clinch the series, throwing a complete game shut-out against a Phillies lineup loaded with heavy hitters and several future hall-of-famers.
Over his nine innings, McGregor only allowed five hits, while walking two, and striking out six in the Orioles 5-0 clinching victory.
Dave McNally: 1966 World Series Game 4
The 1966 World Series may be the least offensively inclined Fall Classic of all-time. In a four game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Baltimore Orioles outscored the boys in blue by a cumulative score of 13-2 over the four games.
After an abbreviated outing for both Game 1 starters to begin the series, Baltimore left-hander Dave McNally and Dodger right-hander Don Drysdale were called upon for Game 4.
The two would duel valiantly for the entirety of the game, with only a fourth inning, solo home run off the bat of Frank Robinson separating the two hurlers. Drysdale pitched well on the other side, but ended up on the wrong end of a 1-0 deficit,
McNally would go the distance, hurling nine shut-out innings to clinch the series for Baltimore. Overall, he would allow only four hits, all of them singles, two walks, and strike out four.
It wouldn't be McNally's greatest postseason performance, that title would belong to his 11 inning, shut-out effort in the 1969 ALCS Game 2 against the Twins. This however, was a complete game, shut-out victory to clinch the World Series title, so it takes precedence in this case.
Jose Rijo: 1990 World Series Game 4
In 1990, during the heyday of Oakland's "Bash Brothers" era, the slugger-laden A's were expected to roll right over the Cincinnati Reds when the two drastically different teams met in the World Series.
The Oakland powerhouse was fresh from a four-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 World Series, and during the 1990 regular season, had gone 103-59 to earn a return trip to the Fall Classic.
Cincinnati, had just upset the favored Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS on the strength of their pitching, to earn what many expected to be a severe beating by the powerful Athletics.
Reds' pitching showed up once again, this time to stifle the homer-happy Oakland lineup. In a stunning four-game sweep, the Cincinnati ball-club outplayed Oakland in every way, winning a World Series title that no one in 1990 could have possibly foreseen.
Earning himself MVP honors for the series, Cincinnati right-hander, Jose Rijo pitched Games 1 and 4, earning the victories with two strong performances. In his World Series clinching Game 4 win, Rijo hurled 8.1 innings, only allowing one run, on two hits and three walks, while striking out nine Oakland hitters.
Rijo's standout performance in the clincher completely subdued Oakland's stacked lineup and brought a World Series title to Cincinnati for the first time since 1976.
Tim Lincecum: 2010 World Series Game 5
The owner of two Cy Young awards in only four seasons as a big-leaguer, Tim Lincecum has the potential to something special every time he steps on a pitcher's mound. We saw it in his career playoff debut, when he utterly dominated the Atlanta Braves in a 1-0 NLDS victory in which he struck out 14.
In Lincecum's first career World Series start, he found himself matched up with Cliff Lee, and pitched well enough to earn the win, but it was far from his best effort.
With the series now in Arlington and the Giants leading by a 3-to-1 margin, San Francisco handed the ball to their young ace, he of the flowing locks and unorthodox pitching mechanics. Once again facing Texas' Cliff Lee, the Giants' right-hander was tasked with a significant request. The Giants were asking Lincecum to hold down the Rangers' potent offense in their home park, as well as duel one of the premier pitchers in baseball.
Apparently, Tim Lincecum was up to the task.
"The Freak," as he is affectionately known, owned the occasion, hurling eight dominant innings, only allowing one run on a Nelson Cruz solo home run. He allowed only three hits and two walks, while striking out 10 Rangers. His effort was all the Giants would need after Edgar Renteria crushed a a Cliff Lee mistake for a game-winning three-run home run.
With their string of dominant outings, the young San Francisco rotation of Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with over the next several years. If the Giants are able to get similar offensive production, they should be primed for return engagements on baseball's grandest stage, led by a stellar, young starting staff.
Ralph Terry: 1962 World Series Game 7
Two year after becoming part of baseball lore forever, by allowing Bill Mazeroski's Game 7 walk-off home run in the 1960 World Series, Ralph Terry would craft some history of his own.
Ralph Terry would earn World Series MVP honors in 1962, turning in a heroic performance, by starting three games against the San Francisco Giants, tossing 25 innings, as he went 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. His right arm easily out-pitched fellow Yankee, Whitey Ford in the 1962 series.
Terry saved his best for last in '62, as he was called upon to start Game 7 in San Francisco with the series tied at three games apiece. After starting Games 2 and 5, Terry was expected to control a Giants' lineup loaded with names like, Alou, Mays, McCovey and Cepeda.
He would keep the star-studded lineup in check all game, as he hurled a complete game shut-out, allowing only four hits, and no walks, while striking out four Giants.
The Yankee right-hander nearly lost it in the bottom of the ninth, as he faced Willie McCovey with Matty Alou, the tying run on third, and Willie Mays representing the winning run on second with two outs. McCovey crushed a ball deep into right field, a game-winning home run if fair, but mercifully it hooked foul at the last moment. He then scorched a hard line-drive right over Yankee second-baseman, Bobby Richardson's head, that Richardson clung to for dear life, ensuring the Yankee victory.
In dramatic fashion, the Yankees won Game 7 by a score of 1-0, and Ralph Terry was rewarded the series MVP for his efforts through the seven game set.
Bob Gibson: 1967 World Series Game 7
Following Game 4 of the 1967 World Series, in which Bob Gibson threw a dominant, complete game, shut-out over the Boston Red Sox, the Cardinals sat comfortably with a 3-to-1 advantage in the series. St. Louis would go on to lose the next two games however, and suddenly the series was tied and the Cardinals were on the verge of letting a commanding lead slip away.
Thankfully for St. Louis, they once again had Bob Gibson ready to take the mound. With complete game victories in Games 1 and 4, the hard-throwing right-hander was recharged and ready for a decisive Game 7.
To no one's surprise, the 32-year-old hurler tossed yet another complete game to clinch the 1967 series for St. Louis. His third consecutive complete game in the span of eight days would earn him MVP honors for the World Series. Overall, he would go 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA, striking out 26 in 27 innings.
In the clinching Game 7 victory, Gibson hurled nine innings, allowed two runs, on three hits, three walks, and struck out 10 Red Sox. His Herculean effort during the 1967 World Series stands as one of the overall greatest performances in baseball postseason history.
Josh Beckett: 2003 World Series Game 6
In 2003, the young Florida Marlins were eerily reminiscent of the 2010 San Francisco Giants. They were a crew of scrappy no-names with a young, rookie stud named Miguel Cabrera in the heart of their order, surrounded by a bunch of guys who didn't know they weren't supposed to be this good.
No one gave the 91-71, Wild-Card winning Marlins much chance against a loaded Yankee team that was coming off a 101-71 season. The Yankees had power, pitching and an unsurpassed veteran presence throughout their team.
Though the Marlins were seemingly outgunned, there was one things for certain, these young guys from Florida could pitch. Armed and dangerous, the Marlins trotted out a different youthful starter each day, with Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano and Dontrelle Willis in relief, offering a glimpse of the future with their strong performances throughout the '03 World Series.
After Game 3, the Yankees were up two games-to-one, and were looking to add their 27th World Series title in franchise history. A Game 4, 11th inning, walk-off home run from Alex Gonzalez later, the series was then tied. In Game 5, when portly Yankee starter David Wells couldn't make it beyond the first inning, ironically just after boasting of his lack of conditioning work, the Yankees were suddenly on the verge of elimination.
Young stud right-hander, Josh Beckett, looking to rebound after getting beaten in Game 2 of the series, took the ball for Game 6, in storied Yankee Stadium. Facing Andy Pettitte, a fellow Texan, Beckett would begin crafting his reputation as a big-game pitcher.
Beckett utterly dominated the Yankees, throwing a complete game shut-out to clinch the World Series title on the Yankees' own turf. He blazed fastballs by them all night, but kept them off balance with a stellar curve ball, en route to a 2-0 victory. Over his nine innings, he allowed five hits, two walks, while striking out nine Yankees. Though the score was only 2-0, the Yankees never had a chance against Beckett.
Tom Glavine: 1995 World Series Game 6
In the first World Series following the strike that wiped out postseason baseball in 1994, the pitching-rich Atlanta Braves faced off against the offensive juggernaut that was the 1995 Cleveland Indians.
The Indians, were a star-laden club at the time, boasting as many as four future hall-of-famers, as well as numerous other All-Star hitters.
Many expected the 100-44 Indians to roll over the 90-54 Braves, but the series once again proved that "good pitching beats good hitting," at least most of the time.
1995 World Series proved to be a hard-fought battle, as five of the six games were determined by one run.
After already hurling a strong start for a victory in Game 2, Tom Glavine was handed the ball again for Game 6, with a chance to clinch the World Series for Bobby Cox's Braves.
Glavine, a future Hall-of-Famer himself, hurled a gem, completely stifling Cleveland's array of sluggers, and earning the series MVP along the way.
In the 1-0 series clinching win, Glavine tossed eight dominant innings, shutting out the Indians on one hit and three walks, while striking out eight. It would be the finest start in Glavine's illustrious postseason career.
Jack Morris: 1991 World Series Game 7
It's difficult to surpass the heroic efforts of Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins during the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Already having started Games 1 and 4, earning the victory in Game 1, Morris was sent to the hill for the decisive Game 7 in Minnesota's Metrodome.
In an unforgettable effort that helped to forge Morris' personal playoff legend, the veteran right-hander threw 10 complete innings of shut-out baseball, allowing seven base-hits, two walks, and striking out eight Braves. He would earn the victory when the Twins ultimately persevered on a walk-off Gene Larkin single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Morris, with his 23 innings over three World Series starts, along with his 2-0 record and 1.17 ERA, took home the MVP honors, with one of the most memorable starting pitching performances in World Series history.
Sandy Koufax: 1965 World Series Game 7
In what is likely the greatest World Series clinching performance in baseball history, Sandy Koufax pitched a Game 7, complete game shut-out over the Minnesota Twins only two days after hurling another complete game shut-out in Game 5.
Koufax's heroics have helped forge his reputation as possibly the greatest pitcher we have ever seen. In hindsight, it's possible that hurling two complete games within two days of each other were responsible for Sandy never pitching beyond age 30, but that's not what we're concerned with at the moment.
In the decisive Game 7, in Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium, Koufax would out-duel Jim Kaat with a brilliant outing, earning the Dodgers a 2-0 victory, and their second World Series title in three years.
The Dodger left-hander, looking nothing like he had just thrown a compete game a mere three days prior, dominated the Twins once again, as he had in Game 5. Over nine innings, Koufax allowed three hits and three walks, holding the Twins scoreless, while striking out 10.
His brilliant efforts would earn him the 1965 World Series MVP honors, but the wear and tear proved to be too much, as the next season would be his last in baseball.
We'll always have his 1965 Game 7 performance to hold up as a standard for future generations of pitchers to aspire to when given an opportunity to clinch a World Series for their team.