Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and the 10 Greatest Postseason Matchups
Fans will have to wait a until Game Three to see Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia square off. The matchup that will feature two Cy Young Award winners (once the votes are counted and 2011's trophy is officially handed to Verlander).
Sabathia will likely come in second, but already has the 2007 award sitting on his mantelpiece.
Given their resumes, this has to be one of the 10 best pitching matchups of all time. Here are the rest to make the cut.
No. 10: Dwight Gooden vs. Nolan Ryan
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Two of the most explosive fastballs in Major League history went head-to-head in this 16-inning affair. "Doc" Gooden went 10 innings while Ryan wimped out with only nine.
Ryan won the battle of the box score with 12 strikeouts, while Gooden’s Mets eventually took the game and the series.
No. 9: Vida Blue and Jim Palmer
Oakland A’s vs. Baltimore Orioles, Game 3, ALCS
Both pitchers were in prime form in this Hall of Fame matchup. Palmer went the distance and only a fourth inning solo shot prevented the shutout.
Blue bested Palmer by allowing only two hits as the A’s took the game and the series.
No. 8: Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
This heavyweight showdown featured the last three winners of the NL Cy Young Award.
Halladay was fresh off of a no-hitter in his playoff debut. Both aces went seven innings strong and gave up two earned runs. Halladay took the first battle, but Lincecum and the Giants won the war.
No. 7: CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander
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New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers Game 1, 2011 ALDS
CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander kick off postseason play with a matchup of epic proportions. Once the MLB awards are handed out, the game will feature two Cy Young Award winners.
Sabathia took home the trophy in 2007, while Verlander leads the American League in virtually every pitching category.
This game could very well determine the outcome of the series and both are accomplished postseason performers. Sabathia took the Yankees to the World Series in 2009, while Verlander led the Tigers to an ALDS victory as a rookie in 2006 en route the AL Pennant.
No. 6: Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The four Cy Young Awards might be the only thing these two pitchers have in common. Greg Maddux was the crafty magician with the pinpoint control, while Randy Johnson was the intimidating flamethrower with an untouchable slider.
Maddux was effective in giving up two runs through seven innings, while Johnson was dominant: complete game, three hits, 11 K.
No. 5: Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, Game 7, 2003 ALCS
As a young baseball fan, when this matchup was announced, I remember thinking to myself, “this could be one of the best games I ever see.” I was absolutely right, though not in the way I had imagined.
Roger Clemens, the former face of the Boston Red Sox, lasted only three innings and gave up three runs against his old team.
Martinez was dealing and it seemed like “The Curse” would finally be broken. Then, the most infamous indecision in baseball history led to Martinez unraveling and an epic Yankees’ comeback.
Aaron Boone finally ended the game in the 11th inning with a home run Red Sox fans would love to forget.
No. 4: Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, Game 7, 2001 World Series
The most dramatic World Series in recent memory had a fitting end. Roger Clemens just won his sixth Cy Young Award by going 20-3 with a 3.51 ERA. Schlling came in second to his partner-in-crime, Randy Johnson, while posting 22 wins and 2.98 ERA.
Both aces impressed: 7IP, 2ER, 9K for Schilling. 6.1IP, 1ER, 10K for Clemens. Randy Johnson came out of the bullpen to get the save, while a broken bat single in the 11th inning defeated the immortal Mariano Rivera.
No. 3: CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies, Game 1, 2009 World Series
The two Cy Young Award winners went head-to-head and both men were on fire in the postseason. Lee gave up two runs in three starts, while Sabathia was fresh off of his ALCS MVP award.
Sabathia was pretty good, giving up two runs in seven innings. Lee, however, was on a different planet as he struck out 10 Yankees on his way to the complete game victory. Lee was the starter for both of the Phillies’ wins in the Series.
No. 2: Bob Gibson and Denny Mclain
The opening game of the ’68 classic featured not only MLB’s Cy Young Award winners, but also the MVPs. Gibson was fresh off arguably the most dominant season in history (22-9, 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts) while McClain remains the last 30-game winner.
Gibson got the better of his American League counterpart, hurling another complete game shutout with an incredible 17 strikeouts in the 4-0 victory.
No. 1: Sandy Koufax and Whitey Ford
New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers, Game 4, 1963 World Series
Koufax and Ford: Two of the most famous names in baseball history. The Hall-of-Famers faced off twice in the ’63 classic, but it was game four that proved to be the epic affair.
Ford was impressive, going seven strong while giving up two runs (one earned). Koufax was just a bit better, as he went the distance and gave up one while striking out eight as the Dodgers clinched the Series.
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