Matt Moore and the Top Single-Game Performances by a Playoff Rookie Since 1990

Zachary BallAnalyst IOctober 1, 2011

Matt Moore and the Top Single-Game Performances by a Playoff Rookie Since 1990

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    In just his second career start, Tampa Bay's Matt Moore shut down, for seven innings, arguably the most impressive offensive team in the majors this year.

    After slugging 210 home runs over the course of the 162-game season, the Rangers managed none, and just two total hits, off Moore.

    That the 22-year old left-hander managed to accomplish such a feat is amazing. That he managed to do it in the playoffs is astounding, and the fact that he was able to perform such an act in just his second career start in the majors is awe-inspiring.

    Without a doubt, Moore's masterful domination of a vaunted Rangers lineup that contained five players who hit 25 or more home runs will go down in history as one of the top performances by a rookie in the playoffs.

    But where does it stack up against some of the other outings put forth by first-year players in the playoffs over the past two decades?

    Let's take a look and see how he measures up.

Madison Bumgarner vs. Texas Rangers: 2010 World Series, Game 4

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    If you thought getting manhandled by a rookie pitcher was something new for Texas, think again.

    It doesn't even require a whole lot of brain power to think back to Game 4 of last year's World Series, when Giants rookie Madison Bumgarner dominated baseball's top lineup for eight innings.

    Granted, Bumgarner had much more experience than Moore. In fact, he made 18 starts for San Francisco during the regular season and another two in the divisional and championship series rounds.

    He was solid in those two starts, plus one relief appearance, but nothing could have prepared Texas for the smackdown the 20-year old lefty was about to throw down on them.

    He allowed just three hits, meaningless singles in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, worked around two walks, struck out six batters and needed just 106 pitches to get through eight shutout innings.

    He calmly then turned the ball over to Brian Wilson, who set down the heart of Texas' lineup (Andrus, Young and Hamilton) on 11 pitches, securing a 3-1 advantage for the Giants, who won the World Series the next night.

David Price vs. Boston Red Sox: 2008 ALCS, Game 7

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    You have to give Rays manager Joe Maddon credit for having the stones to give the ball to a rookie with the bases loaded and a two-run lead in Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series.

    Luckily, 22-year-old David Price rewarded Maddon's faith.

    Relieving Chad Bradford, who walked Kevin Youkilis to load the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Price calmly sent J.D. Drew down on strikes, ending the threat.

    He returned for the ninth inning, and after issuing a lead-off walk to Jason Bay, the left-hander got back-to-back strikeouts of veterans Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek. He then induced Jed Lowrie into a force-out, securing his first, and only, big-league save to send the Rays to their first World Series.

Evan Longoria vs. Boston Red Sox: 2008 ALCS, Game 2

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    Longoria played a vital role in the Rays' 2008 run to the World Series.

    During the regular season, he hit 27 homers, drove in 85 runs and locked down the American League Rookie of the Year Award. So, of course, it was no surprise when the 22-year old carried his success into the playoffs. 

    After a solid series against the White Sox, Longoria was sensational during a seven-game set against the Red Sox.

    He went deep four times total in the seven contests, and in every game from two to five. His Game 2 performance, however, was his playoff coming out party.

    With the Rays down 1-0, he provided all the offense the team would need, going 3-for-5 with his third playoff home run. He scored three runs, drove in three total and rapped two doubles.

    Matt Garza may have won ALCS MVP honors, but it was Longoria's steady presence in the middle of the lineup that kept the Rays in the series. 

Miguel Cabrera vs. Chicago Cubs: 2003 NLCS, Game 7

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    Lost in the hoopla surrounding the "Bartman play" in the 2003 NLCS matchup between the Cubs and Marlins was the stellar play of budding superstar Miguel Cabrera, who made his big-league debut as a 20-year-old halfway through the 2003 season.

    After hitting 12 homers and driving in 62 runs in just 87 games, Cabrera was the anchor of the Marlins' lineup during their run though the NLDS and NLCS.

    Against the Cubs, Miggy earned 10 base hits, scored nine runs, homered three times and drove in six runs.

    After having little impact in the Steve Bartman game (aka Game 6), Cabrera got the Marlins on the board early in Game 7, swatting a three-run homer in the first-inning to stake the Fish to an early lead that they wouldn't relinquish, on their way to a 4-3 series victory and an eventual six-game World Series victory over the Yankees.

Francisco Rodriguez vs. San Francisco Giants: 2002 World Series, Game 2

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    The Angels and Giants combined for 28 hits and 21 runs in Game 2 of the 2002 World Series. Heading into the top of the sixth inning and the Angels trailing 9-8, and it appeared there would be no keeping the Giants from breaking double digits.

    Until rookie Francisco Rodriguez stepped onto the mound that is.

    For the next three innings, K-Rod held San Francisco hitless, getting four strikeouts and forcing Barry Bonds, who went 1-for-2 with a home run and three walks, into a weak groundout.

    Thanks to his steady performance, the Angels managed to rally, scoring one run in the sixth and another two in the eighth, giving them an 11-10 victory and tying the series at one game apiece.

    Rodriguez picked up the victory, his fifth of the playoffs, and pitched three more times for Anaheim en route to the Angels' seven-game World Series victory.

Jaret Wright vs. New York Yankees: 1997 ALDS, Game 5

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    Despite winning the American League Central, it appeared the Indians got the short end of the stick in the playoffs by getting matched against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees, who would go on to win the next three championships after being eliminated by Cleveland in the 1997 divisional round.

    At the heart of the Indians' defeat of New York was rookie right-hander Jaret Wright.

    The 21-year old had a solid rookie campaign, winning eight games while posting a 4.38 ERA. He finished fifth in ROY voting, but might have gotten an extra boost if postseason performance had been factored in.

    Wright surprised everyone by keeping the Yankees at bay in Game 2, holding them to three earned runs. He sent Andy Pettitte home that night with a loss. Three games later, both pitchers were back on the mound for the decisive Game 5.

    Once again, Wright was brilliant, holding New York to three runs (two earned) over 5.1 innings, matching Pettitte pitch for pitch.

    The Indians won the game, 4-3, clinched the series and headed to the ALCS where they set down the Orioles in six-games, reaching the World Series for the second time in three seasons.

Andruw Jones vs. New York Yankees: 1996 World Series, Game 1

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    You would have been hard-pressed to find a more unlikely Game 1 World Series hero.

    After hitting a disappointing, but not for a 19-year-old making his major league debut, .217 in 31 games, the Braves kept rookie sensation Andruw Jones on their postseason roster.

    Early on, the move looked like a mistake, as Jones logged just one at-bat in three games in the NLDS.

    In the NLCS, he notched just two hits in 12 plate appearances and heading into the World Series tilt with the Yankees, Jones was hitting below .200.

    In Game 1, however, he looked like a man possessed. His 3-for-4 performance, which included two home runs and five RBI, sparked the Braves to a 12-1 victory and gave them the early momentum in the Series.

    A repeat title seemed all but in the bag.

    That is, of course, until the Yankees brushed off a Game 2 shutout to win four straight and take the 1996 title.

Derek Jeter vs. Baltimore Orioles: 1996 ALCS, Game 1

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    With the Yankees trailing the Orioles, 4-3, in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series, rookie Derek Jeter stepped to the plate and took the first pitch deep to right field.

    What happened next was either the definite moment that marked Jeter's arrival to the big leagues, or if you're an O's fan, the biggest screw job in history.

    Still, you have to give Jeter, who hit ninth in the lineup that night and for the majority of his first playoff run, some credit. He did, after all, go 4-for-5 in the game and stole one base.

    The O's may have won the next game, but they were all but deflated after the Jeffrey Maier induced home run that cost them Game 1. The Yankees won games three, four and five and went on to defeat the Braves four games to two in the World Series.

Chipper Jones vs. Colorado Rockies: 1995 NLDS, Game 1

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    It might seem as if Chipper has been around forever, and while he's certainly made the most of his 18-year career of racking up more achievements than any other player in Braves history, it's easy to forget the impact he made in his very first playoff game.

    After a stunning rookie campaign, during which he hit 23 homers and drove in 86 runs, Jones jump-started the Braves' 1995 World Series run with a two-homer performance in the opening game of Atlanta's matchup with Colorado.

    The 23-year old went deep in the sixth inning tying the game at three, and then won it with a solo shot in the top of the ninth inning.

    Chipper went on to hit .389 during the four-game set, and then hit .438 in the Braves four-game sweep of Cincinnati in the NLCS.

    The Braves defeated the Indians in six games in the World Series. 

Chuck Knoblauch vs. Atlanta Braves: 1991 World Series, Game 1

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    Knoblauch had a sensational rookie campaign, capped with AL Rookie of the Year honors, hitting .281 with 50 RBI, 25 steals and 19 more walks than strikeouts.

    He continued his solid run in the playoffs, hitting .350 in a five-game championship series against the Blue Jays. He saved his best single-game performance for the opening game of the World Series in Minnesota.

    Hitting second, Knoblauch reached base in each of his four at-bats (three hits, one walk). He didn't score or drive in any runs, but he wreaked havoc on the basepaths, stealing two bases and setting the pace along with Dan Gladden at the top of the lineup.

    The Twins won Game 1, 5-2, and eventually went on to claim the Series in seven games.