Jack Morris hurls the Twins to a World Series Ring
The full, nine-inning shutout has become a rarity in modern baseball. The full, 10-inning one has always been something special.
For a pitcher to hurl a 10-inning shutout in the regular season is impressive, in the postseason it has added weight. What about in a deciding, winner-take-all scenario such as Game 7 of the World Series?
There's not much room to draw comparisons of Morris' outing on October 27, 1991. Taking into account the performance, as well as the gravity of the circumstance, it's not a stretch to call it the greatest pitching performance in World Series history.
Sure, Morris gave up seven hits and allowed two walks, and, yes, he only struck out eight batters. Those numbers look pretty weak when compared to some of the performances in this slideshow already. Think about the gravity of the situation though. It was Game 7 and the two teams, the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins, were scoreless through the entire nine innings.
Those that watched Derek Holland pitch his own masterpiece last night probably noticed that Holland worked a bit quicker following the Mike Napoli home run in the sixth. Holland seemed to gain confidence when his lead went from the always tenuous one-run lead to a more comfortable four-run cushion.
On this night in 1991, Jack Morris never threw a pitch while enjoying a lead. Every time he reared back and threw a pitch—all 126 times through 10 nail-biting innings—Morris released the ball knowing that a mistake could result in him losing the lead and consequently the entire World Series. He worked with zero room for error, and he did so with a level of poise that seems almost unmatchable.
In five of the 10 innings Morris had to operate with runners on base. In the eighth inning he induced Braves first baseman Sid Bream to hit into a double play with one out and the bases loaded. Morris operated in this fashion while Braves starter John Smoltz was performing a near perfect imitation for the Braves.
When Morris wiggled out of his bases-loaded and one-out jam in the top of the eighth with a double play, it was only natural that in the bottom of the eighth Smoltz found himself in his own one-out, bases-loaded jam. Up stepped Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek, and Smoltz, in the interest of maintaining his mirror image performance, induced an inning-ending double play as well. It was that kind of night in Minnesota.
Eventually the Twins would break through and score a game-winning, World Series-winning run in the bottom of the 10th. It was a single by pinch hitter Gene Larkin that scored Twins left fielder Dan Gladden as the Twins walked off with the win and Morris waltzed into some of the most hallowed ground of baseball history.