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Project ShaqBox: Recounting Bob Gibson's postseason heroics

1975 Topps Bob Gibson
1975 Topps Bob Gibson
Image: Jesse Spector

1975 Topps Bob Gibson

It’s not unique to the Cardinals, but certainly something that they excel at: keeping legends of the franchise involved, and giving current players the chance to interact with them, to learn from them, to continue traditions forged over decades.

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Bob Gibson’s legacy is very much his own as a Hall of Famer, but upon the news of his death on Friday night, just after the Cardinals had their season end with a Game 3 loss in San Diego, Jack Flaherty posted a memorial tweet, a photo of himself listening to the best pitcher St. Louis ever had.

Flaherty took the loss on Friday night, though it was hardly on him that the Cardinals got shut out by nine Padres pitchers who wove together a four-hitter. In six innings, Flaherty struck out eight and allowed only one run, on doubles by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer (sandwiched around a strikeout of Manny Machado) in the fifth.

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Gibson, who completed eight of his nine career World Series starts (and went eight innings in the other), might not have been able to sympathize with Flaherty exiting after six, but he did know about taking a tough loss in an elimination game. In Game 7 of the 1968 World Series, after having gone 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA (how did he lose nine???), Gibson and Mickey Lolich matched zeroes until the seventh inning, when the Tigers strung together four straight two-out hits for three runs and went on to win, 4-1.

Gibson had struck out 17 in a Game 1 shutout, and 10 in a 10-1 win in Game 4. He’d won all three of his starts against the Red Sox in the World Series the year before, including allowing only three hits while striking out 10 in a 7-2 win in Game 7. He’d won Game 7 against the Yankees in 1964, too.

Flaherty hasn’t known that postseason success yet, but he doesn’t turn 25 until the middle of this month. That he was able to connect with Gibson is a great thing to celebrate, a linkup that helps keep Cardinals tradition as seamless and as great as it is. Gibson will definitely be missed, but his memory is sure to live on and be celebrated.

1988 Topps Lou Brock (TBTC), 1988 Donruss Will Clark, 1997 Collector’s Choice Edgar Martinez, 2007 Upper Deck Derek Jeter
1988 Topps Lou Brock (TBTC), 1988 Donruss Will Clark, 1997 Collector’s Choice Edgar Martinez, 2007 Upper Deck Derek Jeter
Image: Jesse Spector
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TIM’S TIME

The White Sox went home, but not before Tim Anderson got to show the national audience just how good of a hitter he is.

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Anderson had three hits in each of the three games of the Chicago-Oakland series, which tied a postseason record for consecutive three-hit games. Incredibly, the record was set in the pitcher-happy 1968 season, when Lou Brock, who had hits in all seven games of the World Series, went to Detroit and had three hits in Games 3, 4, and 5.

Brock had two homers in that series, and stole seven bases, tying his own record from the year before, a World Series mark that still stands.

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Nobody else has had three hits in three World Series games, though there have been other players to do it in a single playoff series, with Edgar Martinez the only one to have a single series with four such games. Will Clark had three in the 1989 NLCS, Albert Pujols in the 2004 NLCS, and three Mariners in division series play: Martinez and Jay Buhner in 1995, and Ichiro in 2001.

Martinez actually had four three-hit games in that 1995 series against the Yankees, setting the major league record for three-hit games in a single postseason that Buhner tied with in the 1995 ALCS. Pujols also joined that club with a three-hit game in the 2004 World Series, while Jose Altuve buzzed in for two in the 2017 ALDS, and one each in the ALCS and World Series.

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Because the White Sox were eliminated on Thursday, Anderson won’t get a chance to match that record, but at 27 and with the young core of this team, he figures to get a chance to climb the all-time list for three-hit games in the playoffs. That record is 12, shared by Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams.

2008 Topps Heritage Jim Leyland, 1992 Score Bob Kipper, 1977 Topps Jim Barr
2008 Topps Heritage Jim Leyland, 1992 Score Bob Kipper, 1977 Topps Jim Barr
Image: Jesse Spector
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GRAND ENTRANCES

James Karichnak gave up a grand slam to the first batter he faced in his playoff career, serving up the salami to Gio Urshela in what was just one of many twists and turns in Game 2 in Cleveland, as the Yankees completed their sweep.

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Karinchak is the first pitcher to have such an inglorious postseason debut since 2011, in another rain-delayed game Yankees game, this one against the Tigers. It was Game 1 of the ALCS, and rain forced a suspension of the game after an inning, so instead of Justin Verlander against CC Sabathia, it became a Doug Fister-Ivan Nova matchup.

In the sixth, with the Yankees up 2-1, Fister ran out of gas. After a two-run single by Brett Gardner made it 4-1, Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson walked. Jim Leyland called to the bullpen for Al Alburquerque, and Robinson Canó put his 0-1 pitch into the second deck in right field.

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There are only two other members of this particular club, one involving another Cleveland pitcher and the other featuring another Yankees hitter. Those would be Paul Shuey, who gave up a grand slam to Bobby Bonilla in Game 1 of the 1996 ALDS, which the Orioles already led by two runs, and Dick Coffman of the 1936 Giants, who got taken deep by Tony Lazzeri in the third inning of Game 2 of the World Series, an 18-4 Yankees romp at the Polo Grounds.

Karinchak and Triston McKenzie wound up being the first pair of teammates to give up homers in their playoff debuts since Hector Santiago and Mike Morin of the Angels in Game 3 of the 2014 ALDS. Coffman was a trailblazer here, too, as he and Harry Gumbert, who gave up a three-run shot to Bill Dickey in the ninth inning of that 1936 game, were the first such duo.

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In between, there have been nine other pairs of playoff-debuting teammates to surrender gopher balls.

  • Ross Ohlendorf and Phil Hughes, Yankees at Cleveland, 2007 ALDS Game 1
  • Elmer Dessens and Giovanni Carrara, Dodgers at Cardinals, 2004 NLDS Game 1
  • Julian Tavarez and Jim Poole, Cleveland vs. Red Sox, 1995 ALDS Game 1
  • Bobby Thigpen and Ben Rivera, Phillies vs. Atlanta, 1993 NLCS Game 2
  • Bob Kipper and Rosario Rodriguez, Pirates at Atlanta, 1991 NLCS Game 3
  • Jim Barr and Ron Bryant, Giants vs. Pirates, 1971 NLCS Game 2
  • Fred Green and Joe Gibson, Pirates vs. Yankees, 1960 World Series Game 2
  • Gene Conley and Bob Trowbridge, Milwaukee vs. Yankees, 1957 World Series Game 3
  • Jim Hughes and Clem Labine, Dodgers at Yankees, 1953 World Series Game 1

One other note: Urshela’s blast was the 69th grand slam in postseason history.

1996 Score Pete Schourek, 1979 Topps Joe Niekro
1996 Score Pete Schourek, 1979 Topps Joe Niekro
Image: Jesse Spector
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ZERO HOUR

The Reds’ bats disappeared in Atlanta as Cincinnati remains without a run in the playoffs since 2013 and a 6-2 loss in the wild card game in Pittsburgh. That meant the Reds wasted the 7.2 scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts that Trevor Bauer delivered in Game 1.

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It was the fourth-longest outing for a no-decision in Reds postseason history, behind eight innings apiece for Jack Billingham (1973 NLCS Game 1) and Tom Seaver (1979 NLCS Game 1), and 8.1 for Pete Schourek, who gave up one run in Game 1 of the 1995 NLCS — the eventual 2-1 loss in 11 innings began an Atlanta sweep, and Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff series since.

Bauer can commiserate with Reds teammate Sonny Gray, who had a no-decision after going eight scoreless innings for the A’s in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS, though Oakland did win that game, 1-0, when Al Albuquerque (poor Al Albuquerque!) loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the ninth inning, Leyland (poor Leyland!) brought in Rick Porcello, and Stephen Vogt singled to end it.

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The longest scoreless playoff no-decision belongs to Joe Niekro, who went 10 innings for the Astros in Game 3 of the 1980 NLCS, won by the Astros in the 11th on Joe Morgan’s triple and Denny Walling’s sac fly.

The Astros blew leads in the eighth inning of both Game 4 and Game 5, losing each in extra innings to send the Phillies to the World Series and what would wind up being their first championship.

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Do you want to get 10 random baseball cards in the mail? All you need to do is share your address, and you can be part of Project ShaqBox.

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.

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