With the potential for a memorable pitching performance in a Cliff Lee-Tim Lincecum World Series Game 1 matchup, here’s some historical perspective related to the greatest Game 1 pitching efforts in World Series history, with the help of Baseball-Reference.com.
The last pitcher to throw a shutout in Game 1 of the World Series was Dave Stewart of the 1989 Oakland Athletics.Who did he shut out? The San Francisco Giants. Stewart is one of five pitchers to throw a Game 1 World Series shutout in the last 50 years.
World Series Game 1, Last 50 Years
Also of note: The first Game 1 shutout in a World Series was thrown by a Giant -- Christy Mathewson in 1905 against the Athletics.
The last complete game in Game 1 of a World Series was last year by Cliff Lee in Yankee Stadium against the Yankees. It was the first Game 1 of a World Series complete game since Greg Maddux in 1995 and the first in a Game 1 on the road since Jack Morris for the Tigers in 1984.
If Lee were to throw another, he’d be the first pitcher to throw complete games in Game 1 of consecutive World Series since Bob Gibson did so in 1967 and 1968.
He’d also be the third pitcher to throw a complete game on the road in Game 1 of a World Series on two different occasions, joining Hall of Famers Chief Bender and Red Ruffing. Neither of those two did it in consecutive years.
The record for most strikeouts in any World Series game was set by Bob Gibson of the 1968 Cardinals, who struck out 17 Tigers in the series opener. The second-most strikeouts by a pitcher in any World Series game was also in a Game 1, when Sandy Koufax struck out 15 Yankees for the 1963 Dodgers.
The highest Game Score recorded in a Game 1 was a 93 by Bob Gibson in his 17-strikeout game in 1968. It rates as the fourth-highest World Series Game Score all-time and the only Game Score in a Game 1 that rated 90 or better.
World Series Game, All-Time
The last team to throw a shutout in a Game 1 of the World Series was the 1990 Reds, setting the tone for their four-game sweep of the Athletics.
The fewest hits allowed BY A TEAM in a World Series opener is two, done most recently by the 1999 Yankees against the Braves in Atlanta (Orlando Hernandez won, allowed one hit in seven innings).
All seven of the teams who allowed two hits in a World Series opener went on to win the World Series, even the two that allowed two hits AND LOST their Game 1 (1944 Cardinals and 1948 Indians).
Lest we forget relievers, we can tell you that the most strikeouts by a reliever in Game 1 of a World Series is 11 by Moe Drabowsky for the 1966 Orioles. He pitched 6⅔ innings of scoreless one-hit relief in that game against the Dodgers. Drabowsky’s entrance marked the turning point of that World Series. The Dodgers did not score a run in any of the last three games of the four-game Orioles sweep.