Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Great Game 3 performances

MLB Notebook: Great Game 3 performances

MLB Notebook: Great Game 3 performances
Entering the 2011 World Series, the team that took Game 1 had gone on to win the Fall Classic just under 62 percent of the time -- an interesting percentage, but by no means an overwhelming cut.

In looking at how events play out after Game 3, the results are slightly more separated. In the 106 Game 3's prior to Saturday, that contest's winner has eventually won the ring just under 68 percent of the time.

In preparation for this year's version of events -- and with an eye toward the men whose work in any Game 3 led their team to success -- let's look back at some resonant individual performances that have transpired in the third game of past World Series.

Ed Walsh, White Sox, 1906

In 1906, the Cubs, who had won 116 games against 36 losses in the regular season, defeated the White Sox in Game 2 of the World Series, evening things at one game apiece. Enter Ed Walsh, a 25-year-old right-hander from Plains, Pa. In Game 3, Walsh allowed a single, double and walk, struck out 12 and tossed a complete-game shutout to help lead the White Sox to a 3-0 win.

Walsh's game score (an equation used to determine a pitcher's dominance) for that Game 3 was a 94 -- tied with Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956 for the second highest all-time in any World Series contest. The White Sox eventually won the Series in six games.

Walsh's shutout in 1906 is one of 17 thrown in a Game 3. The first was tossed by the Giants' Christy Mathewson in 1905 -- the second of his unmatched three that World Series. The most recent took place more than 40 years ago. On Oct. 8, 1966, the Orioles' Wally Bunker, at the still-blooming age of 21 years and 256 days, blanked the Dodgers on six hits and beat Claude Osteen and Los Angeles 1-0. Incidentally, those 17 shutouts in a Game 3 are the most for any game.

Carl Erskine, Dodgers, 1953

Forty-seven years after Walsh and his 12 K's in 1906, Carl Erskine -- in a Game 3 against the Yankees -- did Walsh two better. On Oct. 2, 1953, the Dodgers righty faced down a lineup that featured Gil McDougald, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Mize (as a pinch-hitter in the ninth), and fanned 14 in a six-hit complete-game victory. Only two pitchers -- Sandy Koufax in Game 1 in '63 and Bob Gibson in Game 1 in '68 -- have struck out more batters in a World Series contest than Erskine did that day.

Erskine is one of eight pitchers to strike out at least 10 batters in a Game 3. The first was Walsh in 1906, and the most recent was Josh Beckett in 2003. Erskine, Beckett and Tom Seaver (1973) did it on the National League side, while Walsh was joined by fellow AL hurlers George Earnshaw ('29), Jack Kramer ('44), Blue Moon Odom ('72) and Orlando Hernandez (2000).

Don Larsen, Yankees, 1957

Three days before the one-year anniversary of his perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, the Yankees' Larsen turned in another performance worthy of recollection.

In 1957, with the Series tied at one, the Braves were trailing, 3-1, in the third inning, but had the bases loaded and NL Most Valuable Player Award winner Hank Aaron coming to the plate. Yankees manager Casey Stengel summoned Larsen from the bullpen, and the right-hander got Aaron to fly out to right to end the inning. Larsen went the rest of the way, allowing two runs on five hits in a relief appearance that spanned 7 1/3 innings, and earned his second career Fall Classic victory.

Honus Wagner, Pirates, 1909, and Lou Brock, Cardinals, 1968

Only two players in World Series history have ever had three hits and three steals in a game, and both did it in a Game 3.

In 1909, Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner became the first to accomplish the feat, as he helped spark and direct a Buccos attack that put eight runs on the board in a win over the Tigers. Wagner finished the series with eight hits in 24 at-bats and collected six stolen bases. His stolen base total remained a World Series record until Lou Brock hit the field in 1967.

In that Fall Classic, Brock stole seven bags, as the Cardinals outlasted the Red Sox in seven games. One year later, he was at it again, tying his own record for steals and collecting 13 hits to tie that Series record as well. Three of those seven steals and three of those 13 hits in 1968 came in Game 3: a 7-3 victory for the Cardinals.

The three-hit, three-stolen base game for Brock actually marked the second time he had swiped three bags in a World Series contest. He also did it in Game 7 in 1967, making him the only player to have a pair of three-steal games in his World Series career. Beside Brock and Wagner, two other players -- Willie Davis in Game 5 of the '65 World Series and B.J. Upton in Game 3 of the 2008 World Series -- collected three stolen bases in a game.

Dave Henderson, Athletics, 1989

Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Mantle combined for 20 appearances in World Series Game 3s, but none of those iconic center fielders collected as many total bases in a Game 3 as Athletics center fielder Dave Henderson did in 1989.

On Oct. 27, 1989, Henderson and the rest of the ballplayers resumed their Fall Classic after the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Henderson was the offensive star. With two home runs and a double in five trips to the plate, Henderson totaled 10 total bases and paced an A's attack that collected 13 runs on 14 hits.

Henderson's 10 total bases in 1989 are the most for any player in a World Series Game 3. Two Yankees -- Tony Kubek in '57 and Scott Brosius in '98 -- tied for the second most, with nine.

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Yankees, 1932

When the Yankees and Cubs tussled in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, New York was riding a 10-game World Series winning streak. Present for all 10 of these wins were the two components of the greatest hitting duo the game has ever seen. And in this particular Game 3 , Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig continued to add to their dominating resume.

In a 7-5 Yankees win, Gehrig and Ruth combined for four runs, four hits, four homers and six RBIs. Ruth hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Gehrig followed with a solo shot in the third, and then hit another solo homer in the fifth. But it was Ruth's at-bat between the two Gehrig homers that is still cause for all sorts of debate.

In the fifth inning, with the game tied at 4-4, and with hostilities between the two clubs escalating to red-hot levels, Ruth came to the plate with one out and the bases empty. He gestured in some fashion, and proceeded to hit a bomb over the center-field wall. Did he call his shot? Was he gesticulating toward the Cubs in their dugout? The answer remains in baseball lore.

Ruth, Gehrig and the aforementioned Henderson are three of 11 players to hit a pair of homers in the third game of a World Series. Gehrig also did it in 1928, becoming the first to accomplish this feat. The most recent player to do it was Jayson Werth, in 2009.

Willie McGee, Cardinals, 1982

Another player worth noting is the Cardinals' Willie McGee, who hit two homers and robbed another defensively in Game 3 in 1982.

McGee was the third rookie to hit two homers in any World Series game. The first was Charlie Keller, in '39, and the second was Tony Kubek, in '57.

Both of those gentlemen accomplished the feat in -- you guessed it -- Game 3.

Roger Schlueter is a senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.