In my opinion, no sight in baseball is cooler than the pitcher getting the final out of a post season series. Whether the final play is a strikeout or a deep flyball, the focus of the celebration is inevitably the ultimate group hug on the mound and a fabulous celebration.
In many ways, I find it to be a more beautiful piece of sports pageantry than a walk off hit or home run to end a series. As a kid I always fantasized about being the final pitcher. And every pitcher who gets the last out gives the fan base an unforgettable image.
Of the 19 post season series won by the Red Sox, three ended on an offensive walk off play by the Red Sox.
Larry Gardner hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning of Game 8 to end the 1912 World Series.
David Ortiz hit a walk off 2 run homer in the 10th of Game 3 to clinch the 2004 Division Series.
And Jed Lowrie slapped a series ending single in Game 4 of the 2008 Division Series.
The other 16 series were ended by a pitcher getting the last out.
Some were names forgotten by all but the most studious baseball historian.
One is one of the biggest names in Red Sox history.
Three of the great clutch relievers in Boston history are on the list.
And two relievers usually associated with blowing games had a moment of glory on the mound.
Here are the pitchers, the game they pitched, and how was the last out recorded.
1903 World Series – Game 8
Red Sox 3, Pirates 0
October 13, 1903
At Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston.
Complete Game 4 hit shutout.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Honus Wagner.
1915 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 5, Phillies 4
October 13, 1915
At Baker Bowl, Philadelphia.
Complete Game victory.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Bill Killefer grounds out to shortstop Everett Scott who throws to first baseman Del Gainer for the out.
1916 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 4, Robins (Dodgers) 1
October 12, 1916
At Braves Field, Boston.
Complete Game victory with no earned runs.
LAST OUT: Brooklyn third baseman Mike Mowrey popped up to shortstop Everett Scott.
1918 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 2, Cubs 1
September 11, 1918
At Fenway Park, Boston.
Complete Game victory.
LAST OUT: Cubs left fielder Les Mann hit a grounder to second baseman Dave Shean who threw to first baseman Stuffy McInnes for the out.
1975 American League Championship Series – Game 3
Red Sox 5, A’s 3
October 7, 1975
At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
1 2/3 innings to save the game for winner Rick Wise.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Jim Holt grounded to second baseman Denny Doyle who threw to first baseman Cecil Cooper for the out.
1985 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 8, Angels 1
October 15, 1986
At Fenway Park, Boston
2 innings to save the game for winner Roger Clemens.
LAST OUT: Three pitch strike out of pinch hitter Jerry Narron.
1999 American League Division Series – Game 5
Red Sox 12, Indians 8
October 11, 1999
At Jacobs Field, Cleveland.
Out of the bullpen for 6 no hit innings in relief of starter Bret Saberhagen and reliever Derek Lowe.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Omar Vizquel.
2003 American League Division Series – Game 5
Red Sox 4, A’s 3
October 6, 2003
At Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland.
1 inning of relief to save the game for winner Pedro Martinez.
LAST OUT: Called third strike of pinch hitter Terrence Long.
2004 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 10, Yankees 3
October 20, 2004
At Yankee Stadium, New York.
1/3 of an inning of relief for winner Derek Lowe and relievers Pedro Martinez and Mike Timlin.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Ruben Sierra grounded to second baseman Pokey Reese who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the out.
2004 World Series – Game 4.
Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0
October 27, 2004
At Busch Stadium, St. Louis
1 inning of relief to save the game for winner Derek Lowe.
LAST OUT: St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria grounded back to Foulke who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the out.
2007 American League Division Series – Game 3
Red Sox 9, Angels 1
October 7, 2007
Angel Stadium, Anaheim
1 inning of relief for winner Curt Schilling
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Robb Quinlan flies out to right fielder J. D. Drew.
2007 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 11, Indians 2
October 21, 2007
Fenway Park, Boston
2 innings of relief to save the game for starter Daisuke Matsuzaka
LAST OUT: Casey Blake hits a long drive to centerfield where Coco Crisp crashes into the wall for the catch
2007 World Series – Game 4
Red Sox 4, Rockies 3
October 28, 2007
Coors Field, Denver
1 2/3 innings relief to save the game for starter Jon Lester.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of pinch hitter Seth Smith.
2013 American League Division Series – Game 4
Red Sox 3, Rays 1
October 8, 2013
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
1 1/3 innings relief to save game for starter Jake Peavy and relievers Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of third baseman Evan Longoria.
2013 American League Championship Series – Game 6
Red Sox 5, Tigers 2
October 19, 2013
1 inning relief to save game for starter Clay Buchholz and relievers Franklin Morales, Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of shortstop Jose Iglesias.
2013 World Series – Game 6
Red Sox 6, Cardinals 1
October 30, 2013
1 inning relief for starter John Lackey and relievers Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Matt Carpenter
So there you have it.
Uehara is the only one to do it 3 times.
Papelbon is the only other one to have done it twice. And I am sure Calvin Schiraldi and Eric Gagne are honored to be on a list with Pedro Martinez.
I love that Pedro relieved Lowe in 1999…
Lowe saved Pedro’s clincher in 2003…
And Pedro came out of the bullpen to relieve Lowe in 2004.
There is a nice circle of life there.
And I’m glad to see solid veterans like Dick Drago and Alan Embree here.
All of them deserve Red Sox fan’s respect (yes even Calvin and Gagne.)
So savor it Red Sox fans. I don’t get to update this list every year. And savor this wonderful off season.