One of the common things I'm seeing in the survey is that people want to see more historical stuff, so I'm going to try to do more of those, at least until the Spring Training game start in less than 3 weeks (woo hoo!).
Trying to pick the top game pitched by a Red is a fairly subjective task. I mean, I think we all know what #1 is, but determining a rank beyond that is much more difficult. I started by looking at Game Score, but it's not much help because starting pitcher usage is so much different now than in 1965. If we based it on Game Score, 7 of the top 10 games would be from 1963-1969, with 5 of those from Jim Maloney. What fun is that?
So, this is a very subjective list. Deal with it.
I've only used the last 50 years since we only have game data back to 1956 (yes, I've actually looked back to 1956, but there weren't many interesting games between '56 and '58.
So enough jibber-jabber. Let's get on with it already.
The Reds came into this game in 4th place, but with the division leading Dodgers coming to town, they needed to make a push before it got too late. Jackson gave them a boost in a game that lasted just 2 hours and 17 minutes and saw Jackson throw a complete game shutout on just 79 pitches.
It's hard to believe that Johnny Cueto wasn't even expected to make the team when Spring Training started. By the end of his first start, it seemed like this season might be something special. His 10 Ks are the most by a Reds rookie in his first MLB start. And if it hadn't been for a mistake pitch to Justin Upton that led to a home run in the 6th, we may be talking about the first no hitter ever in a pitcher's debut.
When Gullett took the mound this day, the Reds held a 5.5 game lead over the Dodgers with 11 games to play, so they pretty much had the division locked up. But it's still very impressive to throw a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts and no walks with your team depending on you that day.
As impressive as Cueto's debut was, Wayne Simpson managed to do just a bit better by throwing a 2-hit shutout and facing just 2 batters over the minimum. Even more impressive for Simpson was the fact that the Reds didn't score their first run until the 7th inning, so he needed to stay on his toes the entire time. Funny little tidbit: Simpson faced Don Sutton that day, the same pitcher that Danny Jackson beat 18 years later in game #10.
Seaver celebrated Caleb's wedding day with his only no-hitter of his career. It wasn't an incredibly impressive performance, but when an all-time great like Seaver throws a no-hitter, it's definitely noteworthy. Besides, I think Caleb would be greatly disappointed if I didn't include this one on the list.
What a weird season 1981 was. The Reds had the best record in baseball but didn't make the playoffs. The strike cut out a big chunk of the season. And Bruce Berenyi threw three shutouts where he allowed 2 hits or fewer. Strange days indeed. This one was particularly impressive because Berenyi didn't allow a runner to touch 2B and only faced one batter over the minimum. I wish I hadn't been too young to fully appreciate Berenyimania.
How bad were the 1982 Reds? Well, Mario Soto pitched a 3-hit shutout for 10 innings and got a no decision. Soto's outing earned a game score of 95, the highest total since 1969 for the Reds. And it was all for naught as the Reds ultimately lost the game 2-0 in 14 innings. Surprisingly, the manager didn't need to use another starting pitcher that game. Who knew that was possible?
It really was hard to pick which games to use from Maloney, but I figured I had to throw at least one of his no-hitters in here. Maloney's 13 Ks are tied for the most by a non-Hall of Fame pitcher or a pitcher not named Don Wilson. Impressive, huh?
This game really should be #1 on the list, but I couldn't bump Browning. How impressive was this start? Maloney took a no-hitter into the 11th inning, at which point he had 17 strikeouts and one walk. The home run he surrendered to Johnny Lewis was the first hit of the game for the Mets and it ended up being the winning run. This is the only game on the entire list where the pitcher took the loss. Maloney's 18 strikeouts still stands as the team record.
How could I not choose this game to be #1? The only perfect game in Reds history, and one of two games on the list I remember listening to on the radio (Cueto's start was just last year, duh). If anyone can make an argument why this shouldn't be #1 on the list, I'd like to hear it.
So, that's my list. Any games you think I missed? I'm sure there are plenty out there. Let me hear your favorites.