The grudge World Series, Game Five

Down three games to one in the 1958 World Series, the New York Yankees turned to Bob Turley. The right-hander had gone 21-7 with a 2.97 ERA during the regular season. At Yankee Stadium, where Game 5 was to be played, he was even better (10-2, 2.45). Turley had also faced only five batters before being chased in Game 2, so his three days of rest since that outing were plenty.

Braves starter Lew Burdette had faced 34 batters in Game 2, at least ten more than he should have, given the massive lead his team carried into the late innings. But Burdette had a 4-0 record against the Yankees in 1957-58, including two shut-outs.

A modern manager in Fred Haney’s position might have considered holding Burdette back at Yankee Stadium. That way, even if the Yankees kept the Series alive the Braves would return to Milwaukee needing just one win with a fresh Burdette (five days rest) and a reasonably rested Spahn (three days) available to start Games 6 and 7 respectively. Bob Buhl was injured and Bob Rush had started Game 3, but Haney had two good starters available, right-hander Carl Willey (9-7, 2.70) and left-hander Juan Pizarro (6-4, 2.70).

It’s unlikely, however, that Haney ever considered not starting Burdette. Three days rest was fairly standard for top pitchers in the World Series at the time; five days might been viewed as excessive. Moreover, Burdette seemed to have the Yankees’ number. Why not try to finish off the Series in New York?

Burdette seemed up to the task early on. In the first five innings, he gave up only one run, a McDougald home run. Turley was even better, giving up no runs through six frames.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees finally chased their nemesis, scoring six runs in the process. Hank Bauer, continuing his great Series, started things off with a single. The inning also featured an RBI double by Berra (2-17 in the Series until then and hitless in his previous 14 at-bats), a two run double by McDougald, and a two run single by Turley. The latter two hits came off Pizarro, who replaced Burdette. (Although Haney’s decision to bring on the left-handed Pizarro to face the right-handed hitting McDougald didn’t work out, it doesn’t seem like a blunder; McDougald hit righties as well as he hit lefties and Pizarro was effective against righties).

Turley cruised home with a five-hit shut-out. The final score was 7-0. The teams would take a day off for travel and then finish up in Milwaukee where the Yanks needed to win two games in a row or face another winter of discontent.

To comment on this post, go here.


Books to read from Power Line