The Grudge World Series, Game Seven

Game 7 of the 1958 World Series pitted Don Larsen against Lew Burdette. Larsen would be pitching on four days of rest; Burdette only two. In the 1957 Series, Burdette had pulled the same “shift” – Games 2, 5, and 7 – and in Game 7 had shut-out the Yanks. Moreover, Fred Haney didn’t have any compelling alternatives to Burdette. Spahn had pitched nine plus innings just the day before; Buhl was unavailable due to injury. That left Rush, Willey, and Pizarro – all pretty good pitchers, but none of Burdette’s caliber. Thus, even though the Yankees had “solved” Burdette in Game 5, it was reasonable for Haney to have him start Game 7, provided he was prepared to pull Burdette as soon as he showed signs of tiring.

Like Game 6, the seventh game got off to an eventful start. In the first inning, Milwaukee loaded the bases with one out on a Schoendienst single, and walks to Burton and Aaron. Covington then drove in the first run on a groundball out. With runners on second and third, the Yankees walked the slumping Mathews (dropped to sixth in the line-up). Larsen was then able to strike out Crandall.

The Yankees responded with two runs in the top of the second, both unearned. A walk to Berra was followed by back-to-back errors by Frank Torre. Lumpe drove in Berra with a ground-out and Kubek hit a sacrifice fly.

The score was 2-1 Yankees in the bottom of the third when Bruton led off with a single. After Torre popped out, Aaron singled Bruton to second.

At this point, Stengel removed Larsen and brought in Turley. It wasn’t a move every manager would make. Larsen had only given up one run, though he allowed three hits and walked two (plus the intentional pass). Moreover, Turley had pitched nine innings in Game 5 and had worked in relief in Game 6, just the day before. But Turley had been outstanding all year and had the hot hand now. Like Haney, if Stengel were to lose he would go down with his best.

Turley retired Covington on a grounder, with the runners advancing to second and third. The Yankees walked Mathews intentionally again and retired Crandall on a ground ball that deflected off of Turley’s glove and was handled by McDougald.

Crandall had now left six runners stranded in the game. But in the sixth inning, with the Braves still trailing 2-1, Crandall tied the game with a two-out home run.

The score remained 2-2 going into the top of the eighth. Burdette had not given up an earned run and had allowed but three hits. Since coming on with one out in the third, Turley had given up one run on one hit (Crandall’s homer).

Burdette retired McDougald and Mantle to start the eighth, but Berra doubled to right and Howard singled him home. After Carey singled Howard to third, if not before, one would have expected Haney to conclude that Burdette was out of gas. Haney, though, kept his ace in to face Skowron. The “Moose” homered to make it 6-2 New York.

Turley breezed through the eighth in one-two-three fashion. In the ninth, the Braves put two runners on (Mathews with another walk and pinch-hitter Adcock with a two-out single). But Turley got Schoendienst on a liner to Mantle to end the Series.

Burdette and Turley both had given their teams around seven innings of great work despite their lack of rest. The difference was that this was all Stengel asked of Turley.

For only the second time in World Series history a team had rallied to victory after being down three games to one. The Yankees had avenged their 1957 defeat. For the seventh time in ten years (and eighth in twelve), they were the champions.

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