Our Favorite Games to Rewatch, Part 2

Yesterday, we introduced a few of our favorite games to rewatch, all of which shared a postseason theme. Today, we highlight six regular season contests, including a no-hitter, a perfect game, and a few more that either meant something special to the writer, or presented feats too intriguing to ignore. Enjoy, and be well. – Meg Rowley

Roy Halladay’s Perfect Game, May 29, 2010
One of the biggest influences in my life is my late grandfather, Pop-Pop. He had been a devout Phillies fan since 1950, and during the team’s late-2000s glory, I was lucky to share many joyous moments with him, including a championship in 2008.

I remember talking on the phone with Pop-Pop in 2009, when the Phillies had just traded for Cliff Lee. While he was certainly excited for another elite pitcher to aid in the postseason run, he felt that Philly had missed out on someone even better: Halladay. So when the Phillies ended up acquiring him that winter, my first move was to call my grandfather. My second was to order Halladay’s jersey.

In no time, the right-hander was my favorite baseball player. I tried to emulate his windup when pitching, wore his jersey every day he started, and begged my parents to let me stay past up past my bedtime when he was in the midst of one of his nine complete games in 2010.

I’ll never forget May 29. Naturally, I had donned Halladay’s jersey, and even oddly received a comment on it while my family was out shopping. “Are you a Phillies fan?” I was asked by a man trying to sell us furniture. “I love Roy Halladay. Nice jersey.”

That night, Halladay pitched a perfect game in Miami. From his first pitch, you could tell that everything was working; the repertoire was dominant. My dad said to me, “Devan, you have to go to bed once Halladay gives up a hit.” Of course, he never did.

Halladay tragically passed away two-and-a-half years ago. I was crushed. It’s hard to describe how I felt, losing this connection to my grandfather, to my childhood, to my baseball fandom. All I can do now is rewatch the game, shed some more tears, and rekindle my love for this sport that brings so many of us together. – Devan Fink

Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners, August 7, 2013
At the time, I was an intern for the Mariners, working as a minor league video coordinator for the club’s Northwest League affiliate in Everett. August 7 was one of the team’s few days off that year, and so I made plans with a friend to have our first date at the Mariners game that afternoon. As luck would have it, soon after making that arrangement, I heard from Everett’s manager that the Mariners planned to recognize the Aquasox that day with a pre-game celebration, and that we were all invited to watch the game from a suite with Seattle’s front office. What to do, what to do?

I realize this game lacks the gravitas that some of the others on this list do. This is a dog-days tilt between two sub-.500 teams playing out the string; nobody threw a perfecto, nor was any 100-year streak broken in dramatic fashion. It was a good game, though, and if you’re looking for something to watch and don’t want to know the final score yet, well, here you go. As an enthusiastic supporter of opening YouTube and selecting a random contest from the archives, you could do much worse.

As for me: I bailed on the Aquasox. I missed the chance to meet Jack Zduriencik, to watch a game in a suite, and gladhand with the people who would ultimately decide whether or not I could realize my dream of working in the front office of a major league baseball team. Life is full of tough choices.

I don’t regret that one though. Instead, every August 7, I pull up the highlights from this game and watch them with my wife. She never remembers what happened, nor who won. I suppose that’s part of the charm. – Brendan Gawlowski

Clayton Kershaw’s No-Hitter, June 18, 2014
From 2010-15, MLB had a run of 31 no-hitters. Practically once a month, an Edwin Jackson or a Philip Humber or an ace like Roy Halladay would capture lightning in a bottle. When the Dodgers’ Josh Beckett, whose career was on its last leg, spun one on May 25, 2014, it seemed like a cruel joke that teammate Clayton Kershaw, with a pair of Cy Young awards and three straight ERA titles collected through his age-25 season — arguably the best pitcher on the planet at the time — had never done it.

The 26-year-old ace finally had his moment on June 18 in Los Angeles, against a Rockies team sputtering back to earth after a hot start. Kershaw opened by catching Corey Dickerson looking at a high 2-2 curveball, and was off to the races. He struck out two more hitters apiece in the second and third innings, and after being staked to a seven-run lead cruised through the next two frames on just 19 pitches. After striking out the side in the sixth on 13 pitches, he’d totaled 10 K’s and 78 pitches — and had yet to allow a baserunner, let alone a hit. Perfection seemed attainable, and not just because Vin Scully was calling the game.

Alas, when Dickerson hit a chopper to Hanley Ramirez to lead off the seventh, the shortstop’s on-the-run throw skipped wide of first baseman Adrián González. Dickerson took second on the clear error, leaving the no-hitter intact, but spoiling the perfecto. Undaunted, Kershaw stranded the runner by sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a first-pitch out off the bat of hot-hitting Troy Tulowitzki. It was anything but routine, a smash down the third base line, backhanded by Miguel Rojas, who from foul territory threw a one-hopper that González scooped out of the dirt — the necessary defensive gem for any no-hitter.

Over the final two innings, Kershaw needed just 14 pitches but nonetheless struck out three, including Dickerson one last time to end the game. With his 15 strikeouts and no walks, his Game Score (the Bill James version) remains the second-highest of any you’ll find in the Baseball-Reference Play Index, behind only Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout one-hitter from 1998. And of the 14 Dodgers no-hitters Scully called during his remarkable 67-year career, this was the lone triumph from the era of social media and MLB.TV, easily available for all time with a few clicks of a button. That’s as close to perfection as one can get. – Jay Jaffe

Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves, April 22, 2014
The most electrifying pitching performance I’ve seen in person took place on April 22, 2014. I was in Atlanta for a college visit — my daughter was considering Emory University — and that evening, the family and I joined erstwhile FanGraphs prospect writer Mike Newman at Turner Field to see the Braves host the Miami Marlins.

The mound matchup was appealing, and it more than lived up to expectations. Atlanta’s Alex Wood was outstanding, and Miami’s 21-year-old José Fernández was nothing less than brilliant. In a game that only took two hours and eight minutes to play, the two teams combined for just seven hits and one run. Moreover, a total of 28 hitters went down on strikes, and none reached via a free pass.

My lasting memory isn’t the pitching lines. What I’ll long remember is the helplessness of Braves batters. Fernández — God rest his soul — was at his dominant best. – David Laurila

Seattle Mariners at Chicago Cubs, July 30, 2016
There are very few bright moments in the recent history of the Seattle Mariners. Sustained mediocrity interspersed with fleeting points of excitement. The 2016 season was one of those highlights, even if it ended in disappointment. But in July of that season, the postseason dream was still alive, faint as it was. The Mariners were five games back in the Wild Card race and had begun a series in Chicago against the eventual World Series champion Cubs at a critical juncture in the season.

After watching an ugly 12-1 loss in the first game, I remember listening to this Saturday afternoon contest on the long drive from Bellingham to Portland. The first seven innings featured a pitcher’s duel between Jake Arrieta and Wade Miley (in his last start for the Mariners before being traded away to Baltimore the next day). The slow rhythms of a baseball game fit the cadence of miles ticking by, but the eighth inning ratcheted up the excitement. The Mariners rallied to score three runs in the eighth, capped off by Leonys Martin’s go-ahead two-run double to the gap off Aroldis Chapman. My wife and I jumped up and down in our car as we sped down I-5. As soon as we arrived at our destination, I queued up the MLB.TV replay just to relive the victory.

This come-from-behind win was followed by a 20-game stretch where the Mariners went 14-6, launching them into the middle of the Wild Card conversation. They’d continue that momentum through September, eventually falling just a game shy of clinching a postseason berth. Revisiting this game now is a reminder of the buzz chasing the playoffs brings to the long days of summer, and rekindles the hope that one day the Mariners will finally catch that long elusive joy. – Jake Mailhot

Tampa Bay Rays at Atlanta Braves, June 15, 2010
I have no special connection to this game. I just went looking for the best Carl Crawford performance I could find, and I was lucky that this one also included lots of other wonderful stuff. This tilt takes place in the aftermath of Ken Griffey Jr.’s abrupt retirement, and amid the struggles of 38-year-old Chipper Jones, who was hitting .228 with just three home runs in 51 games at this point. The 10 minute pregame show, helmed by Ernie Johnson, weaves in mid-season Chipper retirement speculation in the wake of Griffey’s sudden exit, a discussion that occurs as Chipper and Billy Wagner — in what would be the last season of his career — chat side by side in the home dugout while rain falls on the field.

Then Johnson throws things to an episode of Seinfeld and a two hour, 20 minute rain delay ensues. For a truly transportive experience, I encourage watching an episode before you get to the meat of the game, which I remind you is all about Carl Crawford.

In the first two innings, Crawford’s speed is responsible for three bases. He runs 3.96 home-to-first on what’s ruled an E6 in the first inning, and then sprints 7.62 on a hustle double in the second, testing the arm of 20-year-old Jason Heyward. At one point, Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami catches Crawford leaning on a throw over, but Crawford somehow contorts his body, accelerating to the bag in time to get back in safely without even sliding. He’s soon plated by a two-run Evan Longoria homer (an aside: 24-year-old Longoria has incredible bat speed).

Bottom four, Crawford robs Gregor Blanco of a double by making a sliding catch on a sinking liner tailing away from him. In his third at-bat, he fights back from 0-2 to work a walk, then steals second despite a pitchout. In the sixth, he scores from second despite falling en route to the plate, simply because he’s able to juke Brian McCann (who has some great battles with David Price in this one) and dive in without being tagged. In the seventh, he triples. It’s a tour de force by one of the best athletes to play our game this century.

This one also has young David Price, who labors but shows glimpses of brilliance and whose fastball Chipper squares twice (once it finds a gap) before he homers from the other side of the plate later in the game. – Eric Longenhagen

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4 years ago

Thinking about going back and scoring some of these games (because no baseball)… Can anyone recommend a good scorecard for MLB games?