ATLANTA — Having had the pleasure of employing numerous Hall of Fame pitchers during a majority of their respective careers, the Braves have witnessed their fair share of great pitching performances. Some have created history during the regular season, while others have further enriched the franchise’s collection of great postseason memories.
1. Tom Glavine, Oct. 28, 1995 — The Game 6 Clincher
Glavine allowed one hit over eight scoreless innings and David Justice hit the solo homer that gave the Braves a 1-0 win over the Indians. The victory provided Atlanta with what stands as the city’s only World Series title.
Glavine’s gem against the powerful Indians lineup stands as one of the nine times a pitcher has allowed one hit or fewer and zero runs over eight innings of a playoff game. He is the only pitcher to do this during a World Series game. The only other pitcher to do this in a clinching situation was the Mets’ Bobby Jones, who tossed a one-hit shutout against the Giants in Game 4 of the 2000 National League Division Series.
“I don’t think we hit one ball hard off Glavine,” Indians manager Mike Hargrove told reporters after the game. “It was a tremendous performance.”
2. Warren Spahn, Sept. 16, 1960 — 16 K, no-hitter
While leading the Braves to a 4-0 win over the Phillies, Spahn became the first pitcher of the modern era to record at least 15 strikeouts in a no-hitter. More than 60 years later, this remains a rarity. Nolan Ryan has accounted for three of the seven times a pitcher has reached this strikeout total during a no-hitter. Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw have accounted for the two most recent occasions.
A pair of walks served as the only blemishes for Spahn, who was 39 years old when this first career no-hitter gave him his 287th career win and 51st career shutout. The Hall of Fame southpaw produced this dominant gem almost exactly a month after his longtime Braves rotation mate Lew Burdette had no-hit the Phillies.
“I’m just a copycat,” he told The Associated Press after the game. “But just don’t wake me up. I’m happy.”
Greg Maddux’s 14-strikeout gem against the Brewers — see No. 3 — and this Spahn masterpiece stand as the only two instances a Braves pitcher has surrendered two hits or less and recorded at least 14 strikeouts in a shutout.
3. Greg Maddux, May 2, 2001 — 14 K, 2-hitter
Five years after winning his fourth consecutive Cy Young Award, Maddux produced his most dominant start in a Braves uniform. The Hall of Famer recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts and tossed a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over the Brewers.
Devon White’s two-out double in the fourth and Jose Hernandez’s two-out single in the fifth accounted for Milwaukee’s only hits. As Maddux retired 13 straight to end the game, he struck out eight of the last 10 batters faced.
“I don’t think he can pitch any better than that,” Brewers manager Davey Lopes said after the game. “If he can, I sure don’t want to see it.”
4. Joe Oeschger, May 1, 1920 — 26-inning masterpiece
After Boston and Brooklyn tied 1-1 in a 26-inning game called due to darkness, James C. O’Leary of The Boston Globe wrote, “Joe Oeschger of the Braves and Leon Cadore of the Robins pitched the full 26 innings and undoubtedly established a record that will stand as long as they live.”
More than 100 years after this game’s completion, it remains the only one in which any pitcher of the modern era has completed more than 24 innings. The fact that both of these hurlers allowed just one run while logging nearly the equivalent of three regulation games will forever remain incredible, regardless of how the game and landscape continue to change.
While Cadore scattered 15 hits, Oeschger proved to be a little stingier, allowing just 13 of the 90 batters faced to reach (not counting two errors), with nine hits allowed and four walks issued. He surrendered a run in the fifth and then tossed 21 straight scoreless innings against the Robins, who would win the NL pennant a few months later.
Oeschger exited this record-setting outing with a 0.49 ERA through his first four starts (54 2/3 innings) of the season. He didn’t make his next appearance for another 12 days. But the marathon effort seemed to have a negative effect, as he allowed at least six earned runs while pitching seven innings or fewer in each of his next three starts.
5. Kevin Millwood, Oct. 6, 1999 — Near perfection
Some may believe Kent Mercker’s no-hitter deserved a spot on this list. But while issuing four walks during the no-no he threw at Dodger Stadium in 1994, Mercker was not necessarily as dominant as Millwood was while leading the Braves to 5-1 win over the Astros in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Millwood surrendered just one hit — Ken Caminiti’s second-inning solo home run — and recorded eight strikeouts over nine innings. The Astros, who had tagged Greg Maddux for 10 hits the previous day, generated just two baserunners. The other was Jeff Bagwell, who reached on Chipper Jones’ error in the seventh.
More than 20 years after this gem, it still stands as one of the 14 times in MLB history a pitcher has faced fewer than 30 batters while completing at least nine innings in a postseason game. The only other pitcher to since do this was Roy Halladay, who threw a perfect game in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS against the Reds.
“I can’t remember a postseason game [pitcher] being that dominant like that,” Caminiti told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.