Dodgers: Top 5 Single-Game Strikeout Performances
In a season where the opener is becoming more of a norm for teams, Walker Buehler gave MLB fans a 1968-level dose of starting pitching mastery this past Friday. Matt Beaty’s walk-off sealed it as the game of the season so far, and thus put Buehler in some prestigious company. Here are the most strikeouts in a single game by Dodger pitchers.
5. Walker Bueher (2019) – 16
After scuffling a bit early this season due to his delayed spring training, Buehler finally kicked up his swing-and-miss stuff to its fullest potential yet. With a fastball blazing at 99 MPH and his breaking pitches just as untouchable, the cocky righty from Vanderbilt stretched 16 strikeouts across nine complete innings. The only downside was solo homers by Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. But that just made the complete-game victory better when it came on Beaty’s two-run shot in the ninth.
One way of illustrating how special this was: three days after the anniversary of Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter, Buehler managed to strike out one more batter than the GOAT did in that once-in-a-lifetime gem.
4. Hideo Nomo (1996) – 17
Hideo Nomo in 1996 is defined first and foremost by his borderline impossible no-hitter at Coors Field in September. Strangely, that might not even have been his best performance that season. Early on in April, the Japanese righty picked up where he left off from his Rookie of the Year season at home against the Marlins. In a 3-1 CG victory, he fanned 17 Marlins, allowing just three hits and a solitary run.
3. Dazzy Vance (1925) – 17
Long before Newcombe, Koufax, Drysdale, Valenzuela, Hershiser or Kershaw, Dazzy Vance was the godfather of Dodger royalty on the pitcher’s mound. Despite a litany of injuries, the resilient ace forged a Hall of Fame career, winning the NL MVP Award in 1924.
1925 was also an especially good year for burly Iowan, tossing a no-hitter against Philadelphia in September, Two months before that on July 20, he muscled 17 strikeouts against St. Louis. In terms of sheer dominance, Vance’s effort wasn’t spotless, walking six and giving up three earned runs. But coming across 10 innings, it was all the more impressive coming against a tough Cardinals offense that would win the World Series the following year. Hall of Famers Jim Bottomley and Rogers Hornsby were both rung up three times.
Like Buehler’s recent masterpiece, he received the win on a walk-off hit, this one an RBI single in the 10th inning. One big difference, though: it was Vance himself who notched that RBI, his third of the day. Just as he was the original Dodger ace, old Dazzy was also an original Dodger Pitcher Who Rakes.
2. Sandy Koufax (1959 and 1962) – 18
No one can be surprised that Koufax makes this list, and for two separate games no less. The first was in August 1959. In the midst of the first championship season in Los Angeles, Koufax took down 18 San Francisco Giants batters for a 5-2 complete-game victory, tying Bob Feller’s MLB record and setting the highest mark in the NL. This was especially important since the two teams were almost identical in record as the final month of the regular season was approaching.
For an account of the game from Vin Scully himself, check out the beginning of the video below:
Having set the National League record, it only made sense that Koufax matched it. In his breakout season of 1962, he did it right away in April. Facing the Cubs at Wrigley Field, he notched a strikeout in every inning except the sixth. The offense poured on 10 runs for an easy 10-2 victory, and the legend of Koufax would continue the rest of the season.
1. Ramon Martinez (1990) – 18
When one thinks of the Dodgers and a pitcher with the Martinez surname, the first thought to come to mind is obviously the historic blunder of trading Pedro for Delino DeShields. As such, it’s easy to overlook the highlights of his older brother, Ramon. He pitched a no-hitter that was almost a perfect game in 1995, but that arguably wasn’t even his greatest moment.
That was in 1990, his breakout year. He won 20 games, was an All-Star, and finished second to Pittsburgh’s Doug Drabek for the NL Cy Young Award. His finest hour occurred on June 4, facing the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium. Not only did he tie Koufax’s 18-strikeout mark, but he pitched a 6-0 shutout, whereas Koufax allowed two runs in both of his aforementioned games. The first six outs were all K’s, and every inning had one save for the ninth. Martinez also became just the third pitcher under the age of 23 to have 18 whiffs in a single game.
Great post Marshall. I had forgotten Nomo’s gem!
Hideo’s, 1 of many achievements. His talents comes from his heart.