Top 5 games by a hurler in Guardians history

November 23rd, 2021

CLEVELAND – The Guardians franchise certainly hasn't struggled with receiving dominant pitching performances over the years, but which games stand out as the best of the best? Let’s take a look at the top five single-game outings by a hurler in franchise history:

1. Len Barker: May 15, 1981 vs. Blue Jays
It’s a feat that’s been accomplished just 23 times in AL/NL history, and on May 15, 1981, Barker penciled his name onto the exclusive list. On a cold, rainy Friday night at Cleveland Stadium, Barker took the rubber against the Blue Jays in front of just 7,290 fans. Throwing 103 pitches, he recorded 27 outs without allowing a baserunner, becoming just the second pitcher in club history to toss a perfect game.

Barker struck out 11 batters and got most of his other outs on the ground, as just five batters flew out to the outfield. One of those flyouts came on the final out of the game, when Barker got Ernie Whitt to fly out to Rick Manning in center. Manning made the catch and leapt off the ground in celebration, as the rest of the team – and some fans in the stands – rushed to the mound to dogpile Barker. The man of the hour was escorted into the dugout, as the scoreboard read, “Take a bow.”

2. Addie Joss: Oct. 2, 1908 vs. White Sox
Now, we move to the first perfect game in club history. Joss led the Naps in a tight pitchers' duel against Chicago’s Ed Walsh. Walsh limited Cleveland to just one unearned run on four hits with 15 strikeouts through eight innings, but Joss bested his efforts by tossing nine perfect innings with three strikeouts on just 76 pitches. Joss became just the second pitcher in the modern era (after Cy Young) to pitch a perfect game.

It was a crucial win for the Naps, who entered play a half-game back of the Tigers in first and one game up on the White Sox in third with just six games left in the season. Cleveland ended up going 2-2-1 after Joss’ efforts and ended up losing the pennant by a half-game to Detroit.

3. Corey Kluber: May 13, 2015 vs. Cardinals
There may be 12 other no-hitters in franchise history (not including the two perfect games), but Kluber’s one-hit performance against the Cardinals still ranks above all of those on this list. Fresh off his first AL Cy Young season, Kluber, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh, made arguably the best start in his career, striking out 18 batters while allowing no walks in eight innings. Kluber is the only pitcher in franchise history to strike out more than 15 batters in fewer than nine frames. His 18 K’s are tied for the second most in a single outing in franchise history with Bob Feller (18 strikeouts in nine frames), trailing Luis Tiant (19 strikeouts in 10 frames).

Kluber’s Game Score, which measures a pitcher’s performance in any given game started on a scale of 0-100 (except for extreme outliers), was a 98, tying Barker and the two remaining hurlers on this list for the highest in franchise history in a nine-inning outing or shorter.

4. Dennis Eckersley: May 30, 1977 vs. Angels
Eckersley was responsible for one of the franchise's 14 no-hitters. The right-hander came one walk away from perfection, as he tossed nine hitless frames with 12 strikeouts against the Angels. After his first-inning walk, Eckersley was lights-out all the way through the final out when he fanned Gil Flores in the top of the ninth to secure his no-hitter. He leaped from the mound in excitement as catcher Ray Fosse ran out to give him a big bear hug. His performance granted him a 98 Game Score, which is among the four-way tie for the highest in club history in a nine-inning outing or shorter.

5. Carlos Carrasco: Sept. 25, 2015 at Kansas City
And here’s the final piece of the four-way Game Score tie at 98. It may not be a no-hit performance, but Carrasco dazzled at Kauffman Stadium, permitting just one hit with two walks and 15 strikeouts on 113 pitches in Cleveland's 6-0 victory. Carrasco became the first pitcher in franchise history to fan at least 15 batters in a shutout consisting of no more than one hit allowed, and his strikeout of Jonny Gomes in the second inning marked his 200th of the ‘15 season.

Honorable mention

Bob Feller -- April 16, 1940: Over 80 years later and Feller is still the only pitcher in AL/NL history to toss a no-hitter on Opening Day.

Josh Tomlin -- June 28, 2014: A fifth-inning hit by Seattle’s Kyle Seager stood between Tomlin and a no-hitter. Tomlin fanned 11 batters with no walks in nine innings on 111 pitches.

Luis Tiant -- July 3, 1968: This was briefly mentioned above, but Tiant’s 10-inning shutout against Minnesota can’t be ignored. He allowed six hits with no walks and 19 strikeouts and had a Game Score of 100.

Willis Hudlin -- Aug. 24, 1935: We’ve talked about the top four Game Scores in outings that were nine innings or shorter, but this list can’t be complete without Hudlin, who owns the highest Game Score in franchise history. He tossed 15 shutout innings with one walk and six strikeouts against the Philadelphia Athletics, earning him a 106 Game Score.