The best-pitched game of all time took place 100 years ago. To celebrate, we dig into the best pitching performances of this century.
One hundred years ago today, the two best pitching performances ever were thrown in the same game.
Oeschger’s 26 innings of one-run, nine hit, four-walk, seven-strikeout ball earned him baseball’s best game score ever: 153. Cadore allowed a run on 15 hits while walking five and punching out seven. His game score is 140.
To celebrate the best pitching performances of all time, we took a look at Baseball Reference and looked up the highest game scores of the 21st century.
While nothing is likely to top that wild game 100 years ago, here are the best pitching performances of recent history:
Max Scherzer’s Second No Hitter — October 3, 2015
Not only is Scherzer’s no-hitter on the final day of the 2015 season the best game thrown this century, but according to Baseball Reference, Scherzer’s performance earned him a game score of 104, the highest this century.
The only thing that kept him from a perfect game was an error by Yunel Escobar to start the sixth inning. Scherzer than retired the next 12 batters he faced.
Scherzer struck out 17 batters, which is tied for the most ever in a no-hitter (Nolan Ryan did it in three of his seven no-nos).
This was also Scherzer’s second-no hitter of the season. He no-hit the Pirates on June 20 of that year. He faced 28 batters in that game, too.
Scherzer was down to his final strike to complete the perfect game. He then hit Jose Tabata. Was it bush league? You be the judge.
Clayton Kershaw’s No Hitter — June 18, 2014
Kershaw owns the second-best game score of the century. He, like Scherzer, was the victim of an error that kept him from a perfect game.
Hanley Ramirez committed a throwing error to lead off the top of the seventh inning. Kershaw then went nine up, nine down immediately after.
Kershaw punched out 15 batters, which is still a career-high for the future Hall of Famer. He also punched out 15 a year later against the Giants.
Matt Cain’s Perfect Game — June 13, 2012
Up until Kershaw’s no-hitter, Matt Cain’s perfect game was in the conversation as the best game thrown this century.
Cain struck out 14 Houston Astros at then-AT&T Park, which was tied for the most ever in a perfect game. Sandy Koufax accomplished the feat on September 9, 1965. Had he not thrown 125 pitches, the most ever in a perfect game, it might undoubtedly be the best game ever pitched.
Justin Verlander’s Third No-Hitter — September 1, 2019
Verlander became the sixth pitcher with at least three no hitters when he accomplished the feat at Rogers Centre last season.
Verlander punched out 14 batters and walked just one. Cavan Biggio walked in the very first inning. Verlander then retired the next 26 batters he faced.
Randy Johnson’s Perfect Game — May 18, 2004
Johnson became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game in 2004. He was 40 years young when he tossed the 17th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.
Johnson struck out 13 Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Gerrit Cole’s One-Hitter — May 4, 2018
Cole punched out a career-high 16 Diamondbacks when he allowed just one hit and one walk in his seventh start as an Astro.
Cole was retired the first nine batters he faced before walked David Peralta to open up the fourth. He then allowed a double to Chris Owings in the fifth. He retired the final 14 batters he faced.
Max Scherzer’s One-Hitter — June 14, 2015
In the start prior to Scherzer’s almost-perfect game, he struck out a then career-best 16 Brewers at Miller Park while walking one and allowing just one hit.
In this outing, Scherzer was perfect through six innings before allowing a single to Carlos Gomez to start the seventh. He walked Scooter Gennett in the eighth.
So in back-to-back starts, Scherzer faced 57 batters, just three more than the possible minimum he could have faced, while averaging 13 strikeouts, 0.5 walks, and 0.5 hits a game.
Scherzer was four batters away from throwing three perfect games in 2015. No one in baseball history has thrown two.
Brandon Morrow’s 17-K One-Hitter — August 8, 2010
In just his 37th career start, Morrow pitched the game of his life. Morrow struck out a career-high 17 batters – his previous high was nine, just one start prior – while walking two.
In his next start, he had just two strikeouts in four innings. Morrow struck out 10 or more batters just eight times in his career.
Curt Schilling’s Second One-Hitter — April 7, 2002
Schilling’s best game of his career game in his second start since winning a World Series. In his first start of the 2002 season, he posted seven shutout innings while striking out nine.
In his second start, he racked up 17 strikeouts, the most of his career, while walking just two.
The lone hit was allowed in just the third inning. Schilling allowed his second walk to open up the sixth inning.
It’s one of just eight games where Schilling faced no more than 29 batters in a nine-inning performance.