A look at the most dominating pitching performances in Fenway Park’s first 100 years:
Ernie Shore, Red Sox, June 23, 1917
After issuing a four-pitch walk to Senators leadoff batter Ray Morgan, Sox starter Babe Ruth was ejected for arguing with (and throwing a few punches at) plate umpire Brick Owens, prompting an unexpected relief appearance from 26-year-old Ernie Shore. The righthander entered with no time to warm up and Morgan was quickly erased while trying to steal second. He was the last Washington player to reach base. Shore retired the next 26 batters and the Sox picked up a 4-0 win. For a long time, Shore was credited with throwing a perfect game, but Major League Baseball later downgraded the effort to a combined no-hitter with Ruth, even though Shore was on the mound for all 27 outs.
Roger Clemens, Red Sox, April 29, 1986
The masterpiece of Clemens’s MVP season came in his fourth start. The Mariners must have sensed a long night ahead when The Rocket struck out the side in the first inning, all swinging. Then came two more K’s in the second, and one in the third. Clemens fanned the side in the fourth, the last out coming after first baseman Don Baylor botched a foul pop. Plate umpire Vic Voltaggio raised his arm three times for strike three in the fifth. Clemens made it eight straight strikeouts in the sixth. Armed with a 3-1 lead, the 23-year-old righthander kept the K’s coming, tying the nine-inning record of 19 with his first out of the ninth and then getting No. 20 with a called strike three of the next batter, Phil Bradley.
From April 30, 1986: Clemens fans a record 20 batters
Roger Clemens, Blue Jays, July 12, 1997
Consider this the original “Twilight” saga. Deemed expendable by Sox general manager Dan Duquette following the 1996 season (his fourth straight campaign beneath his lofty standards), Clemens instantly rediscovered his dominance with Toronto and had a 13-3 record and 1.69 ERA entering his first Fenway start as an opponent. Fenway was abuzz for the Rocket’s return and the crowd was in a frenzy after the first three Sox batters reached for a 1-0 lead. Clemens then channeled his eagerness into a spectacular show, allowing just two more hits over eight innings while striking out 16. Feeling vindicated, he walked off the mound and glared upward in Duquette’s direction.
From July 13, 1997: Rocket re-entry: Clemens KO’s 16 in return
Pedro Martinez, Red Sox, July 23, 2000
Two months after striking out 17 in a 1-0 loss to the lowly Devil Rays at Fenway, Martinez blanked the team with the best record in baseball, the White Sox, 1-0, in equally fine fashion. The wiry righthander poured over a remarkable 95 strikes, in 131 pitches. He whiffed 15, having at least one strikeout in every inning but the first. Of the six hits he allowed, he struck out the next batter four times. He walked none thanks to having just one three-ball count through eight innings. The heart of Chicago’s lineup put the tying run on base twice in the final two innings, but Martinez struck out the side in the eighth and survived a leadoff double in the ninth by registering his final two outs via swinging strikeouts.
Mike Mussina, Yankees, September 2, 2001
This was more than your typical Sunday night showdown. Two of the top pitchers of their generation, David Cone for the Sox and Mike Mussina for the Yankees, matched zeros into the ninth, yet Mussina was historically great. He struck out five of his first six batters, didn’t allow a ball out of the infield until the sixth, and was perfect through eight innings. New York finally broke through against Cone in the ninth for the game’s only run (unearned at that). The stage was left to Mussina. He retired pinch hitter Troy O’Leary on a ground out and whiffed Lou Merloni. Pinch hitter Carl Everett fell behind, 1 and 2, before dumping a single into left-center to ruin Mussina’s perfect game. He settled for a one-hit shutout with 13 K’s.