In baseball, postseaon games bear less resemblance to regular season games than in any other sport. One way is that the off days and "no tomorrow" mean that starting pitchers are available for relief duty.
Bumgarner completed his task of almost single-handedly lifting the Giants to victory with five shutout innings in Game 7 on the road, two days after throwing a complete game shutout. This probably takes the lead for me, considering both the stakes and the body of Bumgarner's work during that postseason.
Coming at the end of what may be the most dominant pitching season in memory, Pedro came out of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Indians with a back injury
He returned with 6 innings of no-hit relief to push the Red Sox to a 12-8 victory over the Tribe. The score indicates how desperate the Sox were for some innings.
The 2001 Diamondbacks had come down to be almost a 2 man team, with their two aces of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Their closer Byung-Hyun Kim, had blown two saves in spectacular fashion.
Johnson had pitched 7 innings in a 15-2 Snakes blowout, as analysts were screaming at Bob Brenly to take Johonson out of the game and save him for a possible relief appearance in Game 7.
The next night, Johnson came in to put out an eigth inning Yankee rally and pitched a perfect ninth before the Diamondbacks rallied in the ninth, giving Johnson his third win of the series.
Unlike the other pitchers on the list, Kershaw came into this game with something to prove, fairly or unfairly. He had been unlucky in his postseason starts, and the heorics of the other California lefthanded ace had set the bar high. And he passed the test with flying colors.
Kershaw may have been overshadowed by the performance of closer Kenley Jansen, who came into the game with two runners on and no outs in the 7th, and pitched 2 1/3 innings on a career high 51 pitches. And unlike the other pitchers here, this did not come at the end of a great season (for him).
It's funny. I remember from that year:
- Hershiser's record-setting scoreless streak to end the season.
- Dodgers closer Jay Howell getting suspended for pine tar on his glove.
- Hershiser dominating the A's in the World Series.
- My dad was a Mets fan
But I didn't remember Hershiser's relief appearance in Game 4. Likely because it was in the 12th inning of a night game and I was 13 at the time. But one day after pitching 7 innings on two days' rest, Orel Hershiser got the final out of Game 4.
There's been other outings, typically back-end starters who were only going to get one start in a series making appearances, but these are the ones that stick out.