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Fun with OOTP: “Murderer’s Row” aims to clinch Final Four berth

But Mickey Mantle’s 1958 team has other ideas

Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig 1929

Our All-Time Yankees Fantasy Showdown is speeding ahead with two Elite Eight matchups, which feature three Mickey Mantle teams and the iconic 1927 “Murderers’ Row” squad.

For the uninitiated, we’re using Out of the Park Baseball 21 to stage a simulated tournament between the Yankees’ best teams to see who reigns supreme. You can check out summaries of other second-round action here, here, here and here.

Let’s get to it.

(1) 1927 vs. (6) 1958

One of the last two No. 1 seeds remaining in the tournament, the “Murderers’ Row” team of 1927 squared off against the Mickey Mantle-led 1958 team in this Elite Eight matchup.

It was a seesaw battle from the beginning.

Hall of Fame center fielder Earle Combs got ’27 off to a good start, powering them to a 4-2 Game One victory with a 4-4 performance at the plate. Starter George Pipgras tamed 1958’s bats with a 6.2 IP, 10-strikeout outing. The ’58 bats struck back in a big way in Game Two, however, romping to a 10-2 win to even the series. Left fielder Norm Siebern went 4-6 and drove in three runs. Yogi Berra and Elston Howard both went 2-5, with Berra driving in three and Howard two.

Game Three went to 1927 by a 5-1 score, with Combs again playing a starring role with two hits and two RBI. Starter Herb Pennock combined with bullpen arms Urban Shocker and Bob Shawkey to stifle 1958’s offense.

But much like in Game Two, 1958’s bats refused to stay quiet for long, pounding their way to a 12-6 Game Four win in a performance that saw every batter contribute at least one hit and one RBI except, surprisingly, their star Mickey Mantle, who was blanked in both departments.

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Fifty-eight managed to keep the momentum going in Game Five, posting a 6-1 win behind another four-hit, multi-RBI night from Siebern, as well as 6.1 sparkling innings from starter Whitey Ford, who allowed a run on just two hits while striking out seven.

Staring elimination in the face, “Murderers’ Row” rallied for a 5-3 win in Game Six to send the series to the wire. The big blows came in the form of back-to-back homers by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the fifth inning off “Bullet” Bob Turley.

In Game Seven, 1927 scraped out a 7-4 win to advance into the Final Four. Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, ’27 plated four runs, helped on by a pair of RBI doubles from Gehrig and Joe Dugan. The Babe added an eighth-inning solo homer to provide some insurance. Ruth hit .320 over the seven games, with two home runs and four RBI, but it was Earle Combs, who hit .500 with two jacks and five RBI, who took home MVP honors.

1927 wins 4-3.

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(2) 1953 vs. (8) 1957

Well at least Mickey Mantle is guaranteed a slot in the Final Four, as this matchup features two teams from the same era. The only question is whether 1957, an eight seed that managed to upset both top-ranked 1939 and fourth-ranked 1950, could continue its Cinderella run.

Game One went to ’53, with starter Vic Raschi outdueling Whitey Ford en route to a 5-3 win. Yogi Berra had a pair of hits and both drove in and scored a run to boost 1953’s offense.

There was a good deal more drama in the series’ second game, which was knotted 1-1 after nine innings and would need three more to decide a winner. In the top of the 12th, 1957’s Mantle led off with a walk against Tom Gorman and came around to score on a Hank Bauer single off reliever Johnny Sain. Just two batters later, with the bases loaded, third baseman Andy Carey took Sain deep to left for a grand slam and a five-run lead. The game ended at 6-1 in favor of ’57.

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Fifty-three rebounded decisively from the extra-inning disappointment to take Game Three 10-1. Mantle and Yogi Berra each pounded out three hits and had multiple RBI. They continued their hot hitting, each going deep and racking up two hits in Game Four en route to an 8-5 win that put 1953 on the cusp of the Final Four.

They didn’t fool around in Game Five, coasting to an 11-4 win to close out the series. Berra, whose three-run homer in the third inning was his fourth of the series, won MVP, batting .455 and driving in eight. Mantle also dominated, hitting .409 with a homer and four RBI.

1953 wins 4-1.

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