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Yankees History: Red Ruffing does it all

Ruffing helped the Yankees along the way to the 1937 World Series by having a big day on the mound and at the plate.

Spring Training - New York Yankees Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images

The Yankees took Game 1 of the 1937 World Series over the Giants thanks to a big sixth inning, cruising to an 8-1 win. However the next day, things did not get off to the best start in Game 2.

Red Ruffing was on the mound, but within three batters, the Yankees were trailing. After striking out the first batter of the game, he allowed a double to Dick Bartell and a single to Mel Ott. Bartell scored and the Giants had an early lead as they tried to even the series.

However, the Giants would not even the series. Not only would they lose the game, but Ruffing’s own offensive output would top what the Giants did that day.

After Ott’s RBI single, Ruffing retired 13 of the next 14 he faced before getting into and working out of trouble in the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees got on the board after George Selkirk singled home a run. Two batters later, Ruffing was then due up to the plate with runners on first and second. He put the Yankees in the lead with an RBI single.

In the sixth, Ruffin got through Ott and the rest of the heart of the Giants’ order without any difficulty. The bottom of the inning then played out quite similarly to the bottom of the fifth. The Yankees put a couple runners on bringing up Selkirk in the order. The Yankees’ right fielder delivered, driving home two runs with a double. The Giants issued an intentional walk, working around Tony Lazzeri to get to Ruffing. That backfired, as Ruffing doubled. That scored another two runs, Ruffing now had 3 RBI, and the score was 6-1 Yankees.

The offense tacked on another two runs as Ruffing got through the seventh and eighth without much trouble. The Giants mustered a slight attempt at a rally in the ninth loading the bases. However, Ruffing got the outs needed to end the game without another run scoring. The Yankees won the game 8-1 and opened a 2-0 lead in the series.

Ruffing’s final line was a complete game, having allowed just one run on seven hits and three walks. That one run allowed was a third of the amount he drove in at the plate himself. He did enough on the mound that the Yankees probably would’ve won without his offensive contributions, but they also would’ve won if he was the only hitter to drive in runs.

A Yankees pitcher has driven in at least one run in a playoff game 31 times in franchise history. Ruffing’s Game 2 in 1937 was one of only four times that the pitcher drove home more runs than they allowed. It’s also the only time a Yankee pitcher recorded three RBI in one playoff game.

As impressive as his three RBI were, his pitching performance that day was probably even more important. It cemented the Yankees’ lead in the series, instead of the Giants evening things up. The Yankees won again the next day in Game 3, and finished off the series a couple days later in Game 5. It may have come in only four at-bats, but Ruffing’s 1.250 OPS was the second best of any Yankee hitter.

For a variety of reasons, it’s unlikely we’ll see a Yankee pitcher match Ruffing’s feat in Game 3 in ‘37 ever again.


Data courtesy of Baseball Reference Stathead