Professional athletes amaze us all the time with their skills on the court, but sometimes just being on the court is a mind-blowing feat.
Whether battling illness or injury, the players have shown the ability to not only turn up, but also rise and deliver, despite their physical condition that would keep most of us confined to the couch. Perhaps the most famous example is Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” in the 1997 NBA Finals, but baseball has also had its fair share of admiring performances at well under 100%.
Here are some of the greatest ill or injured player performances in MLB history.
Max Scherzer, Game 7 of the 2019 World Series
Scherzer’s neck and right shoulder locked and left him virtually immobile in his throwing arm the morning of Game 5 of the World Series, forcing Joe Ross to an emergency start in a contest the Astros won for take a three game to two home lead for the Games. 6 and 7. But Scherzer surprised many when he pitched on the pitch before Game 6, and when teammate Strasbourg helped the Nationals win this contest to force a Game 7, Scherzer took the ball.
The right-hander was far from the sharpest of the winner, walking four Astros, allowing seven hits and struggling with his command from the start. But despite numerous close calls, Scherzer gutted and held the mighty Astros to just two runs in five innings, starting with a 2-0 deficit. Scherzer’s teammates picked it up from there, scoring six runs over the final three innings as the Nats won their first title.
Stephen Strasbourg, Game 4 of the 2017 National League Division Series
Strasburg was very ill with flu-like symptoms the day before the start of what became a must-see 2017 NL Championship Series Game 4 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But despite yet to recover, he took the mound for the Nats and made a brilliant effort to help Washington force a fifth game, giving up just three hits while striking out 12 in seven. goalless innings.
Kyle Schwarber, 2016 World Series
Schwarber collided with teammate Dexter Fowler in the outfield in only his second game of the season and tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee. Almost everyone thought Schwarber would miss the rest of the 2016 season, but he made a quick and unexpected recovery and returned to play the starring role in the Cubs’ historic World Series triumph.
Schwarber started as Chicago’s designated hitter in Game 1 and hit a brace against the wall, making him the first player to get his first World Series hit of the season. He had seven hits in the series, including three in Game 7, as the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years.
Pablo Sandoval, Game 4 of the 2014 World Series
Almost two years to the day after winning the 2012 World Series MVP award, Sandoval had caught a bad cold and was unable to participate in his usual pre-game activities before Game 4 of the 2014 World Series against the Royals.
In the end, Sandoval delivered a pair of hits, including a sixth-inning two-run single that proved to be the difference as San Francisco tied the series, eventually winning it in seven games for a third title. in five seasons.
2008 World Series Game 3 Jamie Moyer
Moyer’s Phillies were tied after two games against the Rays when the 45-year-old’s turn came. Unfortunately for the southpaw, his long-awaited debut in the Fall Classic coincided with a severe stomach bug that left him in bad shape the day before his Game 3 start. His wife, Karen, told the journalist Ken Rosenthal that Moyer was “the sickest I have ever seen him in 22 years”.
Still, Moyer never considered not pitching. Instead, he gave Philly a quality start in 6 1/3 innings, starting in the lead. As the bullpen gave up on that, Moyer’s club won the game and the series.
Curt Schilling, Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series
The greatest playoff comeback in baseball history wouldn’t have happened without Schilling and his bloody sock in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. As the Red Sox tried to make it three straight against New York after losing 3-0 in the series, Schilling took the mound at Yankee Stadium with a torn tendon sheath sutured to the skin of his right ankle.
The right-handed veteran had to push that ankle to deliver a pitch 99 times in this must-win contest, and gave up just one run on four hits over seven innings to help Boston force a Game 7, which he would win for move on to the World Series. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals for their first championship in 86 years.
Pedro Martinez, 1999 ALDS Game 5
Pedro was at the absolute peak of his powers in 1999, when he had one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, however, his start in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Indians lasted only four innings due to a strained back muscle. By the time win-win Match 5 played out, Martinez hadn’t reappeared in the series, and again, he didn’t start.
But with the game tied 8-8 down the fourth, he came out of the bullpen. “I put my career in danger,” Martinez would say years later. The gamble paid off, as he tossed six no-hitter innings against a stacked Cleveland roster to help lift Boston into the ALCS.
Kevin Brown, 1997 NLCS Game 6
After winning Game 1 of the NLCS in Atlanta, Brown contracted the flu and fought it off as the teams split the next four games. As the series returned to Atlanta for Game 6, Brown boarded a flight “looking gaunt and tired,” according to a New York Times report. That didn’t stop the right-hander from dumping 140 pitches in a comprehensive victory, edging out Hall of Famer Tom Glavine as the Marlins clinch the pennant.
Kirk Gibson, 1988 World Series Game 1
It is quite simply one of the most iconic moments in sports history. The 1988 NL MVP Award winner for the Dodgers injured both knees in that year’s NLCS against the Mets, leaving Game 7 in the fourth inning. The World Series against the A favorites began just three days later, and Gibson was not physically able to start. Instead, he stayed in the Dodgers clubhouse, freezing his diseased legs.
But with Los Angeles trailing by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning, a runner on base and two outs, Gibson hobbled to the plate against closer star Dennis Eckersley. A 3-2 slider backed onto the plate, and Gibson somehow tossed it into the right field bleachers at Dodger Stadium for a home run. Gibson slowly rounded the bases, pumping his arm in celebration.
“In a year that has been so unlikely, the impossible has happened,” Vin Scully said.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., April 13, 2022
Guerrero had his right hand stomped by the Yankees’ Aaron Hicks as Hicks crossed the sack from first base on an infield single during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Guerrero’s hand was bloody and as he entered the Blue Jays dugout, it appeared for a moment that he might not return.
Then, he returned to the field, and no one knew what he would do next – after hitting a solo home run against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in the first inning, Guerrero showed up at the plate against the hard right throw-hander again in the third, and again took it deep. It was a 98 mph fastball off the inside plate that actually seemed to block Guerrero a bit, and he smashed it into the left field wall with an exit speed of 109.1 mph, according to Statcast, exactly the same exit speed as his first homer of the night.
After a brace in the sixth inning, Guerrero became the second-youngest player in AL/NL history to record his second career three-home run game when he smashed a laser into the wall in left field. Jonathan Loáisiga to lead the eighth. This circuit had an exit speed of 114.4 mph.
At 23 years and 28 days, Guerrero was older than Boog Powell, who played two three-home run games at the age of 22 years and 315 days on June 27, 1964. It was an incredible night for one of the most incredible baseball players.
Max Scherzer, June 19, 2019
Scherzer suffered a broken nose from a batting practice accident in which he snatched a ball to his face ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled game against the Phillies. But that didn’t stop him from taking the mound in Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader and dominating the Philadelphia batters for seven scoreless innings in the Nationals’ 2-0 victory. With a four-seam fastball averaging 96.2 mph, Scherzer struck out 10 in a memorable and daring performance.
Shohei Ohtani, September 5, 2018
On the same day he was told he would need Tommy John surgery, two-way star Shohei Ohtani came out and delivered an incredible performance with his bat, hitting two home runs in a four-hit game. against the Rangers. After the season, he had surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, sidelining him until May this year. But not before he added another amazing moment to his American League Rookie of the Year award campaign.
Mark Teixeira, August 20, 2007
Teixeira was suffering from a 24-hour stomach bug but was part of the Braves’ starting lineup against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. And for the second game in a row, he hit two home runs in a 14-4 win at Atlanta.