Eliminate The Playoffs: 1974

Baltimore Orioles vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The 1974 Baltimore Orioles finished the regular season with the American League’s best mark, beating out the Oakland A’s by a single game in the standing. Thanks to the playoffs, the Athletics defeated the Orioles, three games to one, in 1974 en route to their World Series championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, how would the Orioles have fared against the Dodgers in the World Series? Los Angeles posted the best record in the National League at 102-60, with the Cincinnati Reds finishing four games back. Let’s continue our look into how the World Series should have looked, if we would Eliminate The Playoffs.

Game 1

The 1974 World Series opens up with Game 1 in Los Angeles. Baltimore starts Ross Grimsley (18-13, 3.07), while Los Angeles sends Andy Messersmith (20-6, 2.59) to the mound. After a scoreless first inning, the first run of the game is scored in the top of the 2nd. With one out, Boog Powell singles, then moves to second on Earl Williams’ walk. Powell advances to third base on a fielder’s choice and then crosses the plate when Messersmith balks. Orioles lead 1-0.

Baltimore strikes again in the top of the 3rd, when Grimsley himself launches a lead off home run 426 feet into center. Orioles lead 2-0. The two pitchers would duel for most of the game, with Grimsley not giving up a hit to the Dodgers, and the 2-0 score remained as we go to the bottom of the 7th inning. Bill Buckner leads off the inning with a base hit, which breaks up Grimsley’s no-hit bid. Buckner steals second base and advances to third base on catcher Joe Ferguson’s throwing error. Jim Wynn grounds out to short, allowing Buckner to make it home. But the Dodgers continue to struggle against Grimsley and the one run is all they can manage. The next two innings are equally uneventful and Baltimore holds on to win the game, 2-1. Baltimore leads the series, 1-0.

Game 2

For Game 2, the Baltimore Orioles send Jim Palmer (7-12, 3.27) to the hill. Prior to 1974, Palmer had put up four 20-win seasons for the Orioles from 1970-1973. But in 1974, Palmer missed two months in the middle of the season due to a sore arm. Tommy John (13-3, 2.59) is on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game is scoreless for the first three innings. But the Orioles change that in the top of the 4th inning. Bobby Grich triples and scores on Paul Blair’s double. Boog Powell scores Blair and himself with a two run shot over the right field wall. Orioles lead 3-0.

Baltimore manages another run in the top of the 5th inning. Don Baylor singles, then steals second. Baylor would score on Brooks Robinson’s grounder into right to make it 4-0, Baltimore. Los Angeles would get on the board in the bottom half of the 5th, when Ron Cey leads off the inning with a home run into left center to make it 4-1. But the Dodgers continue to struggle against Palmer. Baylor adds a home run in the top of the 7th inning and the Orioles win 5-1 on 14 hits. Palmer pitches a complete game, allowing seven hits, striking out five and walking one. Baltimore leads the series 2-0.

Game 3

Down 2-0 in the series, the Dodgers turn to Don Sutton (19-9, 2.08) for Game 3. The Orioles send Mike Cuellar (22-10, 3.11) out to start. The return to Baltimore is a good one for the Orioles. Baltimore would get on the board early in this one. Don Baylor reaches base on an error on Dodger shortstop Bill Russell. Tommy Davis makes Los Angeles pay for the error, hitting a two run shot over the left field wall. Two batters later, Paul Blair singles and later scores on Brooks Robinson’s double. At the end of the 1st inning, the Orioles lead 3-0.

Baltimore’s hot bats would continue, as they score two more runs on four hits in the 2nd inning to make it 5-0. In the bottom of the 4th, with two outs, Tommy Davis singles. Bobby Grich walks, which brings up Paul Blair. Blair strokes a double into left, scoring Davis. In what may have been the lone highlight for the Dodgers, Bill Buckner throws out Grich at the plate for the third out. Orioles lead 6-0.

The onslaught continues in the 5th inning. Boog Powell walks and advances to second on a passed ball. Powell moves to third after another error on Russell at short, which puts Brooks Robinson on first. Earl Williams walks to load the bases. Jim Northrup triples down the first base line, clearing the bases. Northrup would later score and the Orioles lead it 10-0. Los Angeles would score a run in the 6th, as would Baltimore. The O’s add another in the 8th and win this game in a blowout, 12-1. Baltimore leads the series 3-0.

Game 4

For Game 4, the Dodgers start Doug Rau (13-11, 3.72). Baltimore looks to Dave McNally (16-10, 3.58) to close the series out with a sweep. The game is scoreless for the first three innings. In the top of the 4th, Los Angeles’ batters find their stroke. Jim Wynn leads the inning off with a triple, then scores on Joe Ferguson’s ground out to third. Willie Crawford would single and come home on Ron Cey’s two run homer to left. Dodgers lead 3-0. In the top of the 5th inning, Steve Garvey homers to center to make it 4-0. Crawford adds a home run of his own, a three run shot in the 9th inning to extend the Dodger lead to 7-0. Baltimore would score in the bottom of the 9th to break up the shutout, but Los Angeles wins this one, 7-1, and avoids the sweep. Orioles lead the series 3-1

Game 5

Game 5 is a rematch of Game 1 starters. Andy Messersmith is on the mound for L.A. and Ross Grimsley takes the hill for Baltimore. Once again, it’s a tough game for both teams, as another pitcher’s duel takes place. For three innings, no one scores. But in the bottom of the 4th, the Orioles would get on the board. Bobby Grich doubles and advances to third on a ground out. Grich scores thanks to an error on center fielder Jim Wynn. Baltimore leads 1-0. The slim lead would hold, as Grimsley again works on a no-no versus the Dodgers. Don Baylor hits a home run to left for the Orioles with two outs in the 7th, padding the lead. Orioles lead 2-0. In the bottom of the 8th inning with one out, Boog Powell doubles. He would score on Earl Williams’ single to make it 3-0.

Grimsley enters the 9th inning with his no-hitter intact. He gets the first out of the inning, bringing up Tom Paciorek. Paciorek cranks a double into left center to break up the no-no bid, giving the Dodgers their first hit of the game. It would be their only hit of the game, as Davey Lopes lines out to Grich at second and Paciorek gets doubled off by shortstop Mark Belanger to end the game and the series.

The Baltimore Orioles are the 1974 World Series Champion, four games to one!!! Just like in the real 1974 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of 102 games, fall to the American League representative. Starting pitcher Ross Grimsley is named the World Series Most Valuable Player. Grimsley was 2-0 in the Series, with 16 innings pitched. He only allowed three hits, while striking out 14 and walking two. Grimsley’s ERA? 0.56!

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