In his Hall-of-Fame career, Walter Johnson pitched in 64 games that ended 1-0. He won 38 of them. Johnson came in as a reliever in two of the 1-0 games (he lost both) and he didn’t complete three others. In no fewer than 10 of his 26 losses, the lone run he yielded was unearned under today’s scoring rules.
No one in MLB history has pitched in as many 1-0 games. Johnson’s lone nine-inning no-hitter – July 1, 1920, against the Red Sox — would have been a perfect game, except for a seventh-inning error by second baseman Bucky Harris on a routine grounder. And of course, the score was 1-0. This came in Johnson’s worst mid-career season. He was 8-10 and threw just 143 innings because of various ailments and injuries. (Johnson also threw a seven-inning no-hitter on Aug. 25, 1924, against the St. Louis Browns. The game was called because of rain after the bottom of the 7th. Washington won, 2-0.)
His 110 shutouts also are the most ever, 20 more than his nearest competitor (Grover Cleveland Alexander). The Senators were shut out in 65 games that Johnson lost, another record. Eleven of his 26 losses in 1-0 games were on the road, so he pitched just eight innings (the home team had the lead and didn’t bat in the bottom of the ninth.)
Nine times, Johnson won 1-0 games that went into extra innings. His
longest was his 18-inning win over the White Sox on May 15, 1918. He gave up 10 hits, struck out nine and walked one batter. Three of his other 1-0 wins went 15 innings. He won in 13 innings, 12 innings and three times in 11 innings.
On May 11, 1919, Johnson pitched one of his best games, a 12-inning, two-hit shutout of the Yankees. Although this counts as one of his 110 shutouts, he did not win it. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. Between a first inning single and a two-out walk in the 10th, Johnson retired 28 batters in a row.
The Big Train lost twice in 1916 to Babe Ruth in 1-0 games, one of them a 13-inning battle. That game was one of five Johnson started and lost in extra innings. Ruth also beat Johnson 1-0 in 1917. Hall-of-Famer Ed Walsh beat Johnson 1-0 in 1908, 1909 and 1910.
The game Johnson himself considered his masterpiece, according to his grandson and biographer Henry W. Thomas, came on opening day at Griffith Stadium on April 13, 1926. The Big Train shut out the powerful A’s for 15 innings and, of course, won, 1-0.
SABR member Al Kermisch created this list of Johnson’s 1-0 games for the first Baseball Research Journal in 1972:
1-0 games won (38)
|Oct.||7||1908||New York||Jack Warhop||11||5||8||0|
|Apr.||15||1912||New York||Jack Quinn||9||4||6||4|
|Sept.||5||1913||New York||Russ Ford||9||3||8||1|
|Sept.||18||1914||St L.||Harry Hoch||9||5||7||1|
|Sept.||8||1915||New York||Bob Shawkey||9||6||10||2|
|Aug.||6||1917||St L.||Eddie Plank||11||5||3||1|
|May||11||1918||Cleve.||Jim Bagby, Sr.||9||5||5||4|
|July||25||1918||St L.||Allen Sothoron||15||4||3||2|
|July||3||1919||New York||Ernie Shore||9||7||4||2|
|Sept.||14||1921||St L.||Frank Davis||9||3||5||0|
|June||28||1922||New York||Waite Hoyt||9||7||9||0|
|Aug.||24||1922||Chicago||Ted Blanken- ship||9||5||5||0|
1-0 games lost (26)
|Aug.||14||1907||St L.||Barney Pelty||8||6||5||4|
|June||2||1918||Clev.||Jim Bagby, Sr.||11||8||2||2|
* Left game because of arm trouble; replaced by Charlie Smith.
** Lost in relief in both games (11 and 13 innings); Harry Harper started both games.
*** Left for pinch hitter in 8th; Ray Francis pitched ninth inning in relief.