Page 323 - Fewest strikeouts in an NLCS game, 0, Pittsburgh against Los Angeles, October 6, 1974. (This is a record for hitters, not pitchers)
Game 2 of the 1974 NLCS was a daytime affair (there would not be night game in the LCS until 1975) at Three Rivers Stadium. The NL West champion Dodgers had won Game 1, 3-0, on a 4-hitter by Don Sutton. It was the Dodgers first postseason victory since Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. The Pirates were playing in their fourth NLCS and their third under manager Danny Murtaugh.
Andy Messersmith, who had gone 20-6 with an ERA of 2.59 in the regular season, started for the Dodgers against Jim Rooker (15-11, 2.78) for the Pirates. Messermsith had pitched in 39 games in 1974 and had struck out at least two batters in each game. He had 221 strikeouts on the season, second in the NL behind Steve Carlton of the Phillies who had 240.
The Pirate hitters were in the middle of the pack the NL in strikeouts with 828. Willie Stargell fanned 106 times and Richie Zisk struck out 91 times. But the Pirates also had catcher Manny Sanguillen who struck out just 27 times (with 21 walks) in 151 games. Second baseman Rennie Stennett struck out only 51 times with 32 walks in 157 games. Al Oliver had 58 strike outs and just 33 walks.
On this day, Messersmith wasn't sharp. His pitches weren't near the plate and he walked three and hit a batter. Murtaugh had juggled his lineup a bit and sat down Zisk and started rookie Dave Parker in right field with Oliver in center and Stargell in left. Ed Kirkpatrick was starting at first base.
However, the Pirates couldn't get anyone across for the first six innings and the Dodgers led 2-0 going to the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single from Steve Garvey and a homer by Ron Cey. In the bottom of the seventh, Murtaugh had Paul Popovich pinch hit for Mario Mendoza, who had replaced Frank Taveras, the batter Messersmith hit. Popovich, who had batted .217 in 1974 as opposed to Mendoza's blistering .221, singled. Zisk batted for Rooker and singled and Popovich went to second. Stennett sacrificed the runners over and then the Pirates tied the game on a ground out from third baseman Richie Hebner and an infield single by Oliver.
The Dodgers went ahead in the top of the eighth when Cey lead off with a double and went to third on an infield single by Bill Russell. Pinch hitters Willie Crawford and Manny Mota each had RBI singles and second baseman Davey Lopes drove in a third run and the Dodgers led 5-2. Mike Marshall, who had appeared in a record 106 games, pitched the last two innings without a strikeout to close it out. Under the rules of the day, Marshall did not get a save.
The Pirates won Game 3 in Los Angeles by a 7-0 margin, but the Dodgers closed it out with a 12-2 rout in Game 4.
Messersmith would pitch twice in the World Series against Oakland, losing both times, but he did strike out 12 A's batters in 14 innings of work. But he also gave up home runs to Reggie Jackson (understandable) and Ken Holtzman (hey, Andy, he's a pitcher who hadn't batted all year!) and Oakland won the series in five games. Messersmith would never pitch in the postseason again.
Five teams in the ALCS have struck out just once in a game, the last one being Boston on October 10, 1990 against Oakland. It didn't help the Red Sox that day as they lost 3-1 to complete a four-game sweep against the Athletics.