Wally Bunker entered Game 3 of the World Series with a tough act to follow. Just two days after 20-year-old Jim Palmer bested Cy Young winner Sandy Koufax, Bunker made his own mark in the Fall Classic.
Bunker went the distance in a shutout effort that brought the Orioles to within one game of their first World Series championship. Paul Blair provided the game’s only offense with a solo home run in the fifth inning, and Baltimore fans left happy after the first World Series game played at Memorial Stadium.
Bunker faced the minimum through the first three innings. A double play erased a leadoff single in the second, and the Dodgers did not threaten again until the fourth. Wes Parker walloped an 0-2 pitch that bounced over the wall in right-center field for a double. Ron Fairly worked a two-out walk, but Bunker struck out Jim Lefebvre to end the inning.
Bunker allowed a leadoff single to Lou Johnson in the fifth, but he dug in once again. The 21-year-old retired the next three batters to keep the game scoreless. Bunker’s ability to minimize damage proved to be the difference maker in this one. The Dodgers outhit Baltimore 6-3, but L.A. could not solve the Seattle native in clutch situations.
While Bunker kept the Dodgers at bay, the Orioles struggled to generate much of anything off starter Claude Osteen. The Dodger lefty had only allowed a pair of singles before Blair stepped up in the fifth. Osteen erased a Boog Powell single with a double play in the second and retired three straight after a Luis Aparicio leadoff single in the fourth.
Blair entered the box from the right side and dug in. After a pair of quick outs, Osteen may have felt he could sneak one by the Birds’ young center fielder. Blair, clearly ready to hit, blasted the first pitch over the left field fence for the first run of the game. The ball traveled 430 feet, and eventually lifted the Orioles to within one game of their first championship.
The Orioles did not record another hit after the solo shot by Blair. Osteen rebounded with two more scoreless innings, and reliever Phil Regan retired the Birds in order during the eighth.
Maury Wills led off the sixth inning with a single, but Bunker retired the next three Dodger batters. Bunker allowed one single in the seventh, and faced another test after a leadoff single by Tommy Davis in the eighth.
Wills advanced Davis to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Los Angeles had two opportunities to tie the game with a man in scoring position. Parker popped out to the hole at shortstop for the second out, and Bunker retired Willie Davis with a grounder to second that ended the inning.
Bunker struck out Ron Fairly with a high fastball for the first out in the ninth before Lefebvre and Johnson grounded out to end the game.
Bunker dazzled with a record of 19-5 during his rookie season in 1964, but he managed just a 10-6 record with an underwhelming 4.29 ERA this year. Today’s game marked Bunker’s first shutout of the season. How’s that for timing?
The Orioles have held the Dodgers scoreless for 24 straight innings dating back to Game 1. Baltimore can now clinch the World Series without returning to the West Coast. The Birds’ offense failed to replicate its success from the first two games, but the club does not need much when it gets starts like this from Palmer and Bunker.
Dave McNally is set to take the ball tomorrow with the World Series resting on his left arm. The Dodgers will counter with future Hall-of-Famer Don Drysdale in a last ditch effort to stave off elimination.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for October 8, 1966 (World Series Game 3)?
This poll is closed
Wally Bunker (9 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 6 K)
Paul Blair (1-3, scored only run with HR)