Dodger manager Walt Alston was torn between starting Drysdale on normal rest or Koufax with only two days’ rest. He decided on the left-handed Koufax, figuring if needed he would use the right-handed Drysdale in relief, then go back to his left-handed relief ace Ron Perranoski. Koufax told announcer Vin Scullyin a post-game interview that he and Drysdale had come to the ballpark not knowing which would be on the mound. According to Koufax, the manager announced the decision purely in strategic terms regarding lefty vs. righty, saying he worded his announcement without even using the pitchers’ names, saying only that he thought he’d “like to start the left-hander.” The Twins went with Kaat, also starting on two days’ rest. Both managers had relief pitchers warming up as their starters began the game.
Koufax had trouble throwing his curveball for strikes but escaped a couple of early jams, including one in the third inning when Zoilo Versailles stole second base with one out, but was called back after batter Joe Nossek was ruled out for interference. Koufax effectively gave up on his curveball and pitched the late innings almost exclusively with fastballs, still baffling the hard-hitting Twins. In the fourth inning, Dodger left fielder Lou Johnson told Koufax that he would get him the only run he would need. Johnson promptly hit one off the left-field foul pole to give the Dodgers a 1–0 lead. Ron Fairly followed with a double and scored on a Wes Parker single. The two runs came on three consecutive pitches.
Knowing Kaat was on short rest, manager Mele pulled him quickly. Al Worthington, Johnny Klippstein, Jim Merritt, and Jim Perry combined to shut out the Dodgers for the rest of the game. The Twins threatened again in the fifth inning when they had runners on first and second with only one out. Versailles hit a hard grounder down the third base line that appeared to be going for a double. This could have ended Koufax’s day as Drysdale was warming up in the bullpen. But third baseman Jim Gilliam (who was often replaced late in games for defensive reasons) made a diving, backhanded stop and stepped on third for a force. Koufax bore down and got the third out. He ended up tossing a three-hit shutout, striking out ten in one of the greatest Game 7 pitching performances ever
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