For almost five innings Koufax was beyond perfection. In order, he struck out Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Elston Howard fouled out to the catcher, then Joe Pepitone struck out, too. After Koufax got Cletis Boyer on a ground out and Ford on a foul fly to third, he struck out Kubek, Richardson, Tresh and Mantle in order once more.
Trouble came to Koufax with two out in the fifth. He loaded the bases on three singles, then struck out Hector Lopez. In the sixth he walked two hitters, but got Mantle and Maris to pop out to the infield. The Yankees finally scored in the eighth when Tom Tresh hit a two-run homer. But that was all for New York. With his last pitch of the game, Koufax struck out Harry Bright to break Carl Erskine's one-game Series strikeout record of 14. Koufax had struck out every Yankee regular except Clete Boyer at least once, and he struck out all three Yankee pinch hitters. Bobby Richardson fanned three limes, and Richardson only struck out 22 times in 630 times at bat during the season.
Only twice in the first game did the Dodgers exhibit their speed. In the third inning Willie Davis, on first, wheeled around to third on a line-drive single to right and, with an excellent slide, beat a near-perfect throw from Roger Maris. This brought Skowron to bat, and Skowron singled through the middle to score Davis with the last Dodger run, making the final score 5-2. In the seventh inning Tommy Davis stole second, easily beating Howard's high, hurried throw. Tommy did not score but, for the Yankees, it should have been an indication of what was to come.
The first batter to face Al Downing in the first inning of the second game was Maury Wills. Wills singled through the box and then, standing on first base, he studied the young Yankee left-hander's motion as Downing threw a strike past Jim Gilliam. On the second pitch Wills took off for second base, a small blurred object in blue and gray. "Once I saw his foot lift up off the ground, I went," said Wills.
Downing is a young pitcher, but hardly a naive one and, like the other 66,000 in Yankee Stadium on Thursday, he knew exactly what to expect. His foot moved not toward the plate but toward first, and he whipped the ball to Joe Pepitone. Oops, Wills was trapped. Just a matter of seconds, and the superb Yankee infield would turn poor Maury into the first out of the game. But Maury was gone, really gone, not to be caught hanging there limply in the middle of Al Downing's clever trap. Wills never once paused in his flight, and the Yankees, without the problem of a rundown, moved into position for the simple tag at second base. Pepitone's throw, however, was on the infield side, and the Yankee second baseman, Bobby Richardson, had to lunge across the base to take it (opposite page). Wills, still 15 feet away from the base, dived onto his stomach in a headfirst slide, angling away from the base, away from Richardson at a 45� angle. The quickness of Wills, his challenge, his slide, Pepitone's throw, all seemed to arrive at the same moment in time. Richardson's momentum carried him too far. Tony Kubek, coming in from shortstop on a direct line to back up the play, might have taken the throw and made the put-out, but Richardson had the ball and could not reverse himself in time. As he waved frantically at the runner, crumbling into a version of a Cossack dance at second, Wills's arms hugged the base. This is the way the second game began and, for all intents and purposes, the second game was over. Maury Wills, a minister's son, had once again successfully broken the Eighth Commandment.
The Yankees were rattled, Downing was straining and the Dodgers were on the attack. Downing threw three straight balls to Gilliam, then put one over the plate. Gilliam singled sharply to the right of Pepitone, and Wills held up at third, only bluffing at going home. Roger Maris fired the ball in from right field, but his throw arrived at the plate on the fly. There could be no cutoff, and Gilliam scooted into second base.
With Wills racing up and down the third-base line, Downing was reluctant to use his curve. Willie Davis stood at the plate and in came a fast ball. Out it went, on a hard line to Maris. Wills, it seemed certain, would score after the catch. But Maris had trouble picking up the flight of the ball. He started in, skidded, tried to turn and go back, then slipped and fell. The ball bounced to the wall in right, and two runs came home. Two quick runs. The hare was ahead of the tortoise—and Johnny Podres made certain that it stayed that way.
Podres, another left-hander, was the man who beat the Yankees twice in 1955, including a 2-0 shutout in the seventh game to give the Dodgers their first world championship. Johnny had quite a bit more trouble last week, but it was not until the ninth inning that the Yankees could score. Frank Howard made a sensational catch on a long but rather routine drive by Mantle to end the first inning; Podres struck out two men in a row to end the second, leaving two runners on base. This started Podres on a run of 13 consecutive outs. Even after Tom Tresh singled in the sixth, Willie Davis ran down Mantle's long drive to center. And when Skowron hit a home run in the fourth, a sliced drive down the right-field line, like so many he had hit in years gone by, the Dodger lead was up to three runs.
In the meantime, the Yankees lost, at first indefinitely, then quite definitely for the rest of the Series, their No. 2 slugger. Maris. With two out in the third inning, Tommy Davis hit one of Downing's pitches into the right-field corner. Trying to field the ball, Maris ran into the wall. Davis wound up on third base with a triple, and Maris was led off the field with a badly bruised arm, never to appear again. His substitute, Hector Lopez, hit two doubles and scored the only Yankee run, but the Yankees could hardly afford to lose even one good man.