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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Steward: A pitching duel for the ages - Matt Cain against Cliff Lee

Weeeee! 1908 (.239 league BA) here we come!

I’m going to go back and look over some of the Marichal-Koufax matchups in the coming days, but I’m not aware that those two ever had a lefty-righty showdown like the one witnessed at AT&T Park Wednesday night. We’ve become accustomed to seeing really good pitching performances at China Basin over the past several years, but this might have been the most well pitched game by two starters I’ve ever seen at the 12-year-old yard, and one of the best I’ve ever witnessed anywhere … and I’ve seen a lotta ball.

One thing’s for certain, you just don’t see games like this much anymore. Matt Cain went a full nine and threw 91 pitches. Cliff Lee went 10 and threw 102 (just 89 for the first nine). Cain walked one and gave up two hits. Lee didn’t walk anybody and gave up seven hits. Cain got his last 14 outs in a row (the first two on a double play). Lee retired 12 straight from the fifth through the eighth. Of Cain’s 91 pitches, 64 were for strikes, and quite honestly, I barely remember any of the 27 balls. Of Lee’s 102 pitches, an astounding 81 were in the strike zone. My god. That isn’t just dealing, that’s painting a Rembrandt. (Right, A’s fan, you chip in here and tell us about the 38 consecutive strikes Bartolo Colon threw on this evening, which admittedly ranks with any of the Cain/Lee numbers).

For once, when Bruce Bochy said it doesn’t get any better than this, he was right. Unless you go back to the Marichal/Koufax days. Or Colon in Anaheim.

Repoz Posted: April 19, 2012 at 05:41 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. God Posted: April 19, 2012 at 06:16 AM (#4110328)
Have the Kershaw/Lincecum duels of last year already been forgotten?
   2. Bhaakon Posted: April 19, 2012 at 06:26 AM (#4110330)
Have the Kershaw/Lincecum duels of last year already been forgotten?


Only one of those games was 1-0, it ended in regulation, and neither pitcher went 9 (let alone 10) innings.

Also

People who see the sky falling with Lincecum because he’s not throwing 95 mph anymore just don’t get it.


I wouldn't say the sky is falling, but Lincecum most certainly is no Lee (or maybe even Cain) when it comes to command. 95 MPH made up for a lot of location mistakes that 91 won't. I don't think he's done or anything, but every foot he loses off the fastball is one more reason to think that he's never going to be as good as he was again, and one more reason that I don't want my team to sign him at a salary commensurate to his past performance.
   3. adenzeno Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:09 AM (#4110332)
Marichal vs Spahn...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN196307020.shtml


http://oldschool.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/10884/duel-of-the-decade-marichal-vs-spahn/
   4. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:42 AM (#4110336)
Curious that the talking heads on MLB Network last night characterized the game as a matchup of two offensively-weak teams.

A quick check shows the team OPS+ of the SF Giants is 101 while the offensive juggernaut known as the Phillies is at...68...oh dear!
   5. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 19, 2012 at 08:08 AM (#4110341)
I was skeptical of Bartolo Colon, but damn. If I've ever seen 38 strikes in a row, I don't remember it.
   6. ASmitty Posted: April 19, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4110352)
Ugh. I'll have to look it up, but I could have swore there was a game a few years back between Detroit and Toronto where the Detroit starter went 9, and Halladay went 10 and got the win. It wasn't dueling total dominance like this game, but it's really bugging me.
   7. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: April 19, 2012 at 08:46 AM (#4110356)
Smitty, here it is

Halladay was also in this game
   8. ASmitty Posted: April 19, 2012 at 08:57 AM (#4110359)
Smitty, here it is


Nate Cornejo?! Man, I never would have guessed that. It was also longer ago than I remembered it being, but that is, in fact, the game I was thinking of. Thanks.
   9. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: April 19, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4110505)
Neither guy won. They're no Jack Morris.
   10. Dave Spiwak Posted: April 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4110508)
Marichal vs Spahn...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN196307020.shtml


Game scores of 112 and 97 for Marichal and Spahn, respectively.

Is that the record for two opposing pitchers in a game?

P.S. Lee and Cain were 85 and 86, respectively.
   11. Dan Posted: April 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4110509)
I was disappointed they pulled Cain after 91 pitches. Sure, it was 9 innings, but he wasn't even at 100!

And Lee probably could've gone 11 too. He was at something like 102 after 10.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4110516)
If I've ever seen 38 strikes in a row, I don't remember it.


Honestly, that's one of the most remarkable pitching items I've ever heard. You've gotta have some serious faith in your stuff to not even bother dipping outside the zone.
   13. Tuque Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4110519)
Not only were about 80% of Lee's pitches strikes, but according to Pitch F/X, a number of those balls were actually strikes that the umpire missed. The batters know they can't wait on him, so they swing at the first good thing they see, which a lot of the time is a borderline cutter or a slider or something that they can't hit perfectly, so they ground out or pop out.

It's very democratic. Lee will throw them something to swing at - he'll just know that they probably won't hit it very well. It's fun to watch.
   14. Dave Spiwak Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4110520)
And Lee probably could've gone 11 too. He was at something like 102 after 10.

They took Lee out for a pinch hitter (Thome). I wonder if they would have left him in if his spot wasn't up in the batting order.
   15. ASmitty Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4110532)
Honestly, that's one of the most remarkable pitching items I've ever heard. You've gotta have some serious faith in your stuff to not even bother dipping outside the zone.


It is rather crazy. I wonder how much the hitters were bailing him out, as any swing and miss, foul, or BIP would obviously be counted as a strike.

If he just pounded the zone for 38 straight pitches, that would be amazing.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4110540)
It is rather crazy. I wonder how much the hitters were bailing him out, as any swing and miss, foul, or BIP would obviously be counted as a strike.


Yeah, it's probable that a few of those pitches were actually outside the zone. But even taking that into account, it's pretty damn amazing.
   17. Good cripple hitter Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4110543)
The AP report on Colon's start features this flabbergasting bit:

"STATS LLC said its pitch-by-pitch data goes back to 1988 — since then, the most consecutive strikes a pitcher has thrown is 30, by Tim Wakefield for Boston in 1998 against Cleveland."

If I had to guess which pitcher was capable of throwing 30 consecutive strikes in a game, Tim Wakefield would not be one of my first hundred guesses.
   18. Dave Spiwak Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4110551)
If I had to guess which pitcher was capable of throwing 30 consecutive strikes in a game, Tim Wakefield would not be one of my first hundred guesses.

I guess it makes sense if the hitters are swinging at absolutely everything, which can happen with the knuckleball.
   19. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4110558)
I'm surprised fangraphs didn't have a piece on Colon today. The response to his feat seems strangely muted.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: April 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4110566)
I guess it makes sense if the hitters are swinging at absolutely everything, which can happen with the knuckleball.


It looks like Wake yielded three hits, struck two out, one guy ROE and the rest popped/flied out during the stretch. He gave up one UER.
   21. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: April 19, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4110579)
I think the larger point here is that Tim Wakefield once had a streak of 30 without a wild pitch.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 19, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4110585)
Game scores of 112 and 97 for Marichal and Spahn, respectively.

Is that the record for two opposing pitchers in a game?


No. This game is better. I don't know how many Ks either pitcher had, but even if you assume that neither struck anybody out, you get game scores above 110 for both guys. Amazing what a 21-inning complete game will do for your score...

(The headline on the NYT landing page is a typo, BTW - the game ended at 3-1, not 8-1.)
   23. esseff Posted: April 19, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4110600)
Amazing what a 21-inning complete game will do for your score...


bb-ref calculates Game Scores for Cadore and Oeschger at 140 and 153, respectively, for their 26-inning game on May 1, 1920.

link
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: April 19, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4110606)
I think the larger point here is that Tim Wakefield once had a streak of 30 without a wild pitch.


We don't know that. One should never doubt Timmy's ability to get a WP/PB on a pitch the batter also swung at.

   25. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 19, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4110697)
Bartolo Colon has been a very entertaining (and valuable) addition to the A's, so far.
Never paid much attention to him before, but when he's going good, he's fun to watch.
I think he walks off the mound to the dugout more slowly than any pitcher I've ever seen. All about conserving energy at 39, I reckon.
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 19, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4110707)

Cliff Lee's transformation is pretty remarkable. He was a relatively highly thought of prospect, and a slightly above-average starter for a few years. At age 28 he was injured and absolutely terrible even when healthy.

Then at age 29 he won the Cy Young award and was suddenly one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball. Now he's making $25 million a year. Baseball is an amazing game.
   27. baudib Posted: April 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4110745)
I think Lee will be great until he's 40.
   28. just plain joe Posted: April 19, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4110756)
All too typical Matt Cain performance for the Giants; he pitches an awesome game and all he gets to show for it is the exercise and a no decision. At least San Francisco did manage to push across a run and win the game.
   29. Austin Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4110953)
So, before tonight, when was the last time a starter pitched more than nine innings? Has it happened even once in the past couple of years?
   30. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4110958)

#29 - Lee is the first since 2007.

In '07, both Halladay and Aaron Harang had 10 IP outings.
In '05, Mark Mulder had a 10 IP shutout and Bartolo Colon went 9.1 in a losing effort
In '03, Halladay had a 10 IP shutout.

That's it since 2000. There were 45 instances in the 90s of a pitcher going more than 9 innings, including Andy Hawkins (!) going 11.2 (!) in a loss and Dave Stewart pitching an 11 inning shutout, both in 1990. I assume the Hawkins game had something to do with it being the first game of a doubleheader and wanting to rest the bullpen.
   31. Sweatpants Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4110965)
Aaron Harang was the last guy to do it, all the way back in 2007. I think that's the longest gap between >9-inning games; the previous longest gap was between 1999 (Kevin Millwood) and 2003 (Halladay).

Edit: A jillion dollars to Inge.
   32. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:42 PM (#4110967)
All too typical Matt Cain performance for the Giants; he pitches an awesome game and all he gets to show for it is the exercise and a no decision. At least San Francisco did manage to push across a run and win the game


Consistency at its finest. I feel bad for him.
   33. Morty Causa Posted: April 19, 2012 at 07:55 PM (#4110972)
No. This game is better. I don't know how many Ks either pitcher had, but even if you assume that neither struck anybody out, you get game scores above 110 for both guys. Amazing what a 21-inning complete game will do for your score...


And how many times, I'd like to know, did Hans Wagner mess things up by getting gay with the ball?
   34. BWV 1129 Posted: April 19, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4110990)
Some of Bartolo's 38 were outside the zone, but with two strikes you get batters to fish a little bit. Nothing was crazy out of the zone with a swing, that I can remember (but I didn't rewind to watch them all after it became noticeable there was a streak).

The ball that broke the streak didn't miss by much, either.
   35. ASmitty Posted: April 19, 2012 at 09:21 PM (#4110996)
Smitty, here it is


Wait, wait, wait.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TOR/TOR200704130.shtml

THIS was the game I was referring to above.

Apparently, Halladay went ten innings against Detroit TWICE when the starter for Detroit went nine innings. And BOTH times, Fernando Rodney took the loss.

Crazy.
   36. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 19, 2012 at 11:59 PM (#4111063)
The ball that broke the streak didn't miss by much, either.

Suzuki didn't even move his glove. Very close pitch; tough call to get right.
   37. drdr Posted: April 20, 2012 at 03:07 AM (#4111081)
Another great pitching duel was on September 9th 1965. The game was over in 9 innings. Losing pitcher (Hendley) had a game score of 80 through full 8 innings (away team, no 9th). He allowed one walk and one hit. The run scored on walk, SH (there may have been the play at second, but ball wasn't fielded cleanly), SB and error (when catcher overthrew on SB). Winning pitcher, Koufax, had 101 game score with 14 strikeouts, pitching his 4th no-hitter and his only perfect game. He struck out last 6 Cubs and 7 of 9 third time through order.
The game had only one hit and one walk, the lowest number of hits and baserunners in MLB game. Interestingly, game featured three errors, although only one was official. Bobbled ball on SH that prevented play on 2nd, throw over 3B that scored run, and low throw by LA SS, that was dug up in time by 1B to preserve perfect game.

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