Saturday, April 21, 2012

The excellence of Cliff Lee & Matt Cain

Cliff Lee and Matt Cain produced a rare gem of a showdown Wednesday night, resulting in a combined game score of 171. Doesn't quite rank with the highest of all time, but it's in the top ten in the last 15 years.
Fangraphs caught this too, writing: "Before 2010, MLB hadn’t seen a game where both starters went 9 IP with 0 R allowed since September of 2003, when the Tigers and Blue Jays locked up in a battle between Nate Cornejo and, once again, Roy Halladay. Halladay was awesome, throwing 10 scoreless innings on just 99 pitches and getting 21 ground ball outs in the process. Cornejo was somewhat less awesome, as he gave up five hits and walked a couple of batters while racking up two strikeouts. While any nine inning shutout is impressive in its own way, Cornejo’s doesn’t stack up to what either Cain or Lee did last night."

One other note about Cain's performance is that his Wednesday night outing follows his 9 inning 11 K, 0 BB, 1 hit shutout for a game score of 96 in his previous start. Combined, these surpass back-to-back efforts by Lincecum, Halladay, Lee and others dating back several years. I wasn't comprehensive but it took some searching to find a pitcher whose output could compare. In 1999, for example, Pedro pitched back-to-back games of 90 and 98, wherein he threw an 8 inning, 15 k, 3 BB, 2 H start (90) followed by a 9 inning 17 K, 1 H, 0 BB start (98).

In any event, Lee was stellar, and Matt Cain has pitched phenomenally and consistently well of late.


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