Thursday, April 19, 2012
Clearing the bases: Dial it to 11!
By Christina Kahrl
First: Cliff Lee was incredible against the Giants, throwing 10 shutout innings to become just the third pitcher this millennium to do that in a ballgame, and the first since Mark Mulder did it against the Astros on April 23, 2005. And before you ask, the last time anyone dialed it up to 11 a la Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap? The incomparable Dave Stewart back on August 1, 1990. (This little bit of baseball tidbit joy has been brought to you by Baseball-Reference.com, as if you didn’t already know.)
Second: OK, that’s pretty amazing. But what’s even more amazing? He didn’t even have the highest game score in that ballgame. Matt Cain did, outpointing Lee 86-85 by allowing just three baserunners in his nine shutout innings to Lee’s seven hits and seven K's. Admittedly, Game Score might be sort of sabermetrics’ answer to figure skating-style judging, but to put these nights into perspective, neither game would rate among the top 300 starts by game score from 2000-2012. So, really good, but not as good as Cain’s smackdown of the Pirates on Friday the 13th -- his last time out -- when he had a Game Score of 96. That’s awesome, but that’s Cain in a nutshell. Even when the other guy’s getting the immediate attention, whoever that guy may be, Cain might just be the better pitcher.
Third: In contrast, Bartolo Colon’s Game Score while shutting down the Angels was 79, which is good, but he had two starts that were actually better in May for the Yankees. Of course, those were against the Athletics and Orioles, neither of whom had Albert Pujols in their lineup. Which might make me the Russian judge of Game Scores, because beating the Angels now seems a lot more impressive than beating the A’s or O’s then, especially when he had Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes patrolling the outfield corners.
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Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter.