I prefer pitching to batting. The preference is slight, but in the same way that I can’t help but cheer a little bit for the underdog, even if my favourite team is the favoured one, my allegiance will always side with the player on the mound.
Not that a pitcher is an underdog in any way. Quite the opposite. In fact, baseball, being the cruel sport that it is, defines a successful batter as someone who beats the pitcher 35% of the time. However, there’s something approaching great literature in the way a pitcher is bound to offer up opportunities for his opposition to bring about his own demise. Without him hurling from a mound, the game is nothing. He must literally sacrifice himself for the cause of the game.
I will always take a 1-0 duel over a 6-5 battle. Swinging strike outs thrill me more than home runs. And I’m now of the opinion that Major League Baseball should cancel the rest of the season, and just send Cliff Lee and Matt Cain to face each other every four days in a barnstorming tour across North America.
It’s difficult to avoid a good pitching match up when the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants meet for a series. Sadly, due to uneven scheduling, the teams in opposite divisions only visit each other twice a year. Looking at the probable pitchers for this most recent three game set, it was the final game that seemed the most appealing.
Matt Cain, after signing a big contract extension, has started the 2012 season right where he left off in 2011: as one of the best pitchers in the league. His opponent on Wednesday night was Cliff Lee, a pitcher whose control is so absolute, last year’s 4.6% walk rate (the league average was almost double) was his highest in five years.
I highly doubt that written words alone could possibly express how entertaining the game was. It’s the most enthralled I’ve ever been for a game of baseball played in April.
As it was happening, I likened it to a game of HORSE between the two pitchers, and at the end of nine innings both were still standing without a letter or a run allowed. The fact that Cliff Lee pitched a tenth inning, only the fourth pitcher this millennium to do so, and Matt Cain didn’t had far more to do with where the respective teams were in their batting orders than fatigue or concerns over effectiveness for the Giants starter.
However, here’s how the final lines for both pitchers looked:
Matt Cain: 9 IP, 29 TBF, 2 hits, 1 BB, 0 runs, 4 K, 63/90 pitches for strikes.
Cliff Lee: 10 IP, 34 TBF, 7 hits, 0 BB, 0 runs, 7 K, 81/102 pitches for strikes.
63 batters faced the two pitchers and only a single walk was surrendered. Of the 63 batters who came to the plate, the two pitchers got 57 of them out. Almost laughably, the winning pitcher for last night’s duel only got a single out.
It seems like almost an after thought now, but finally, in the eleventh inning, Melky Cabrera knocked in the winning run with a single to right that scored Brandon Belt. It was such an excellent pitching performance prior to the game ending play that by the time both pitchers had left the game, viewers felt that blank mental numbness that’s normally associated with leaving a really, really good concert.
I think I might have had some ringing in my ears too.
And The Rest
Here’s Bill Baer’s take on last night’s game from the perspective of a Philadelphia Phillies fan. [Crashburn Alley]
And here’s a take on last night’s game from the perspective of a San Francisco Giants fan. [Giants Nirvana]
This GIF is San Francisco. Hipsters in front of Americanized Mexican food in front of a display of homosexuality, all hanging out together to have a good time. [Twitter]
Last night, Oakland A’s starter Bartolo Colon threw, what we think is a record, 38 straight strikes in his team’s shutout win over the Los Angeles Angels. [Athletics Nation]
Brandon McCarthy, also a starter of the Oakland A’s, is sick of your homophobia. [Twitter]
They put two guys on the ‘Kiss Cam’ tonight. What hilarity!! (by hilarity I mean offensive homophobia). Enough with this stupid trend.
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) April 19, 2012
Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, deep into his recovery from concussion symptoms, hit two home runs against the New York Yankees last night. [Twinkie Town]
Oh, Lenny Dykstra. [Los Angeles Times]
Former Boston Red Sox third baseman, and current Texas Rangers hot corner occupier, Adrian Beltre, was shocked that anything in his former team’s clubhouse would get leaked to the media, especially information concerning the consuming of alcohol and a certain dish known for its tastiness. [WEEI.com]
Terry Francona has changed his mind about attending Fenway Park’s anniversary celebration. [Boston Herald]
What Derek Holland did to David Ortiz last night is a type of cruel and unusual punishment rarely seen without violence being attached. [Baseball Time In Arlington]
The New York Yankees have placed Brett Gardner on the 15 day Disabled List. [River Avenue Blues]
Ivan Rodriguez has decided to hang up his spikes, and retire as a member of the Texas Rangers. [MLBlogs]
Finally, kicking a guy while he’s down, it’s Jason Bay’s broken career face in GIF mode. [NotGraphs]