Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/19/12
Texas-rangers-cliff-lee

Last night, Cliff Lee and Matt Cain put on a pitching duel for the ages. Cain threw shutout nine innings on just 91 pitches before Bruce Bochy pinch-hit for him, while Lee managed to go 10 scoreless innings and still only throw 102 pitches on the night. They combined to allow just 10 baserunners in 19 innings pitched, and after Brett Pill‘s leadoff double in the fifth, they put down 24 consecutive batters between them.

You just don’t get two dominating performances in the same game all that often. In fact, you could make a case that this was the best pair of performances in a single game in the last 10 years.

The last time two pitchers faced off and both threw nine inning shutouts was last May, when Jason Vargas and Zach Britton squared off in Baltimore. Both were extremely effective and efficient, but neither of them pitched into the 10th inning, and they only combined for nine strikeouts on the night – plus, even with the offensive struggles SF and PHI have had this year, neither of them can match the 2011 Mariners for futility at the plate, so Britton’s performance is slightly diminished due to the quality of his opponent.

The Phillies were actually involved in another classic pitching duel two years ago, as Roy Halladay and Travis Wood matched zeroes for nine innings before giving way to the bullpens. In fact, Wood was one base hit and a little run support away from a perfect game, so Halladay’s 9 IP/0 R/1 BB/9 K performance was actually the second best outing of the evening. If either Wood or Halladay had pitched into the 10th, this would likely rate ahead of last night’s duel, but given that Lee got three more outs and threw 15 fewer pitches, I have to give the nod – just barely – to the Cain/Lee duel.

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.

To find a pair of performances on par with last night’s match-up, we probably have to go back to August 28, 1999, when Kevin Millwood matched up with Darren Oliver. Oliver was excellent, throwing nine scoreless innings, allowing just six baserunners and striking out six batters in the prcoess, but Millwood was even better – 10 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 9 K. More impressively, he did this against a line-up that featured Mark McGwire, Ray Lankford, the good version of Fernando Tatis, J.D. Drew, and Edgar Renteria.

What Cain and Lee did last night was special. You don’t see that kind of pitcher’s duel very often, and there showdown was one of the best in recent history. Hats off to both of them.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

UCF had no idea UConn was creating a rivalry trophy

Cam Newton signs five-year, $103M extension with Panthers

Devils introduce new head coach John Hynes

Report: Heat could make a run at Kevin Durant

Goodell denies request to recuse himself from Brady appeal

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dan Marino: Brady one of best QBs ever despite Deflategate

Sepp Blatter stepping down as FIFA president

Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints agree to five-year deal

Steve Williams: 'There's no chance' Tiger Woods did PEDs

Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers want jury probe in Lloyd case

Adrian Peterson ends holdout, returns to Vikings

Texas Rangers promote top prospect Joey Gallo

How the Chicago Blackhawks are thriving in salary cap era

Report: Klay Thompson cleared for Game 1 of NBA Finals

Pettine views latest Manziel incident as a ‘non-story’

Nationals need Taylor to produce in Werth’s absence

UAB football's return great, but bad publicity will last forever

What Adrian Peterson's return means for the Vikings

2015 Stanley Cup Final preview: Blackhawks vs. Lightning

Umenyiora, wife Leila Lopes respond to cheating allegations

Would Cavs winning title impact Love's impending free agency?

If you love speed, you'll love the 2015 Stanley Cup Final

The Chicago Bulls and the culture of fitting in

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Projecting rosters for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game

What Peterson's return means

The Bulls and the culture of fitting in

X-factors for Cavs and Warriors

Pujols: Angels not 'Mike Trout show'

Adrian Peterson returns to Vikings

Chicago Bulls agree to deal with Fred Hoiberg

NBA should have 'legacy contracts' for long-time players

Atlanta Hawks unveil new logo

UAB fans celebrate football reinstatement

Sanchez backs off dismissal of Tebow

Gronk responds to critics of his antics

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.