Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/19/12

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

Patrick Beverley fined $25K for altercation with fan

Bill Parcells on Tony Romo: ‘I was glad he retired’

Report: Garoppolo remains 'long shot' to be traded

Report: Packers coaches upset with GM Ted Thompson

Rondo fined $25K for attempting to trip Crowder

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Logan Morrison curses out umpire CB Bucknor mid at-bat

Raptors jab Bucks on Twitter after Game 4 victory

Report: NBA GMs not hesitant to draft Lonzo Ball due to father LaVar

DeShone Kizer changes course, stands by Tom Brady-Cam Newton quote

Nick Saban doesn't offer much praise of team for 'adequate' spring game

Dennis Schroder admits Mike Budenholzer wants him to avoid trash talk

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

25 times Mother Nature disrupted sports

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

Box Score 4/20: When Westbrook isn't enough

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

White House championship visits over the years

Biggest needs in the draft for every NFL team

The 'Baseball has been very, very good to its players' quiz

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

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: David Fizdale calls B.S.

Kris Bryant can become the next Derek Jeter — and more

The 'Baseball has been very, very good to its players' quiz

NHL youth movement: How the 2016-17 rookie class fared

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker