At minimum, Philly's Cliff Lee and San Francisco's Matt Cain will pull down nearly $250 million combined between now and 2018. Last night, they showed why. Lee became the first pitcher since Aaron Harang (2007) to last 10 innings, holding the Giants scoreless while whiffing seven, walking none and giving up seven hits. Cain punched out four and walked one in nine innings, allowing just two hits.
While neither pitcher got the W he so richly deserved, Lee and Cain both produced one of the top five pitching performances of the year so far as judged by Game Score:
Highest Game Scores for starting pitchers, 2012
|1||Matt Cain||4/13/2012||SFG||PIT||W 5-0||SHO9 ,W||96|
|2||Edwin Jackson||4/14/2012||WSN||CIN||W 4-1||CG 9 ,W||87|
|3||Chad Billingsley||4/6/2012||LAD||SDP||W 6-0||GS-9 ,W||87|
|4||Matt Cain||4/18/2012||SFG||PHI||W 1-0||GS-9||86|
|5||Cliff Lee||4/18/2012||PHI||SFG||L 0-1||GS-10||85|
|6||Matt Garza||4/12/2012||CHC||MIL||W 8-0||GS-9 ,W||85|
|7||Jered Weaver||4/6/2012||LAA||KCR||W 5-0||GS-8 ,W||84|
|8||Justin Verlander||4/5/2012||DET||BOS||W 3-2||GS-8||84|
|9||Barry Zito||4/9/2012||SFG||COL||W 7-0||SHO9 ,W||83|
|10||Roy Halladay||4/5/2012||PHI||PIT||W 1-0||GS-8 ,W||83|
Lee (79 percent) and Cain (70) each surpassed the 70 percent strike mark, but they did it with contrasting styles. Lee peppered the strike zone while getting lots of ground balls. Cain, meanwhile, relied on jumpy Phillies hitting weak fly balls.
No starter has placed more pitches in the strike zone than Lee during the Pitch F/X era, and last night was no exception. Lee tossed 59 of his 102 pitches (58 percent) over the plate against San Francisco, never reaching a three-ball count while staying low and away against a lineup featuring seven hitters swinging from the right side:
Lee's "pound the knees" approach produced 18 grounders, compared to five fly balls. While Lee stayed low and in the zone, Cain often threw out off the plate to a Philly lineup with six lefty swingers:
Only 36 of Cain's 91 pitches (40 percent) were in the zone. But Philly hitters chased 43 percent of his out-of-zone stuff. Unlike Lee, Cain took to the air with a 7-to-16 ground ball-to-fly-ball ratio.
Two aces, 19 combined scoreless frames and not a single pitch topping 92 mph on the radar gun. Lee and Cain showed different ways to dominate without elite velocity. We might not see a better duel all season long.