|(photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
Sunday, July 14, 2013
On No-Hitters and Great Pitched Games
Call it sour grapes on my part. There will be those that think I write this because Tim Lincecum is a Giant, and because like any respectable life-long Dodger fan, I despise the Giants. They can think what they want. Truth is though, no-hitters can be over-rated. No-hitters can be over-hyped.
So let me preface this by saying something utterly blasphemous to Dodger fans. Sandy Koufax no-hit the lowly '62 Mets (a team that lost a record 120 games) and three years later he tossed a perfect game against the 65 Cubs (70-92, 8th place finish). Those opponents were out and out terrible. He did it in an era when ballparks were pitcher friendly and mounds didn’t have the restrictive height limits that were enforced as they are today. As awesome as Sandy was on those nights, his opponents were extremely weak and that played a role in his accomplishments.
Then there was Juan Marichal who in 1963 pitched a 16 inning shutout over the Braves and threw 227 pitches in that game alone. Opposing pitcher Warren Spahn went 15 1/3 innings throwing a shutout until Willie Mays hit a homer in the bottom of the 16th to win the game. Spahn threw 201 pitches at age 42 on that July day. The Marichal feat, (and Spahn too), was arguably much more impressive than those Koufax no-hitters against teams in the second division.
With that said, let’s look at yesterdays performances by Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum.
Greinke, 9 IP, 2 Hits allowed, 1 Walk allowed, 9 strikeouts, 110 pitches thrown. Winning pitcher in a tight 1-0 game.
Greinke was at risk of losing the lead up until his final pitch of the game. He faced a Rockies team that is grasping to remain in the race, a mere two games behind the Dodgers at the beginning of the days action. He also faced an opposing pitcher, Tyler Chatwood that matched him pitch for pitch with a national TV audience watching the action. Saber metric geeks can respect that Greinke tabulated a Game Score of "91." Which was his all-time best. Essentially the greatest game he has ever pitched.
Lincecum, 9 IP, 0 Hits allowed, 4 Walks allowed, 13 strikeouts, 148 pitches. Winning pitcher in a 9-0 blowout.
Lincecum went against the floundering Padres team that is sinking deep having lost 14 of 15 games. Only the Brewers and Marlins have better records, and it isn’t by much. By inning #5, this game was over as the Giants pulled forward to a 9-0 lead.
So who actually pitched the better game? The guy facing a last place club in a lopsided 9-0 win at spacious Petco Park at night or the guy that risked losing the game with every pitch thrown in a tight one-run affair?