Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Innings or More In a Game

Maybe I'm late to this whole 10 innings milestone reached by Cliff Lee. In case you're late to the party as I am, on April 18th, Cliff Lee and Matt Cain locked up in a duel that hearkened back to the old days. Both pitchers combined for 19 shutout innings with Lee pitching 10. The 10 shutout inning plateau had not been reached since Mark Mulder did it in 2005.

To be perfectly honest, I thought the last pitcher to throw 10 shutout innings was Jack Morris in his masterful performance against the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I was actually surprised that since that Game 7, seven pitchers (not including Lee) had thrown a 10 shutout inning game. Here is the list:

Kevin Appier 07/23/1992
Bobby Jones 09/29/1993
Bret Saberhagen 07/15/1994
Darryl Kile 09/20/1998
Kevin Millwood 08/28/1999
Roy Halladay 09/06/2003
Mark Mulder 04/23/2005

Roy Halladay actually has two 10 inning games though he gave up a run in the second game. So given that, I decided to dig a little deeper. I wanted to find out how many pitchers had thrown (at least) a 10 inning game. I came across an MLB blog called The Stats of Zoc. Now in May 23, 2011, an article entitled A Pitcher Going Ten Or More Innings in a Game, A Thing Of The Past was posted to the blogpage. In his post, Tom Zocco gives a list of the leading pitchers who from the years of 1950-2011 who threw at least 10 innings in a game. Granted, the list is not a complete list and some of the names of the list might not shock you but the amount of times they accomplished the feat might. Here is the list with the amount of 10 inning or more games next to their names:

Gaylord Perry 37
Robin Roberts 21
Warren Spahn 20
Jim Palmer 20
Billy Pierce 17
Tom Seaver 17
Bob Gibson 17
Phil Niekro 16
Jim Bunning 16
Nolan Ryan 15
Don Drysdale 15
Bert Blyleven 15
Ned Garver 14
Ferguson Jenkins 14
Curt Simmons 14
Steve Carlton 13
Rick Wise 13
Luis Tiant 13
Jim Kaat 13

What catches my eye almost immediately is that this list is peppered with power pitches and staff aces. This leads to the idea that starting pitching was absolutely something to be reckoned with before the era of pitch counts and specialized relievers. Sure some of you might counter with "Well, they were overworked". That might be true but consider this. Of the 19 pitchers Zucco highlights, 13 of them are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The innings they logged leading to many of the names on this list winning 300 or more games (six in total with Warren Spahn having an astounding 363 wins). Of the remaining seven Hall of Famers on the list of pitchers five have between 250 and 300 wins. So the idea that there were overworked might be valid, but the body of work they logged helped them get into the Hall of Fame. For some interesting tidbits and factoids concerning the 10-inning games pitched by those on the list, read A Pitcher Going Ten Or More Innings in a Game, A Thing Of The Past

The game that I feel is the most impressive was the 16-inning duel between Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal. The game was being pitched into the 16th with a game winning homerun by Willie Mays being the only run in the game. I went into more detail about this game in my Latinoball blogpost September 9, 2009 entitled The Greatest Pitching Duel...Ever (In my opinion).

With the pendulum swinging back to the era of longer games by starters, maybe we'll see more games where starters go more than nine innings. Only time will tell.


For Further Reading
- Click Here to access the article A Pitcher Going Ten Or More Innings in a Game, A Thing Of The Past by Tom Zucco dated 05-23-2011
- Click Here to access the article by Roger Schlueter entitled MLB Notebook: Lee, Cain have duel for ages dated 04/19/2012 from
- Click Here to access the article by Tyler Kepner entitled From Morris to Lee: Ten Zeros in a Row dated 04/21/2012 from

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