So sometimes you’re at a ballgame and it’s a really good pitchers’ duel, so you start to wonder “Is this the best pitchers’ duel I have seen this year?” or “Is this the best pitchers’ duel the Rockies have had this year?” or “Is this the best pitchers’ duel in the majors this year?” or, if you are Ken Burns or have a Napoleonic complex, “is this the Greatest Pitchers’ Duel in Major League History?” There is, of course, no way to know, and that’s where I come in.
Anything can be measured if you don’t have to start out with exactly the right answer. You can get an objective answer to any question if you can accept the fact that somebody else may have a different objective answer that’s just as good as yours. Those of you who wish to point out that I don’t quite understand the definition of “objective” are now instructed to leave the room.
What are the elements of a great pitchers’ duel? A pitchers’ duel is a low-scoring game, obviously; a 1-0 game is the champion of its list. The term “pitchers’ duel” implies that the starting pitchers pitch well, as opposed to staggering through five innings un-scored upon and handing it off to the bullpen. We think of a pitchers’ duel more highly if it involves pitchers of stature. A 1-0 game is more memorable if it is Sabathia against Verlander than if it is Marco Estrada against Kevin Correia. Which, by the way, actually happened last year; Marco Estrada and Kevin Correia matched up on August 13 at Miller Park, and the result was a 1-0 game. Go figure. There’s a woman involved somewhere.
Anyway, a great pitchers’ duel implies that there is something at stake beyond fifth place, although you don’t want to place too much emphasis on that criterion, or you wind up warbling on about Jack Morris in 1991, long after anybody cares.
Four criteria — low-scoring game, quality pitchers on the mound, pitchers pitch well, and something is at stake. It is a pretty easy measure of any of those. Low-scoring game … that can’t be any easier to measure. Quality starting pitchers on the mound; that’s not hard. Game of significance; we can get there with a little work. The only hard part is matching the scales, saying how much weight can be given to the quality of the starting pitchers, how much to the performance of the starting pitchers, how much to the score of the game, etc. That requires a pinch of subjective judgment.
OK, here’s my list of the 100 Top Pitchers’ Duels of 2011:
1. July 5, 2011, Detroit at Anaheim, Justin Verlander against Dan Haren
In the first inning Bobby Abreu was called out on strikes, argued with the call, and was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Angel Campos. With one out in the second, Howie Kendrick grounded to short and beat the throw to first — or not, but anyway, he was called safe by first base umpire Joe West. Well, OK, he was out; West blew the call. You beat it out of me. Tiger manager Jim Leyland came out to dispute the call, but, of course, to no avail. Erick Aybar then doubled to right field, scoring Kendrick and giving the Angels what was to be the game’s only run. Cowboy Joe later threw Leyland out of the game for continuing to squawk about the call on Kendrick, and, when Verlander was relieved with one out in the bottom of the eighth, he screamed at West and Verlander also was ejected, although he was already out of the game. Haren pitched a two-hit shutout, striking out nine and walking no one. Verlander struck out eight. Angels 1, Detroit 0.
2. July 10, 2011, Tampa Bay at New York, CC Sabathia against James Shields
Sabathia came into the game 12-4 with an ERA of 2.90; Shields came in 8-6 but with an ERA of 2.47, and it was the day after Jeter went 5-for-5 and got his 3,000th hit. Rays shortstop Elliot Johnson doubled in the first but didn’t advance. Sean Rodriguez doubled leading off the third, but tried to steal third and was thrown out — a critical play in the game. The Yankees got runners on second and third, one out in the third on a single, a bunt single, and a bunt, but Teixeira flied to center and Upton threw out Nunez at home plate to keep the game scoreless. Upton singled in the fourth, but Sabathia picked him off first. No one else reached (for either team) until the seventh inning. Upton singled, but Rodriguez flied to right and Upton didn’t get back to first base in time — the third scoring chance the Rays had wasted with overaggressive base running. Cano singled leading off the bottom of the seventh. Posada flied to center, but Upton threw wildly returning the ball to the infield — his third critical mistake of the game — allowing Cano to go to third, from where he scored the game’s only run on a ground ball. Sabathia pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out nine. Shields also pitched a four-hitter, but lost on the unearned run, making it a snakebite game. (A snakebite game is a game in which the starting pitcher pitches well and does not allow an earned run, but is charged with the loss anyway.) Yankees 1, Rays 0.
3. July 20, 2011, Dodgers at San Francisco, Clayton Kershaw against Tim Lincecum
Tony Gwynn Jr. reached third base in the first inning on a single, an error, and a stolen base, but did not score. The Giants got runners in scoring position on stolen bases in the first and the second. The Dodgers got two on with two out in the third; still scoreless. Juan Rivera doubled for the Dodgers in the fourth; didn’t score. Andre Ethier doubled in the sixth, didn’t score. Dioner Navarro homered leading off the seventh for the game’s only run; Los Angeles 1, San Francisco, 0.
4. July 21, 2011, Texas at Anaheim, C. J. Wilson against Jered Weaver
Weaver came in 12-4 with an ERA of 1.90; Wilson was 9-4, 3.11. Angels manufactured a run in the second on a hit batsman, a wild pitch, and an error by Texas center fielder Endy Chavez, and won the game 1-0. Wilson pitched a complete game two-hitter, took the loss (snakebite game). Weaver pitched seven shutout innings for the win. Angels 1, Texas 0.
5. September 9, 2011, Dodgers in San Francisco again, Kershaw and Lincecum rematch
Giants scored in the first on an error by Dodger shortstop Dee Gordon, a stolen base, and a single, held a 1-0 lead through seven innings. In the eighth inning Matt Kemp hit a two-out single, stole second, and scored on a single by Juan Rivera, tying the game. In the ninth, with Lincecum out of the game and Santiago Casilla on the mound, the Dodgers manufactured another run on a single, pinch runner, sac bunt, wild pitch, and a ground out, making the final 2-1, Dodgers. Kershaw gave up three hits, struck out nine, and had one unearned run. In fact, all three runs in the game were manufactured.
6. May 10, 2011, Diamondbacks in San Francisco, Ian Kennedy against Tim Lincecum
Giants left two on in the second after a one-out double by Aubrey Huff. Kelly Johnson singled leading off the fourth for Arizona and stole second, didn’t score. Giants loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, didn’t score. Snakes got two singles in the sixth, didn’t score. The game was scoreless into the bottom of the ninth; David Hernandez replaced Kennedy for the Diamondbacks. Buster Posey singled leading off the ninth, Darren Ford pinch ran for him and stole second, and scored on a one-out single by Cody Ross. San Francisco 1, Arizona 0.
7. September 14, 2011, Philadelphia at Houston, Doc Halladay against Bud Norris
Phillies scored when the first two batters of the game, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco, hit a double and a single. Scoreless ball the rest of the way; Phillies won, 1-0. Norris didn’t give up another hit until the sixth inning; Halladay pitched a five-hit shutout.
8. September 19, 2011, Pittsburgh at Arizona, Jeff Karstens against Ian Kennedy
The only run of the game came on a broken-bat home run in the sixth inning. Justin Upton broke his bat but flied to the wall in left. A fan got his hand on the ball as Pittsburgh left fielder Alex Presley was trying to make the catch. The umpire ruled it a home run, the Pirates objected, the umpires went to the video, and the call was upheld. Kennedy pitched one-hit ball through eight innings, striking out 12. Arizona 1, Pittsburgh 0.
9. July 17, Red Sox at Tampa Bay, Josh Beckett against Jeff Niemann
Beckett pitched a one-hit shutout through eight innings. Niemann answered with a two-hitter, striking out 12. Red Sox manufactured a run in the 16th inning to win it 1-0.
10. July 31, 2011, Angels in Detroit, Jered Weaver against Justin Verlander
This was, in essence, a continuation of the July 5th game (Haren against Verlander), which was the no. 1 game on our list. Weaver came into the game as the leading contender for the Cy Young Award with a record of 14-4 and a 1.79 ERA; Verlander was his top competition at 14-5 and 2.34. Verlander flirted with his second no-hitter of the season. Weaver gave up a walk and a two-run homer to Magglio Ordonez in the third inning. Ordonez watched the home run from home plate, and Weaver screamed at him. The game remained 2-0 until the seventh, Verlander still pitching a no-hitter. In the bottom of the seventh Carlos Guillen homered off of Weaver and clearly taunted him, staring him down and flipping his bat. Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt warned the benches. When Weaver’s next pitch was over the head of Alex Avila, Weaver and Mike Scioscia were ejected from the game. In the top of the eighth, Verlander gave up a single and two unearned runs. Detroit 3, Angels 2.
11. August 4, Philadelphia at San Francisco, Cliff Lee against Madison Bumgarner
Philadelphia 3, San Francisco 0.
12. May 28, Angels in Minnesota, Jered Weaver against Anthony Swarzak
Weaver pitched nine innings of two-hit shutout ball; Swarzak was better, with eight innings of one-hit shutout ball. Twins won it in the 10th inning. Minnesota 1, Angels 0.
13. September 17, 2011, Mets in Atlanta, R. A. Dickey against Tim Hudson
Scoreless duel until two were out in the bottom of the eighth. In the eighth inning Dickey walked the leadoff man, Jason Heyward, who moved to second on a bunt, to third on a groundout, and scored the game’s only run on a single by Chipper Jones. Hudson and Kimbrel, four-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts. Atlanta 1, New York 0.
14. August 6, Phillies in San Francisco, Cole Hamels against Matt Cain
Philadelphia 2, San Francisco 1.
15. June 29, Washington Nationals in Anaheim, Jordan Zimmerman against Dan Haren
Snakebite game for Zimmerman, who lost 1-0 on his own three-base error.
16. April 24, Tampa Bay in Toronto, James Shields against Ricky Romero
Tampa Bay 2, Toronto 0. Ten strikeouts for Romero, four-hit shutout by Shields.
17. September 18, Detroit in Oakland, Verlander against Guillermo Moscoso
Detroit 3, Oakland 0. Moscoso pitched six innings of one-hit, shutout ball, striking out eight.
18. September 20, Giants in L.A., Lincecum against Kershaw, Round 3
Los Angeles 2, Giants 1. (Actually, this was Round 4; see note on Game 32.)
19. August 31, Angels in Seattle, Dan Haren against King Felix
Hernandez pitched a five-hitter, struck out nine, but the Angels manufactured a run against him in the third, and Haren made it stand up until the bottom of the eighth. He got two out in that inning and then Scioscia pulled him after two singles, and a Mariner rookie with a windmill swing doubled them home off the reliever. Seattle 2, Angels 1.
20. August 5, Seattle at Anaheim, Jered Weaver against Jason Vargas
Weaver’s next start after the classic duel with Verlander (no. 10 on the list). Weaver pitched nine innings of shutout ball, but the Angels couldn’t score off of Vargas and a parade of relievers. Angels finally won it in the 10th, 1-0.
21. July 2, Padres in Seattle, Cory Luebke against Doug Fister
This has gone down in history as the Who against What pitchers’ duel. The game was scoreless through four innings. In the fifth inning Cameron Maybin walked for San Diego when the umpire lost track of the count and nobody noticed, allowing Maybin to take first base on three balls. Really. Maybin scored the only run of the game; that was also the game’s only walk. Fister lost on a bogus walk.
22. June 28, Florida in Oakland, Gio Gonzalez against Javier Vazquez
Snakebite loss for Javier Vazquez. A third-inning error by Handsome Hanley Ramirez led to the game’s only run. Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey combined on a one-hitter and struck out 12.
23. June 26, Angels at Dodger Stadium, Jered Weaver against Clayton Kershaw
Scoreless through six innings, Kershaw struck out 11 and didn’t walk anybody. Dodgers beat the Anaheim bullpen, 3-2.
24. July 21, Yankees at Tampa Bay, Sabathia against Shields
A rematch of the game 11 days earlier, which was the no. 2 game on our list. Longoria homered in the first; Sam Fuld tripled home a run in the fifth. Tampa Bay 2, New York 1.
25. August 9, Phillies in Los Angeles, Cliff Lee against Ted Lilly
Philadelphia 2, Los Angeles 1.
26. April 25, Phillies in Phoenix, Cliff Lee against Ian Kennedy
Kennedy pitched a three-hit shutout and struck out 10. Lee struck out 12 but Chris Young hit a couple of bombs. Arizona 4, Philadelphia 0.
27. June 25, Cleveland in San Francisco, Justin Masterson against Matt Cain
The game was scoreless through six innings. In the bottom of the seventh Nate Shierholtz doubled to deep center, but fell down between second and third and was out at third base. Cleveland second baseman Cord Phelps then made two errors on the next three batters, putting runners at first and second with two out, game still tied at 0-0. Tony Sipp replaced Justin Masterson on the mound. Sipp walked the first hitter he faced, loading the bases, and then flinched on the mound. The home plate umpire called one of those Slytherin balk calls that we could live very peacefully without, scoring the only run of the game. Snakebite loss for Justin Masterson. San Francisco 1, Cleveland 0.
28. September 23, Oakland at Anaheim, Gio Gonzalez against Jered Weaver
Several solo homers interrupted what was otherwise a quiet evening. Oakland 3, Anaheim 1.
29. September 24, Phillies in New York, Cole Hamels against R. A. Dickey
(Game 1 of a doubleheader.) Mets 2, Phillies 1.
30. September 9, Yankees in Anaheim, Bartolo Colon against Jered Weaver
An error by Jeter led to the only run against Colon. Weaver dominated for eight innings (3 hits, 1 run, 11 strikeouts). Angels 2, Yankees 1.
31. August 2, Dodgers in San Diego, Mat Latos against Hiroki Kuroda
The only run scored on a fourth-inning single by Matt Kemp. Los Angeles 1, San Diego 0.
32. March 31 (season opener), San Francisco in Los Angeles, Lincecum against Kershaw
The first of four pitchers’ duels between the two studs. The Dodgers got a run in the sixth on errors by Miguel Tejada and Buster Posey. Bullpens exchanged runs in their last at-bats. Dodgers 2, Giants 1; snakebite loss for Lincecum.
Lincecum and Kershaw matched up four times in 2011, Kershaw winning all four contests, all four of them tremendous duels. In the four games Lincecum pitched 29 innings with a 1.24 ERA, but an 0-4 record. Kershaw was 4-0, pitched 30.1 innings with a 0.30 ERA.
33. August 25, Detroit in Tampa Bay, Doug Fister against Jeremy (What the) Hellickson
Austin Jackson drove in two runs with a sac fly and a big fly. Detroit 2, Tampa Bay 0.
34. August 21, Arizona at Atlanta, Tim Hudson against Josh Collmenter (Don’t feel bad; I never heard of him, either)
Atlanta 1, Arizona 0.
35. June 8, Dodgers in Philadelphia, Hiroki Kuroda against Cole Hamels
Eight shutout innings for Hamels, nine strikeouts. Philadelphia 2, Los Angeles 0.
36. July 9, Dodgers in San Diego, Rubby de la Rosa against Aaron Harang
Harang pitched a no-hitter for six innings, was lifted because the pitch count made it clear he couldn’t finish. De la Rosa pitched six innings, allowed one hit. Dodgers got their first hit with two out in the bottom of the ninth, a double followed by a single. Padres had only one hit in the game. Dodgers 1, San Diego 0.
37. June 20, Atlanta in Toronto, Tim Hudson against Ricky Romero
Hudson dominant. Atlanta 2, Toronto 0.
38. August 7, Seattle in Anaheim, Felix Hernandez against Ervin Santana
Hernandez gave up 4 hits, struck out 12, walked nobody, lost the game 2-1.
39. April 11, Rangers in Detroit, Justin Verlander against Alexi Ogando
Texas 2, Detroit 0. It was early season, and Texas was winning every game. This game made them 9-1. When you send Alexi Ogando against Justin Verlander and you win a pitchers’ duel, you’re hot.
40. July 4, Cincinnati at St. Louis, Johnny Cueto against Chris Carpenter
1-0, St. Louis. Only run of the game scored on a pinch-hit single by Matt Hamilton with two out in the bottom of the eighth.
41. July 27, San Francisco in Philadelphia, Matt Cain against Cole Hamels
San Francisco 2, Philadelphia 1. Same pitchers reunited nine days later for the game that was no. 14 on our list; Hamels got even.
42. June 19, Houston in L.A., Bud Norris against Hiroki Kuroda
Norris gave up one hit in six innings; Kuroda three hits in seven innings. Dodgers scored off the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth; 1-0, Dodgers.
Kuroda was 13-16 this year with a 3.07 ERA. That’s a clear sign of how much baseball has returned to normal in the post-steroid era. There have been hundreds of records like that in baseball history, but none in the last twenty years. In 1992 three pitchers lost 15 or more games with ERAs better than 3.20. Since 1992 NO pitcher had done that — until Kuroda.
43. June 14, Cleveland in Detroit, Justin Verlander against Justin Masterson
Verlander pitched his best game of the year, no-hitter or not; he struck out 12 in a two-hit shutout. Detroit 4, Cleveland 0.
44. May 26, Giants in Florida, Ryan Vogelsong against Anibal Sanchez
Five-hit shutout for Sanchez. Vogelsong yielded one run in the seventh, on two singles and a fly ball. Florida 1, San Francisco 0.
45. August 16, Tampa Bay in Boston, James Shields against Jon Lester
First game on the list that I actually saw in the park. Six hits in the game by the two teams; three-run jack by Ellsbury won it. Boston 3, Tampa Bay 1.
46. August 18, Rangers in Anaheim, Colby Lewis against Jered Weaver
0-0 through six innings, starters abandoned it to the bullpens. Angels 2, Texas 1.
47. May 29, Boston in Detroit, Josh Beckett against Justin Verlander
Detroit 3, Boston 0.
48. September 7, Milwaukee in St. Louis, Zack Greinke against Chris Carpenter
St. Louis 2, Milwaukee 0. Complete game 4-hit shutout for Carpenter.
49. April 21, Oakland in Seattle, Brandon McCarthy against Felix Hernandez
McCarthy completed a four-hitter, lost 1-0 on a solo shot by Adam Kennedy.
50. August 13, San Francisco in Florida, Tim Lincecum against Javier Vazquez
Lincecum and Vazquez struck out ten batters each in seven innings each. San Francisco 3, Florida 0.
51. August 23, Arizona in Washington, Ian Kennedy against Jordan Zimmerman
Arizona 2, Washington 0.
52. June 14, Angels in Seattle, Jered Weaver against Doug Fister
Five-hit shutout for Weaver, 4-0 final.
53. August 18, San Francisco in Atlanta, Tim Lincecum against Mike Minor
Mike Minor does his famous Clayton Kershaw impression: six innings, four hits, no runs, nine strikeouts. Fifth-inning homer by Chipper Jones is the game’s only run. Atlanta 1, San Francisco 0.
54. May 19, Angels in Seattle, Dan Haren against Doug Fister
Each starter went eight innings, gave up one run. Angels bullpen lost it in the ninth; Seattle 2, Angels 1.
55. July 2, Cubs and White Sox at Wrigley Field, Philip Humber against Matt Garza
Seven shutout innings for Humber to get the win. White Sox manufactured a run against Garza on a walk, a sac bunt, a wild pitch, and a single, won the game 1-0 despite a complete-game four-hitter by Garza.
56. June 15, Red Sox in Tampa Bay, Josh Beckett against Jeremy Hellickson
One-hit shutout by Josh Beckett. Boston 3, Tampa Bay 0.
57. August 3, Cubs in Pittsburgh, Matt Garza against Charlie Morton
Chicago 1, Pittsburgh 0.
58. June 20, Angels in Florida, Jered Weaver against Anibal Sanchez
Weaver and Sanchez allowed one run each in seven innings each; Angels added one against the bullpen for a 2-1 victory.
59. September 6, Seattle in Anaheim, Felix Hernandez against Ervin Santana
This was a 2-1 victory for Seattle in which all three runs were unearned. Doesn’t qualify as a snakebite loss for Santana because he didn’t quite pitch well enough — six innings, seven hits, two runs, both unearned.
60. September 14, Arizona in L.A., Daniel Hudson against Clayton Kershaw
Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2.
61. September 15, Marlins in Philadelphia, Cliff Lee against Alejandro Sanabia
Cliff Lee pitched nine innings, struck out 12, walked nobody and got a no-decision as the game went into extra innings at 1-1. Phillies won it in the tenth, 2-1.
62. September 28, Kansas City in Minnesota, Bruce Chen against Carl Pavano
First Royals game on the list. Five-hit shutout by Pavano. Chen pitched eight shutout innings, bullpen lost it on a two-single in the bottom of the ninth. Minnesota 1, Kansas City 0.
63. April 14, Philadelphia in Washington, Cliff Lee against Jordan Zimmerman
Three-hit shutout by Lee, 12 strikeouts. Philadelphia 4, Washington 0.
64. May 21, Phillies in Texas, Cliff Lee against Colby Lewis
Another masterpiece by Lee. Philadelphia 2, Texas 0.
65. May 18, Cleveland in Chicago on the South Side, Justin Masterson against Jake Peavy
Masterson gave up a run in the first; Peavy made it hold up with a three-hit shutout. Chicago 1, Cleveland 0.
66. June 18, Padres in Minnesota, Tim Stauffer against Scott Baker
Second-inning homer by Danny Valencia was the game’s only run. Minnesota 1, San Diego 0.
67. June 19, Phillies in Seattle, Cole Hamels against Jason Vargas
Three-hit shutout by Vargas; Seattle 2, Philadelphia 0.
68. September 10, Yankees in Anaheim, Dan Haren against CC Sabathia
Four-hit shutout by Haren; Sabathia struggled but limited the Halos to one run in five innings. Angels scored some runs off the bullpen. Angels 6, Yankees 0.
69. June 9, Mariners in Detroit, Doug Fister against Justin Verlander
Ten Ks for the big dude. Tigers 4, Mariners 1.
70. July 26, Angels in Cleveland, Jered Weaver against Josh Tomlin
Angels 2, Indians 1.
71. July 26, Mariners in New York, Doug Fister against CC Sabathia
Sabathia gave up one hit and struck out 14. Yankees 4, Mariners 1.
This is the sixth Doug Fister game on the list, if you’re wondering. I’ll give counts at the end. Fister has matched up against Weaver, Haren, Verlander, Sabathia, and Hellickson and has lost a game on a three-pitch walk. That’s a tough year.
72. June 16, Florida in Philadelphia, Javier Vazquez against Cliff Lee
Two-hit shutout for Cliff Lee. Philadelphia 3, Florida 0.
73. August 11, Rockies in Cincinnati, Johnny Cueto against Jhoulys Chacin
Cueto gave up three hits and struck out nine. Reds 2, Rockies 1.
74. June 3, Phillies in Pittsburgh, Cole Hamels against Jeff Karstens
Hamels gave up one hit in eight innings, and escaped with a no-decision. Pirates won it 2-1 in 12 innings.
75. September 20, Washington in Philadelphia, Ross Detwiler against Cliff Lee
Detwiler beat Lee, 3-0.
76. July 9, Braves in Philadelphia, Tommy Hanson against Cliff Lee
Hanson and Lee both really good; Braves beat Philadelphia’s bullpen. Atlanta 4, Philadelphia 1.
77. July 10, Detroit at Kansas City, Justin Verlander against Jeff Francis
I attended this game with Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated. It was like 110 degrees or something; it was so hot you couldn’t touch anything. Verlander didn’t seem to notice. Detroit 2, Kansas City 1.
78. August 2, Blue Jays in Tampa Bay, Ricky Romero against David Price
Romero gave up one hit in eight innings. Blue Jays 3, Tampa Bay 1.
79. June 22, Philadelphia in St. Louis, Cliff Lee against Kyle Lohse
Cliff Lee pitched a six-hit shutout. Philadelphia 3, St. Louis 0.
80. September 14, Padres in San Francisco, Mat Latos against Tim Lincecum
Giants 3, Padres 1.
81. September 3, Mariners in Oakland, Brandon McCarthy against Michael Pineda
Three-hit shutout for McCarthy, ten strikeouts. Oakland 3, Seattle 0.
82. July 8, San Diego in Los Angeles, Mat Latos against Chad Billingsley
Scoreless game until the Dodgers scratched out a run in the bottom of the eighth. Los Angeles 1, San Diego 0.
83. June 14, Los Angeles in Cincinnati, Clayton Kershaw against Johnny Cueto
Cueto and Kershaw gave up a run each in seven innings each, but the bullpens weren’t good. Cincinnati 3, Los Angeles 2.
84. June 28, Philadelphia in Fenway Park, Cliff Lee against Josh Beckett
Two-hit shutout for Cliff Lee. Philadelphia 5, Boston 0.
85. May 20, Philadelphia in Texas, Roy Halladay against C. J. Wilson
Philadelphia 3, Texas 2. (The next game in this series was no. 63 on our list — Cliff Lee beat Colby Lewis.)
86. September 18, St. Louis in Philadelphia, Chris Carpenter against Cole Hamels
St. Louis, 5-0.
87. June 12, Washington at San Diego, Jordan Zimmerman against Tim Stauffer
Zimmerman and Stauffer each pitched seven innings of shutout ball, Zimmerman striking out 10. Washington got two runs off of a reliever in the top of the ninth; Washington 2, San Diego 0.
88. June 19, San Francisco across the Bay, Matt Cain against Trevor Cahill
It was 1-1 into the bottom of the eighth; Landon Powell crushed his only home run of the year off of a reliever. Oakland 2, San Francisco 1.
89. Also June 19, Rays and Marlins in Tampa Bay, Chris Volstad against Big Game James Shields
Shields struck out 10, four hits, complete game, only run was unearned. Tampa Bay 2, Florida 1.
90. August 30, Kansas City in Detroit, Jeff Francis against Doug Fister
Fister gave up three hits, one run in seven innings; Francis was two hits and clean through six and a third, but the bullpen lost it for him. Detroit 2, Kansas City 1.
91. May 14, Arizona in Dodger Stadium, Josh Collmenter against Chad Billingsley
Stephen Drew doubled in the second for Arizona and was picked off second, but the throw was wild (E-1) and Drew was safe at third, scored on a sac fly. That was it; that was the only run of the game; that was the only HIT of the game for Arizona. Snakebite game for Billingsley, who pitched eight innings of one-hit ball and also hit a double of his own. Arizona 1, Los Angeles 0.
92. September 5, Boston in Toronto, Josh Beckett against Henderson Alvarez
Beckett left early with a sprained ankle, but the game was scoreless through nine innings, scoreless through 10. Brett Lawrie homered with two out in the bottom of the eleventh. Toronto 1, Boston 0.
93. June 9, Cincinnati in San Francisco, Johnny Cueto against Madison Bumgarner
Seven shutout innings for Cueto; Bumgarner gave up one and the bullpen allowed two. Cincinnati 3, San Francisco 0.
94. June 29, Giants in Chicago, Lincecum against Ryan Dempster
Lincecum good; Dempster better, bullpen got the win and the loss. Chicago 2, San Francisco 1.
95. May 10, Phillies in Florida, Roy Halladay against Josh Johnson
Marlins stole a run in the eighth on a error by Jimmy Rollins, a wild pitch, a ground ball, and a single, beat Halladay 2-1.
96.April 24, Giants in San Diego, Lincecum against Tim Stauffer
San Francisco 2, San Diego 1.
97. July 10, Colorado in Washington, Jhoulys Chacin against Jordan Zimmerman
Washington manufactured a run in the sixth and got one off the bullpen. Washington 2, Colorado 0.
98. June 13, Milwaukee in Chicago, Randy Wolf against Ryan Dempster
Pinch-hit double in the eighth inning set up the only run of the game. Chicago 1, Milwaukee 0.
99. June 24, Oakland in Philadelphia, Guillermo Moscoso against Vance Worley
Scoreless game until two out in the bottom of the ninth; Phillies got an RBI single to save a 1-0 victory.
100. August 21, Blue Jays in Oakland, Luis Perez against Guillermo Moscoso
One-hit shutout for Perez and Casey Janssen, who pitched the last three innings. Solo homer by Bautista was the only run. Toronto 1, Oakland 0.
Among the 100 top pitchers’ duels of 2011, Cliff Lee and Jered Weaver were involved in 11 each, Tim Lincecum in 10, Verlander in eight, Doug Fister, Cole Hamels, and Clayton Kershaw in seven. The best major league pitcher who wasn’t involved in any of the top 100 was Yovanni Gallardo, although Gallardo did have one 1-0 game that somehow didn’t make the list.
What did I really learn from doing this? One thing: Umpires’ mistakes are greatly magnified in a pitchers’ duel. If you look at ordinary games, maybe one in 50 turns on an umpire’s mistake. If the pitchers are dominant, it goes to more like one in ten.
My list of the 100 best pitchers’ duels of 2011 is better than your list, for one reason and one reason only.
You don’t have any list.