Posted May 12, 2013

Pitching pearls in pairs: Lester, Miller nearly perfect

Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals
Shelby Miller gave up a leadoff hit, then set down the next 27 Colorado hitters in order. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Shelby Miller gave up a leadoff hit, then set down the next 27 Colorado hitters in order. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Call it dueling dominance in red: St. Louis’ Shelby Miller and Boston’s Jon Lester each threw a one-hit, no-walk, complete-game shutout. All Miller allowed was a single by the Rockies’ Eric Young, Jr. to lead off the game; Lester allowed only a sixth-inning double to the Blue Jays’ Maicer Izturis.

Friday night was the first time in baseball history that two pitchers threw one-hit, no-walk complete games on the same night — or at least since 1916, the earliest season available in Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index database.

Miller’s performance particularly stood out for three reasons:

  1. After the leadoff single, he retired 27 consecutive hitters.
  2. He had 13 strikeouts.
  3. His shutout came against the Rockies, who are the NL’s highest-scoring team.

Lester, who threw a no-hitter against the Royals in May 2008, had five strikeouts on Friday — which, incidentally, is only one more than the Rays’ Alex Cobb had in a bizarre third inning in which he struck out four Padres and gave up a run but didn’t allow a hit or a walk. (The first strikeout victim, Will Venable, reached on a wild-pitch third strike, then stole second and third base, then scored on a balk by Cobb.) In all, Cobb notched 13 strikeouts while recording only 14 outs, leaving after 4 2/3 innings with three runs allowed.

The stars of the night, of course, were Miller and Lester, whose matching performances called to mind a few other paired masterpieces of the last quarter-century.

June 29, 1990:  The Athletics’ Dave Stewart and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela threw no-hitters on the same night, with Stewart blanking the Blue Jays and Valenzuela denying the Cardinals.

May 3-4, 1996: The Rangers’ Ken Hill and Roger Pavlik threw complete-game, one-hit, no-walk performances against the Tigers on back-to-back days, though the one hit Pavlik allowed was a solo homer, so his wasn’t also a shutout.

May 25, 2001: The Cubs’ Kerry Wood and the Red Sox’ Hideo Nomo both threw complete-game, one-hit shutouts on the same night; both struck out 14 hitters, with Wood walking two and Nomo not walking any. Wood’s performance came against the Brewers one day after his then-teammate, Jon Lieber, had his own complete-game, one-hit shutout (with one walk) against the Reds.

April 26, 2002: The Dodgers’ Odalis Perez and the Mets’ Shawn Estes each threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout on the same night; Estes walked one and Perez didn’t walk any.

June 16, 2012: The Orioles’ Jason Hammel and Ervin Santana, then with the Angels, both threw complete-game, one-hit shutouts on the same night, though each walked a few. R.A. Dickey, then with the Mets, matched the two of them just two days later.

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