Near-Hitters

Having completely forgotten the Red Sox were playing an afternoon game yesterday, I was hard at work when someone in the office who knows I’m a Red Sox fan (not sure how — it’s not like I have baseball cards and SI covers all over my desk) says: "Hey Paul, Curt Schilling’s got a no-hitter in the ninth inning." The whole newsroom was watching, and when Lugo (barely) fielded the second out, I felt sure Curt would get it. I still have yet to see a no-hitter on live TV. That was the closest. *sigh*

The ramifications of Curt’s start stretch beyond mere personal glory. The Red Sox were struggling. Still are, considering they scored just one run yesterday. Schilling shut down the opposition on just 100 pitches, almost single-handedly providing the win the team needed. We’ve seen him do this time and again, during the 2004 regular season, the 2004 ALCS, the 2006 season (when it still mattered), and once again this week. Sometimes, just when we’re set to crown someone else the ace of the staff, Curt Schilling reminds us that he’s still the stopper. Still the guy you want on the mound when you need that win.

Bravo, Curt. And thanks.

That all said, let’s have some fun with Bill James’ game score, in which 50 is a quality start, 80 is an amazing start, and 90+ is an historically great start. Schilling’s game score was 89, a number that’s pretty low for what essentially was one hit away from a perfect game. Schilling only struck out four, and the game score penalizes pitchers who rely more on defense (and thus luck) for a lot of their outs.

The one-hitter ties Curt’s 14-K performance in 2004 as the best game he’s ever pitched in a Boston uniform and the seventh-best of his career. You want to talk Hall of Fame? If he’d thrown the perfect game, it would still rank just sixth. Only six pitchers since 1957 have thrown game scores of 100 or better in a nine-inning game (Wood, Ryan three times, Koufax, Johnson, Schilling and Spahn).

  1. 100 — 4/7/02 — one-hitter, two walks, 17 strikeouts
  2. 96 — 5/14/03 — two-hitter, one walk, 14 strikeouts
  3. 95 — 8/21/96 — two-hitter, no walks, 12 strikeouts
  4. 93 — 4/10/01 — two-hitter, no walks, 10 strikeouts (only 93 pitches!)
  5. 92 — 4/10/98 — two-hitter, one walk, 10 strikeouts
  6. 90 — 8/17/03 — 8 IP, one hit, two walks, 12 strikeouts

The other three starts in his career in which Schilling put up an 89 game score:

  • 9/21/04 — 8 IP, three hits, one walk, 14 strikeouts (no decision)
  • 5/9/03 — four-hitter, no walks, 10 strikeouts
  • 9/9/92 — complete game, one hit, one run, no walks, 8 strikeouts

On the other end of the spectrum, the worst start of Schilling’s career was an amazing negative-one game score, when he gave up 11 runs (seven earned) in 2.2 IP with the Phillies in 1993.

Over the last 50 years of Red Sox pitching, Schilling’s game yesterday ties him for 38th. Hideo Nomo has the best (99), but it’s not his no-hitter (in which he walked three). It’s his one-hitter that same year, with no walks and 14 strikeouts. Pedro Martinez three times threw a game score of 98. Here are the 10 game scores of 89 or better posted by Red Sox pitchers since 2000:

  1. Schilling yesterday, 89
  2. Schilling in 2004, 89
  3. Derek Lowe, 4/27/02, no-hitter, one walk, six strikeouts, 92
  4. Nomo, 5/5/01, one-hitter, no walks, 14 strikeouts, 99
  5. Pedro Martinez, 4/8/01, 8 IP, three hits, three walks, 16 strikeouts, 89
  6. Nomo, 4/4/01, no-hitter, three walks, 11 strikeouts, 95
  7. Martinez, 8/29/00, one-hitter, one walk, 13 strikeouts, 98
  8. Martinez, 7/23/00, CG, six hits, no walks, 15 strikeouts, 90
  9. Martinez, 6/8/00, 8 IP, one hit, one walk, nine strikeouts, 89
  10. Martinez, 5/12/00, two-hitter, no walks, 15 strikeouts, 98

This research done with Baseball-Reference Play Index.

6 comments… add one
  • Great post. Paul. Interesting stuff.

    Andrews June 8, 2007, 11:21 am
  • Where does Clemens 2 20 k performances rank?

    Tom sf June 8, 2007, 2:02 pm
  • Clemen’s top game scores,90+:
    99: 1998-08-25, TOR KCR, 3-0, SHO9, 3h 0r, 0er, 0bb, 18k, 0hr
    99: 1998-08-25, TOR KCR, 3-0, SHO9, 3h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 18k, 0hr
    97: 1997-09-07, TOR TEX, 4-0, SHO9, 2h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 14k, 0hr
    97: 1996-09-18, BOS @DET, 4-0, SHO9, 5h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 20k, 0hr
    97: 1986-04-29, BOS SEA, 3-1, CG, 9, 3h, 1r, 1er, 0bb, 20k, 1hr
    96: 1988-05-09, BOS @KCR, 2-0, SHO9, 3h, 0r, 0er, 1bb, 16k, 0hr
    95: 1987-10-04, BOS MIL, 4-0, SHO9, 2h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 12k, 0hr
    94: 1989-06-16, BOS @CHW, 2-0, SHO9, 2h, 0r, 0er, 1bb, 12k, 0hr
    92: 1992-04-12, BOS @CLE, 3-0, SHO9, 2h, 0r, 0er, 3bb, 12k, 0hr
    92: 1991-04-13, BOS CLE, 4-0, SHO9, 3h, 0r, 0er, 0bb, 11k, 0hr
    91: 1994-04-20, BOS OAK, 2-0, SHO9, 2h, 0r, 0er, 2bb, 10k, 0hr
    91: 1988-07-25, BOS @TEX, 2-0, SHO9, 3h, 0r, 0er, 4bb, 14k, 0hr
    90: 1991-08-26, BOS @OAK, 3-0, SHO9, 3h, 0r, 0er, 1bb, 10k, 0hr
    90: 1988-07-15, BOS KCR, 3-1, CG, 9, 5h, 1r, 0er, 1bb, 16k, 0hr

    attackgerbil June 8, 2007, 2:43 pm
  • did anyone else hear the reports that the yankees clubhouse was high fiving each other and celebrating after hearing of schilliings no no getting broken up? can’t find anything on it outside of the dan patrick show. if so….we’ve found the new low point in the yankees ’07 season.

    sf rod June 8, 2007, 3:03 pm
  • Interesting that Clemens is only fourth on the Sox list of all-time greatest games (in the last 50 years, so not exactly “all-time”). It’s because in both 20-K games, Clemens gave up hits and runs, whereas Nomo and Pedro gave up one or two hits, struck out nearly as many and zero runs. Ks are worth one, while hits are worth two and earned runs are worth four points in the GS formula.

    Paul SF June 8, 2007, 3:27 pm
  • Utterly weird fact: The lone hit that broke up Hideo Nomo’s no-hit bid on 5/5/01 was…Shannon Stewart. Go figure.

    James June 10, 2007, 7:48 am

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