Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Maddux

Greg Maddux is my favorite pitcher ever, and it's not particularly close. I tend to be more drawn to position players, but Maddux has always been an exception. I know the strikeout is the "best" out, but growing up, I didn't want to be accused of fascism, so I liked pitchers who got grounders and weak pop flies, or if they struck guys out, did it by painting the corners. I realize there's a bit more to it than that, and a bit more to Maddux too, but I was a good pitcher without being able to throw very hard, and I loved me some Greg Maddux. In 1998, I came across a box score for a game in which Maddux had thrown a complete game shutout, and used fewer than 100 pitches. I LOVED it! Ever since then, I've kept my eye out for such games and calling such a pitching line a "Maddux."


Requirements for a Maddux:


The pitcher must toss a complete game shutout, and throw fewer than 100 pitches.

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OTHER POSTS WITH INFO ON THE MADDUX:

For how many Madduxes each team has thrown and had thrown against it, click here.
For the youngest and oldest pitchers to throw a Maddux, click here.
For the fewest career games before a pitcher's first Maddux, click here.
For the seven times two Madduxes were thrown on the same day, click here.
For a look at pitchers who lost a Maddux due to unearned runs, click here.
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LAST UPDATED: September 17, 2014


Allow me to tip my hat to Baseball-Reference and their Play Index. It's made compiling everything that follows possible (I've come a long way from scribbling them down in a notebook when I happened to notice one in a box score).

Madduxes are fairly rare, there have been an average of roughly ten per season, going back to 1988, when MLB pitch counts began to be kept consistently (there are various games with listed pitch counts before then, but also many games when the listed count is obviously wrong, so 1988 is the most legitimate starting point that can be used). There are 289 Madduxes on record since then.

Career Maddux leaders (1988-2013):
1. Greg Maddux       13
2. Zane Smith            7
3. Bob Tewksbury     6
t4. Tom Glavine         5
t4. Roy Halladay        5

How can you not love a stat with that leader board?! Other active notables include: Henderson Alvarez, Bartolo Colon, and James Shields, with 4 each; Josh Beckett, Derek Holland, Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, and Jason Marquis each have 3.

Maddux (1998) and Zane Smith (1991) share the single-season record with 3 Madduxes apiece.

Seasons with the most Madduxes:
1988: 25
1990: 20
1992: 18
1989: 16
1993: 14

On the opposite end of things, the fewest Madduxes in any season is 3, in 1999.

In the 2000s, the highest total is 13, in 2009. While scoring has been down in the last few seasons and pitching numbers look better, it's not clear that the Maddux is set to rise to the level it was at 20-25 years ago. I suspect this is due in part to strikeout totals climbing, making it more difficult to finish a game on so few pitches.

Other Maddux data:

* It's hard to strike too many guys out in a Maddux, because of course Ks require a minimum of three pitches. Yet,  on 13 different occasions, a pitcher has managed to hit a double-digit strikeout total while twirling a Maddux. The record: 12 strikeouts, by Cliff Lee, on April 14th, 2011, against the Nationals. UPDATE: The strikeout record was tied by Carlos Carrasco on September 17, 2014.

* On the other hand, it's tough to record a shutout without any strikeouts. Zane Smith, Tom Glavine, and Rick Porcello are the only pitchers to throw a Maddux without striking anyone out.

* Walks are the death knell of the Maddux. 168 of the 289 Madduxes since 1988 (58.1%) were accomplished with zero walks, while Mike Witt and Chuck Finley were each able to throw one while walking four batters.

* On August 3rd, 2004, Carlos Silva somehow threw a Maddux while giving up 11 hits. They were all singles, and he got four double play balls. Living dangerously, Carlos, living dangerously.

* Dennis Martinez, Kevin Gross, Chris Bosio, Kenny Rogers, Kevin Brown, David Cone, Derek Lowe, Philip Humber, and Henderson Alvarez all threw a no-hitter Maddux. Martinez, Rogers, Cone, and Humber each had a perfect Maddux.

* 31 Madduxes have been 1-0 games, including Roy Halladay's performance on September 6th, 2003, when he became the only pitcher to throw an extra-inning Maddux, going 10 frames on just 99 pitches.

* The highest-scoring Maddux was a 16-0 contest in 2005, in which Mike Hampton worked around what must have been a lot of sitting in the dugout time to lock down the Maddux.

* As I said, there are only full regular season pitch count records since 1988, so that's the starting point for things here, but pitch counts were kept in the playoffs a few years earlier than that. For the years in which we have those records, there has been just one postseason Maddux though, thrown by Bret Saberhagen in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, when he shut the Cardinals out on just 92 pitches and won himself World Series MVP honors.

* Just as some no-hitters are better than others, some Madduxes are a little more impressive than the rest. 99 pitches is accomplishment enough, but some guys were able to do it on far fewer pitches.

Fewest pitches in a Maddux:
1. Jon Lieber            78
t2. Aaron Cook         79
t2. Bob Tewksbury   79
t2. Kevin Brown        79
5. Doug Drabek        80

I would also point out that on August 13, 2006, a 40-year-old Greg Maddux pitched 8 shutout innings on just 68 pitches. Sadly, manager Grady Little would not let him finish what could have been the record.

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Why do I bring all this up now? Well, in case you didn't see what went down in San Francisco this evening, Cliff Lee and Matt Cain had an absolute duel. They matched one another, scoreless frame for scoreless frame. Through nine innings, Lee had thrown just 89 pitches. Cain had been almost as efficient, with 91 pitches. Double-Maddux!!!

Except of course, you have to pitch the entire game, and with both pitchers going the distance without giving up a single run, the game would continue. Cain came out of the game for a pinch-hitter at that point, but Lee went back out for the 10th. That in itself was something of a big deal, as no pitcher had pitched a 10th inning since Aaron Harang in 2007. The Phillies still hadn't given him any run support though, and he was at 102 pitches by the time he finished the 10th.

The first Maddux of 2012 will have to wait. Perhaps Lee or Cain will go on to throw one their next time out. Maybe Jamie Moyer, who earlier this week became the oldest player in MLB history to record a win, will be the one to do it. It could be Roy Halladay, climbing into a tie for 3rd place along the way. Most likely it will be none of those men. An unexpected source will probably be the first one to do it this season. That's the beauty of the Maddux, you can never know when it will happen. Not now that Greg has retired, anyway.




77 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It was Clay Hensley, which makes sense, he did get one batter out after all.

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  2. Josh Johnson will be the 1st of 2012, just you watch...

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    1. Your bet is duly noted for the office pool. A $1 bet on Jonathan Sanchez might pay for a house!

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  3. Doggie is my all-time favorite pitcher as well. I now have a new all-time favorite statistic. Thanks to you, and thanks to Craig Calcaterra for linking to your blog so I could add this to my treasure trove of baseball knowledge.

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    1. I'm thrilled you like it so much. I don't know if you're on Twitter or not, but my handle is @Lukehart80 and I'll be sure to note any "Maddux" that occurs.

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  4. You seem to have limited your search to 1988 onwards. The full (post-1917) leader board is:

    1. Maddux – 13
    2. Smith – 7
    t3. Tewksbury – 6
    t3. Newcombe – 6
    t5. Koufax – 5
    t5. Halladay – 5
    t5. Glavine – 5
    t5. Drysdale – 5

    followed by Roe, Moyer, Colon & Bosio (4) and Wells, Valdez, Shields, Schilling, Radke, Podres, Oswalt, Navarro, Mulholland, Marquis, Hudson, Carpenter, Browning & Beckett (3).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pitch count data seems pretty incomplete before 1988, which is why I chose that as my starting point. I figured it was better to be accurate for a somewhat shorter time frame, instead of a longer frame with missing games. It makes the numbers of guys like Newcombe, Koufax, and Drysdale even more impressive, as they likely threw a few more Madduxes than are shown.

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  5. Humber with the perfect-Maddux!

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    1. Which is crazy! I said it would be someone random, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon, or in such incredible fashion!

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  6. Joe Blanton just threw a Maddux!

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    1. And he did it WAY under the cutoff, using just 88 pitches. Over the last ten years, this is only the 11th time a pitcher has thrown a Maddux with under 90 pitches.

      A hat tip to the Phillies' ace (that is Blanton, right?)

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  7. Kyle Kendrick just threw a Maddux!! (no, really!)

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    1. On the same day as Johan Santana. I leave home for the weekend, and it was raining Madduxes in the N.L. East on Saturday!

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  8. Maddux from another Brave, Paul Maholm!

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    1. Actually, this is the 3rd Maddux of Maholm's career (the other two both came while he was with Pittsburgh). He and James Shields are now the only pitchers to throw a Maddux in each of the last two seasons.

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  9. Is there an official "The Maddux" tracker out there somewhere?

    ;)

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    1. I wish I knew how to put one together!

      Clayton Kershaw's Opening Day gem qualified, and I'm gonna try to put together a quick write up on it over the weekend.

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    2. Maybe a Twitter account with a profile link to a running total on your blog? When there is a new one, update the blog post total, and send out a tweet about it? ?

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  10. And tonight, Kershaw added a second consecutive Maddux!

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    1. No, you've got to pitch a complete game to get the Maddux, and while Kershaw dominated again, he came out after 7 innings last night. He would seem to have a pretty good chance at pitching another one at some this season though!

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  11. Jordan Zimmerman made it look ready tonight. I thought Kyle Kendrick had another one up his sleeve for a minute too (wound up with 8 extra pitches)

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    1. You don't even need a Maddux tracker, you're always on top of them! 91 pitches for ZImmermann, very impressive stuff. You may recall, Kendrick pitched one last year, so he'd have been a multiple-Maddux throwing pitcher if he could have pulled it off tonight.

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  12. Just read about this from Jonah Keri on Grantland. Awesome stuff, dude. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for some Madduxes.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. There have been a lot of close calls the last couple weeks (including Matt Harvey last night) and I'd bet we get at least one new one by the end of May. Perhaps Kershaw or Zimmermann tonight will pitch their second of the season.

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  13. Just came across this post from Grantland as well. It's great, but I just noticed you didn't make any mention of how Cliff Lee's awesome 12-K Maddux fell on Greg Maddux's 45th birthday!

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    1. I hadn't noticed that!

      No one has ever thrown a Maddux on their own birthday, but Greg did throw one the day after his 32nd birthday.

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  14. Add in the fact that Maddux was a GREAT fielder, and could help himself with the bat...decent hitter, and outstanding bunter who could always move a runner along...and he might be the pitcher who got the absolute MOST out of his talent. The only pitchers I can think of who were definitely better were some of the ones with the strong arms and 95+ fastballs. (And there were a lot of pitchers with that kind of arm who weren't nearly as good as Maddux.) Great player, and if I needed a pitching coach, he'd be the first person I would call.

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    1. I have to think he's been contacted by teams hoping he'd become their pitching coach. It must cut too far into his golf calendar.

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  15. "and could help himself with the bat"

    Chicks dig the long ball...

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  16. The Lieber game was such a joke. The Reds got hit w a rash of injuries, it was getaway day and all theydid was hack. Thought mgr Boone should've been fired for it at the time and I'm a Cub fan

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  17. Haha, I was at that 2004 Carlos Silva gem, if memory serves me right, he did it on 84 pitches (while giving up 11 hits???!!!). I left Dome stunned. Looking back, it's even more stunning because it was Carlos freaking Silva.

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    1. It's impressive that we was able to allow so many base runners without any of them scoring, much less getting through the game on so few pitches.

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  18. One of my favorite games is Lary Sorensen's 72-pitch shutout in 1979. Hopefully this link works: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=MSMWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7hEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6524%2C1381783

    Here's the baseball-reference box: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL197905060.shtml

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    1. Very cool!

      I wish pitch count records had been fully kept before 1988, it'd be neat to see who threw the most from earlier years. It's neat that the pitch count was documented in the game recap for that one, thanks for sharing the link.

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  19. R.A. Dickey with the knuckling Maddux today!

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  20. Is Dickey the oldest pitcher to ever throw a Maddux?

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    1. He is the 5th-oldest. You can see a list of the oldest (and youngest) guys to do it here:

      http://groundballwitheyes.blogspot.com/2013/05/more-random-info-on-maddux.html?showComment=1372303269064#c7853719784916694126

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  21. Glad to be among fellow Mad-Dogs. Looking forward to the HoF vote next year - will he challenge Tom Seaver's record for highest vote percentage?

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    1. When he retired, I would have thought so, but HOF voting has become such a mess, with blank protest ballots, some feeling there are more deserving candidates than they're allowed to vote for, etc. I think Maddux gets more votes than anyone and coasts in easily, but I can't see him breaking that record anymore.

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  22. Maddux freak here. I'm speechless. Just fantastic stuff, Jason.

    Did you ever think about including a time of game metric in the Maddux? He was also famous for those super-quick ballgames since he threw so few pitches and worked so quickly.

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  23. Thanks, I'm glad you like it.

    Time-of-game would be a cool thing to look at, but I don't know of any easy way to do it. I lived in L.A. for a while, and vividly remember driving down to San Diego to see Jake Peavy and Roger Clemens duel (this was in 2005, when Clemens was an Astro). Each of them pitched a complete game, Peavy's was a shutout. The game took 1:53 and on my way driving back to Hollywood I got stuck in Dodger Stadium traffic because their game had only just ended.

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  24. I may have found the Maddux pre-pitch-count-era with the fewest pitches, and it's an unbelievable number.

    Charlie "Red" Barrett of the Boston Braves threw a 58 pitch 2-hit shutout against the Reds on August 10, 1944. The game only took 1 hr 15 min, making it also the shortest night game in baseball history.

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/boxscore/08101944.shtml

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  25. Dallas Braden threw a perfect Maddux! A's get no love.

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  26. Jason - great stat. The Maddux deserves national recognition.

    I'm watching the Rays-Yankees game over the weekend and found myself rooting for Chris Archer to get the Maddux (he did - 97 pitches). He began the 9th on 85, leading 1-0. Although the Yanks never threatened, Archer started falling behind in counts. If Gardner doesn't whiff on a TERRIBLE pitch in the dirt for the 2nd out? No Maddux! That night on SportsCenter, as game highlights played, I kept waiting for the announcer to proclaim "The Maddux".

    Alas, there is work to do.

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    1. I was out of the country for this one, but excited to find that in its aftermath, Jonah Keri (who has done more to spread word of the Maddux than I'm capable of with my limited reach) mentioned my name on his podcast, while discussing the Rays with Rany Jazayerli.

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  27. Stephen Strasburg with a 99-pitch Maddox for his first ever shut out and complete game vs. the Phillies yesterday. Notably, he kept the pitch count down even though he had 10 Ks and a 10-pitch at-bat with Darin Ruf.

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    1. Strasburg's is just the 12th Maddux with 10+ strikeouts. It's also the 4th in Nationals history, to go with 4 they had as the Expos.

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  28. Love this new stat. I'm always on the lookout for them. Quick question. Do you know how many Madduxes have been thrown against each team?

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    1. You can now find that info here:

      http://groundballwitheyes.blogspot.com/2013/08/each-teams-madduxes-and-madduxes-against.html

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  29. Ivan Nova came within 4 pitches of a Maddux tonight (9 IP, 0 ER, 104 pitches).

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    1. I saw that. He had a chance at it all the way into the 9th. His first career shutout is a pretty good consolation prize.

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  30. Andrew Cashner with a Maddux for the Padres. One measly hit away from a perfect game. Don't anybody remind me that the Padres are the only team without a no-hitter.

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    1. Yes, the Padres remain in search of their first no hitter (sorry, I reminded you), but the 8th Maddux in franchise history is still pretty damn good, and Cashner becomes only the 13th pitcher to throw a Maddux while facing the minimum 27 batters.

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  31. Do you have a list of 9IP or CGs with the lowest numbers of pitches that do not qualify as a Maddux because the pitcher gave up a run? I remember a 75 pitch gem by Andy Ashby that didn't count because he gave up two runs (still got the win, 7-2: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/06/sports/national-league-roundup-ashby-and-vaughn-turn-in-all-star-efforts.html Not bad for a game at Denver.

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    1. There have been 270 games since 1988 in which a pitcher threw a complete game on under 100 pitches, but allowed at least one run.

      In 6 of those games, the pitcher threw fewer than 80 pitches (compared to only 4 Madduxes on fewer than 80):

      t1) Carlos Silva (5/20/05) - 74 pitches, 1 R
      t1) Aaron Cook (7/25/07) - 74 pitches 2 R
      t3) Bob Tewksbery (8/29/90) - 75 pitches, 1 R
      t3) Andy Ashby (7/5/98) - 75 pitches, 2 R
      5) Greg Maddux (7/22/97) - 76 pitches, 1 R
      6) Tom Glavine (6/15/93) -79 pitches, 1 R

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  32. I am not-so-secretly hoping that this stat becomes famous during his upcoming HOF acceptance speech!

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  33. josh collmenter, welcome to the maddux club. And facing the minimum no less!

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    1. Yes, a very impressive performance by Collmenter. Only the second Maddux of 2014, and only the sixth in Diamondbacks history.

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  34. Kyle Lohse! He also went 2-3 at the plate, with two RBI.

    Also: KYLE LOHSE!

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  35. henderson alvarez with TWO madduxes this year!

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    1. And 4 in his career already, making him one of just 10 pitchers with at least that many.

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  36. Greg Maddux was 133-112 with the Chicago Cubs. Why the FO ever let him slip out of the Windy City is absolutely ridiculous!!!!!

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  37. I was a 16 year old immigrant to the US in 1990 and had no interest in baseball or other major american sports (because I had no prior exposure to them). My sport of choice was football better known as soccer in this part of the world. Sadly soccer coverage was nonexistent in those days and the internet was a dream in some techies minds. In 1993 a friend introduced me to baseball and it was the slowest game ever!! I couldn't get myself to watch one complete game. And then I heard of the Cy Young award and how this pitcher named Greg Maddux had won it the second straight year. I started watching him pitch (on TBS :-). To me he seemed like the guy next door and he flat-out dominated larger-than-life guys at the plate. He didn't overpower them, he outsmarted them. Not knowing much about the game at the time, Mad Dog literally got me into baseball. From that time on I followed every game he pitched to the end of his distinguished career. What an athlete and exemplary ambassador of the sport.

    I want to thank you for this blog cos I had no idea about THE MADDUX. Its another stunning stat to add to his remarkable achievements. I've always wondered if he could be somehow immortalized in the lexicon of baseball...and THIS IS IT!!

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  38. I came up with "The Kingman Line," noted for Brian Kingman, the most proud 20-game loser in MLB history. Hence, the Kingman Line is 20 losses in a season. As a fellow terminology inventor (and Greg Maddux admirer), I'd like to see "the Maddux" gain recognition. Good luck.

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  39. Wow... Vance Worley one pitch too many tonight for the Pirates

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    1. I thought he had it with one out in the 9th, but that next AB used a whole lot of pitches. So close...

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  40. Roy Halladay's first career Maddux on Sept 29 2002 was a 10 inning affair. How many other Extra Inning Maddux Games have been thrown?

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    1. It's among the items in this post (but I know there are a lot of them): Halladay's extra-innings Maddux is the only one on the books. Pretty darn good, that guy.

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  41. Doc was awesome. Missed a 6th career won by 1 pitch too

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  42. Kluber has potential to hurl a maddux every time he goes out there

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    1. He was awesome tonight. The Indians are the team I live and die with, so it was great fun for me to watch this one.

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  43. Kloobs was nails 2nite. Any figures available for most Ks in a Maddux? 8 with 85 pitches is wicked + efficient.

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  44. Well now i see extribe man Cliff the witch Lee with 12. I miss Cliff.

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    1. In addition to his record strikeout total in a Maddux (with the Phillies), Cliff also pitched the last Maddux by an Indians pitcher (until tonight), back in 2009.

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  45. Hey - I think you missed the BEST MADDUX of them all

    Don Larsen's perfect game in the 5th game of the `56 series - officially 97 pitches.

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