Monday, March 31, 2014

A Maddux on Opening Day

There have been only two Madduxes* thrown on Opening Day, each of them thrown by a pitcher who went on to have a great season, each of them thrown by a pitcher who now has at least one Cy Young Award in his trophy case (well, I guess their awards might not actually be in a trophy case, they could be on a mantle somewhere, or perhaps one of them is being used to prop a door open). One was thrown in the American League, the other in the National, but they were both thrown in southern California.

*For those not yet familiar, A Maddux is a shutout in which the starter completes the game on fewer than 100 pitches. You can find all kinds of Maddux factoids here.

The only two pitchers to do it: Bartolo Colon and Clayton Kershaw

Colon pitched his Opening Day Maddux in 2002.

That was his third Opening Day start in a row for the Indians, who faced off against the Angels that day. Colon issued two walks in the 2nd inning, and since free passes are hard on the pitch count, he must have been off pace at that point, but he didn't issue another one all game. He struck out 5, allowed 5 hits, and got one double-play grounder. The Tribe scored 4 runs before he even took the field, making that part of the Maddux (run support) a breeze. Colon ended up throwing 98 pitches. This was 4 years after I first came up with the Maddux.

To that point, I'd only found Madduxes in box scores,  but because it was Opening Day, this game was nationally televised (in fact it was the Sunday night season opener), and so it was the first Maddux I ever watched as it happened. It remains my favorite Opening Day memory.

Kersaw pitched his Opening Day Maddux in 2013.

Like Colon, this was Kershaw's third consecutive Opening Day start. He'd established himself as maybe the best pitcher in all of baseball by the time he took the mound for the Dodgers that afternoon. Through 8 innings pitched, Kershaw hadn't walked anyone, and he'd allowed only 3 hits (all singles). He was barely over 80 pitches, so he was in great shape to complete the Maddux. Unfortunately, the Dodgers still hadn't scored any runs, so it seemed like 9 innings might not be enough.

Kershaw led off the bottom of the 8th, and decided to take matters into his own hands, smashing a 400-foot home run to center field and scoring the only run he needed (though his teammates then decided to get off their duffs and score three more that inning). He pitched the 9th and finished the game on just 94 pitches.

Can anyone join Bartolo and Clayton today???


2 comments:

  1. This is my all time favorite baseball stat, thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete