Last night during the Phillies-Giants game, Cliff Lee threw ten scoreless innings for the Phillies. He allowed seven hits, struck out seven, and didn’t walk a batter. Of course, as soon as Lee was pulled for the beginning of the eleventh inning, the Phillies lost the game. It’s very rare to see a pitcher throw ten innings in a game, and had me wondering when the last time that happened. But Lee’s game wasn’t just a typical innings eating extravaganza. He also didn’t walk a batter. So what’s the history look like for pitchers throwing ten or more shutout innings without a walk?
It last happened in 2005, when Mark Mulder of the Cardinals shut out the Astros. The Cardinals would get a run and end up winning the game to preserve Mulder’s shutout. He allowed five hits and struck out five in his ten shutout innings, actually throwing just 101 pitches in comparison to Lee’s 102.
Before Mulder, this occurence hadn’t happened for a decade. It actually occured in 1994, when Bret Saberhagen of the Mets threw ten shutout innings against the Padres, allowing five hits and striking out 11. The game would end up going 14 innings, with the Mets losing 2-1.
This type of outing also happened twice in August of 1990. Nolan Ryan threw ten shutout innings for the Rangers against the White Sox, allowing three hits and striking out 15. This is the type of game where Ryan was at his best, showing unhittable stuff and not having any control problems. Erik Hanson also had this happen in August 1990, allowing just two hits for the Mariners against the A’s, striking out 11.
As good as Ryan’s performance was in the modern era, it wasn’t the best outing of its type. Jose DeLeon, another Cardinal, actually went 11 innings, striking out eight while allowing just one hit. Strangely, out of all the performances I listed, only Mulder and Ryan’s teams won the game, with only Mulder actually picking up the win.
The best performance of all-time like this though, happened way back in 1933. Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants threw 18 no-run, no-walk innings against the Cardinals, striking out 12 while allowing six hits. Pitch counts aren’t available for starts back then, but could you imagine just how many pitches Hubbell threw? It would probably be an insane number, enough to make analysts’ head explode.