Epic Pitching Performances on the Same Night

Last night, Matt Cain and R.A. Dickey combined to allow one hit in 18 innings, striking out 26 guys in the process. It was two of the very best performances of the year, and they happened on the same night. So, that got me thinking – how often do we get two stellar performances on the same day?

To answer the question, we’ll turn back to Game Score (again, not perfect, but good enough for this exercise), and look for dates where two pitchers both posted a Game Score of 90 or higher. Because this is kind of labor intensive and the game is a bit different now than it used to be, I’m only going back 20 years, but that should still give us a pretty good idea of how rare it is for two pitchers to be that good on the same day.

Anyway, here is the breakdown.

9/8/93: Darryl Kile (93) and Jason Bere (91) – 17 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 22 K
9/21/93: Randy Johnson (91) + Todd Stottlemyre (90) – 18 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 21 K
7/15/94: Bret Saberhagen (93) and Andy Benes (91) – 18 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 25 K
9/17/95: Ismael Valdez (92) and Patt Rapp (91) – 18 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 K
9/4/99: Pedro Martinez (90) and Kevin Brown (90) – 17 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 23 K
9/29/00: Chan Ho Park (95) and Ron Villone (92) – 18 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 6 BB, 29 K
5/25/01: Hideo Nomo (99) and Kerry Wood (97) – 18 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 28 K
4/26/02: Shawn Estes (92) and Odalis Perez (91) – 18 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K
8/17/03: Mike Mussina (90) and Curt Schilling (90) – 16 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 21 K
4/16/04: Roy Oswalt (91) and Randy Johnson (90) – 18 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 18 K
5/18/04: Randy Johnson (100) and Jason Schmidt (97) – 18 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 26 K
7/8/10: Roy Oswalt (91) and John Danks (90) – 18 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 15 K
6/13/12: Matt Cain (101) and R.A. Dickey (95) – 18 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 26 K

13 times in 20 years, two guys have put up 90+ game scores on the same night. But, in most instances, one or both guys just barely clears the hurdle – only the Johnson/Schmidt duo in 2004 and the Nomo/Wood pair in 2001 featured both pitchers with a game score of 95 or higher, as we saw last night. And, given that Dickey’s game score is only lower than Schmidt’s due to the unearned run he allowed, you could probably argue that last night’s tandem was the best pair of pitching performances we’ve seen on the same night in since 1993 (and possibly before that, if any of you want to do the work and go back further). Of course, Game Score doesn’t adjust for park/era/opponent, so perhaps the fact that we’re back in a lower run environment now does tilt the scales back towards Johnson/Schmidt, but again, we’re hair splitting here. The point is that we don’t get nights like that very often.

Speaking of Johnson, I hope you noticed he’s on this list three times. What a beast.

Also, some of the names on this list are fantastic – Pat Rapp! Ron Villone! Odalis Perez! This was worth doing just for those finds.

On most nights, we’d be talking about what Lance Lynn, Wade Miley, Felix Dubront, and Jake Arrieta, did last night. Last night was not most nights, however. Last night belonged to Matt Cain and R.A. Dickey.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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I own Dickey, Doubront, and Cain in one of my fantasy leagues. Needless to say, It was quite the bitter night for the other guy as they were pitching.

Big Jgke
Big Jgke

Cool story bro. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Kevin S.
Kevin S.

That’s a clown comment, bro.