I remember it just like it was yesterday – August 24th, 2005, sitting behind the plate at Petco Park in San Diego. Roger Clemens and his larger than life persona took the mound against the Padres Jake Peavy, who long idolized the grizzly fireballer as a youth. It was legend versus pupil – old Cy Young’s versus new Cy Young’s. It was a game that the Padres eventually won 2-0, but more than the final score, the pitching matchup itself was epic. No, it wasn’t a shutout and no, neither pitcher needed to go 10 innings, but you just left that ballpark mumbling to yourself, “wow – what a treat”. The movement – the intimidation – the talent. It was just something so special, something that stood out from all the hundreds upon hundreds of games I’ve been to. For those lucky enough to witness the Matt Cain/Cliff Lee duel last night, consider yourself part of an instant classic that you’ll recall ten years down the road as if it just happened.
As far as regular season games go, last night was one for the ages. Some people prefer offense, but it’s hard to overlook an outright duel like we saw last night. To see two talented players not only pitch so well, but pitch so effectively. Neither was what you’d considering over-powering, neither benefiting from an absurd strike zone – it was simply grit versus grit, and for any baseball purist – it was beauty.
So how special was last night? I’ll let ESPN handle that:
How rare is it for one starter in a game to rip off 10 shutout innings while the other throws nine? It’s only the second game like that in this millennium. Here’s the other:
Sept. 6, 2003 (Tigers-Blue Jays): Roy Halladay vs. Nate Cornejo. Halladay went 10. Cornejo went nine. The Blue Jays won 1-0 in 10. Halladay got a 10-inning shutout out of it.
There’s just something special about Major League baseball (or any level of baseball, really). You can watch every game – season after season, year after year, and still be treated to a spectacle like last evening.