What Shelby Miller did Friday night was incredible. Absolute dominance was displayed. Off the top of my head, it stands out as one of the most impressive pitching performances of my lifetime that wasn’t a perfect game. After giving up a single to open the game, Miller had, in the words of ESPN’s Keith Law, a ‘hidden perfect game.’ 27 up and 27 down. Just about perfection.
After that leadoff hit, en route to setting 27 down in a row, Miller struck out 13. His game score was 98. Baseball Reference has a nice tutorial on game score here.
Bill James created the Game Score for pitchers to be able to measure how good a pitcher’s start is. If you’re not familiar with what 98 means relative to other scores, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan summed it up nicely in a tweet:
RT @JeffPassan: Since 1916, only 18 times has a pitcher recorded a better nine-inning game score than Shelby Miller’s 98 tonight.
The highest nine inning game score ever recorded is by Kerry Wood, in his 20 strikeout, one-hit effort against the Houston Astros in 1998. I still remember that game. I will for a very long time. And I feel like I’ll remember tonight for a long time.
I’ve praised John Mozeliak and the Cardinals front office from the start of the season for what they did over the offseason to put the starting rotation in place. It wasn’t necessarily a popular move to let Kyle Lohse walk, and that is understandable. It wasn’t a bet on what Lohse would do this year. He has been (and probably will continue to be) a good, front of the rotation pitcher.
But letting Lohse walk not only freed up money that went to Adam Wainwright, but it allowed Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. The front office knew what they had, and Shelby Miller has been incredible so far.
There is plenty more to be written in this story, and plenty of other factors that have contributed to the early success of Miller, and the entire staff. But like I said, I have a feeling I’ll remember this game for a long time. And that alone is pretty special.