MLB Notebook: Blanton, Morrow share spotlight
On May 18, 2004, at Wrigley Field, Giants hurler Jason Schmidt threw 144 pitches in a one-hit, complete-game shutout. Schmidt faced only three over the minimum in this start, giving up a single and a walk, while a third runner reached base after striking out on a wild pitch.
That K was one of 13 for the San Francisco right-hander, whose combination of stinginess and dominance resulted in a game score (an equation used to determine a pitcher's dominance) of 97 -- the highest for a Giants pitcher since a Juan Marichal start in 1969 had produced a score of 104. It was the kind of start that typically would be fondly recalled as the shining star of a day's worth of games.
The only problem for Schmidt was that he wasn't perfect, and on that same day, Randy Johnson was. At the age of 40 years and 251 days, the Arizona southpaw, while turning in the 17th perfect game in baseball history, also struck out 13 (the second most in a perfect game) and bested Schmidt's game score by three, turning in a tidy 100.
That day remains one of only three in the live-ball era in which pitchers in two different games each produced a game score of 97 or better. While the Phillies' Joe Blanton and the Blue Jays' Brandon Morrow were not quite at the level of Schmidt and Johnson, their respective three-hit shutouts on Thursday did make for a fairly rare day and night of baseball.
Blanton and Morrow
Blanton threw a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts and no walks in a 4-0 win over the Braves, and Morrow tossed a three-hit shutout of his own, with eight K's and no free passes in a 5-0 win over the Angels.
With the performances by Blanton and Morrow, Thursday represented just the fourth time in the past 20 seasons in which two pitchers threw a shutout on three hits or fewer with no walks on the same day. The others:
July 7, 2006: John Lackey and CC Sabathia
April 12, 2009: Aaron Harang and Kyle Lohse
June 15, 2011: Josh Beckett and Livan Hernandez
Blanton's three-hitter gave the right-hander his first shutout since June 2, 2007. With six strikeouts and no walks, Blanton's start produced a game score of 87, which tied his career best, set in that shutout five years ago.
Blanton's game score of 87 represented the highest generated by any Phillies starter this season, and the second highest for any of Philadelphia's starters since the beginning of 2011. Only Cliff Lee, with a 92 on April 14, 2011, has posted a score that surpassed Blanton's.
Since the start of last season, Phillies starters have produced 16 game scores of at least 80. That total is the most in the Majors, followed by 15 from the Rays and 14 from the Angels. Individually, Lee has the most such starts (nine), and is followed by the Rays' James Shields (eight) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (seven).
Morrow's three-hitter was the second shutout of his career, following a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts on Aug. 8, 2010. With eight strikeouts and no walks Thursday, Morrow's line produced a game score of 89 -- the highest for any Blue Jays starter since his one-hit shutout produced a score of 100. Before Morrow, the most recent Blue Jays pitcher to produce a game score of least 89 was Roy Halladay (with a 91) on Sept. 4, 2009.
As part of a 4-for-5 night, Derek Jeter collected his 500th career double.
Jeter is the 55th player in history to reach the milestone, and one of four players with at least two-thirds of their career games at shortstop to have at least 500. The other three are Honus Wagner (643), Cal Ripken, Jr. (603) and Joe Cronin (515).
Overall, Jeter's four hits brought his career total to 3,132, which ranks seventh all-time among players through their age-38 season. The top six: Ty Cobb (3,821), Hank Aaron (3,391), Pete Rose (3,372), Tris Speaker (3,292), Stan Musial (3,203) and Robin Yount (3,142).
Since the start of the 2011 season, Jeter has eight games with four or more hits -- the most in the Majors.
The Cubs' Ryan Dempster, 35, allowed three hits in eight scoreless innings and outpitched the Reds' Homer Bailey, 26, who allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings, in the first matchup of starters who were each celebrating a birthday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Dempster is the second pitcher this season to finish a start on his birthday with at least eight shutout innings. On April 8, Jeremy Hellickson honored his 25th birthday with a start in which he threw 8 2/3 scoreless innings.
The most recent pitcher to throw a shutout on his birthday was Doug Drabek, on July 25, 1995. The most recent Cubs pitcher to throw a shutout on his birthday was Dick Drott, on July 1, 1957.
Ross Detwiler (6 1/3 innings, one run) and three Nationals relievers combined for a three-hitter, and Washington defeated Ian Kennedy and the D-backs, 2-1.
Detwiler, who now has a 1.59 ERA through his first five starts of the season, is part of a pitching staff that has allowed two runs or fewer in 15 of the team's first 25 games. In the live-ball era, the 2012 Nationals are the 22nd team to have 15 or more games of this kind.
Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard fanned 11 in five innings in a 6-3 win over the Cardinals to improve to 2-4.
Bedard, who owns a 2.65 ERA, now has 14 career double-digit strikeout games. He was the first pitcher since Matt Moore on Sept. 22, 2011, to finish a start with at least 10 strikeouts in no more than five innings.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.