That was the word used by Washington Post media critic and CNN talk show host Howard Kurtz, who tweeted while watching the game that he was sitting in “stunned silence.”
Seriously, certain segments of the New York media must really be arrogant if “stunned” is the preferred expression to describe the Yankees’ loss to the defending world champions pitched by the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.
Stunned? No way.
Apropos of nothing I was hoping instead of making his basket catch on Johnny Damon's little pop up in the sixth, that he would have pulled off his cap and caught the ball that way.
But that is not to take anything away from Cliff Lee’s performance, which should go down not only as an all-timer in Phillies lore, but also as one of the great Game 1 iutings in World Series history. Truly, the list of superlatives from the game is pretty impressive. Actually, my favorite of the bunch was that Cliff Lee was the first pitcher to strike out 10 hitters without a walk in Game 1 of the World Series since Deacon Phillippe of the Pirates beat Cy Young (the man himself) in the very first World Series game ever played.
In other words, Lee did something in Game 1 that was done just once and it was 105 years ago.
There’s more, too:
• After his six-hit complete game in which he allowed one unearned run with 10 Ks and no walks, Lee’s postseason ledger stands at 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA (two earned runs in 33 1/3 innings) in four starts this postseason. He has the seventh-best ERA of any pitcher in a single postseason in baseball history with more than 20 innings pitched. Waite Hoyt (1921), Carl Hubbell (1933), Christy Mathewson (1905) and Kenny Rogers (2006) had 0.00 ERAs. Sandy Koufax had a 0.38 ERA in 1965 and Harry Brecheen had a 0.45 ERA in 1946.
• Of all the pitchers in baseball history in the postseason, Lee has the best ERA ever for pitchers with more than 30 innings.
• Lee also pitched the first complete game in the World Series since Josh Beckett threw one against the Yankees in the clinching Game 6 of the 2003 World Series.
Now here’s the thing that doesn’t make sense about Lee’s outing… it wasn’t as good as his effort against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS. At least that’s what it says on the Bill James “game score.”
If you page down a bit you’ll find a whole thing I wrote about the “game score” and how Lee’s performance in Game 3 was one of the greatest game’s pitched in the postseason in the last few seasons and the best ever in the playoffs by a Phillies pitcher. Of course the flaw in “game score” is that it is not weighted for the postseason and there isn’t special credence given to Game 1 of the World Series vs. Game 7 or even an elimination game.
For instance, when I think of the best pitched games I’ve ever seen, the top one on the list is Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against the Braves. For 10 innings Morris hung up zero after zero only to be matched by John Smoltz and two relievers.
Apparently 10 shutout innings in a 1-0 seventh game of the World Series the day after the winning team won Game 6 in the 12th inning on Kirby Puckett’s homer is only good enough for an 84.
Lee’s outing in Game 1 scored an 83, while his eight innings against the Dodgers last week in Game 3 was an 86. Not to downplay what Lee did in Game 3, but the performance in Game 1 was better.
Much, much better.