Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after the Phillies turned a double play in the ninth inning of their game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Cliff Lee made what is arguably the best start by any pitcher so far in 2012. Not only did he not get a decision, his team lost.
Actually, Lee probably didn't get a T-shirt at all, but if he had brought one back for a family member, he could have had that phrase printed on it.
Throwing 10 or more innings in a game used to be fairly common before the advent of seven- and eight-man bullpens. From 1980-1989, it was done 248 times -- about 25 times a season. As bullpens got more specialized and pitch counts began to hit the consciousness of managers, it happened just 37 times from 1990-1999 -- a little less than four times a year.
And then it became rare. Between 2000 and 2009, it was done by just three pitchers (Roy Halladay, Mark Mulder and Aaron Harang) in four games (Halladay did it twice), and until Wednesday night, no one had done it since July 23, 2007 (Harang).
Wednesday night, Lee became the first pitcher since Todd Stottlemyre on June 16, 1995 to throw 10 innings in a game his team lost.
The game absolutely flew through the first eight innings. The teams played six innings in an hour and 10 minutes and eight in 1:30. There were nine combined baserunners through nine innings -- Lee gave up five hits through nine, his opponent, the Giants' Matt Cain, issued one walk and two hits, and one Giant reached on a Laynce Nix error. Of the seven hits Lee gave up overall, six were singles.
In the 11th inning with the game still scoreless, the Phillies got the potential lead run to third base with one out; Carlos Ruiz doubled and was sacrificed to third by Freddy Galvis. Lee was due up; even though he had thrown just 102 pitches (averaging just over 10 per inning), Charlie Manuel figured one run would win the game and sent Jim Thome up to pinch-hit.
Thome struck out and the Phillies failed to score; Antonio Bastardo relieved Lee and in the span of four batters, lost the game 1-0, though to be fair, an error by Ty Wigginton helped lead to the loss.
It was the seventh 1-0 game played in a season that's just two weeks old. That would put baseball on pace for about 90 such games in 2012. There were just 52 of them in 2011. Something tells me this isn't the last time in 2012 that a pitcher will throw more than nine innings in a game; we could be having another 1968 blooming.