Tonight’s outing by Patrick Corbin was truly amazing, and there’s a case to be made that it’s the best game thrown by a Diamondbacks’ pitcher since Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2004. Corbin faced only two batters over the minimum, with only a walk to Joe Panik in the fourth inning, and Brandon Belt’s checked-swing infield squibber with two outs in the eighth spoiling his perfect game. By Bill James’s Game Score, which measures a start by taking into account hits, walks, runs both earned and unearned and strikeouts, it rated a 92. That is, indeed, the best game for Arizona in almost fourteen years, preceded by the Big Unit’s immaculate outing against Atlanta.
It does rank only tied for 9th all-time for us; Johnson and Curt Schilling occupy all other spots in the top ten, for outings between 2001 and 2004. That gives you some idea of just how good those two were in that era. The top score, 100, is shared by Randy’s perfect game and, perhaps a forgotten gem: Curt’s one-hit game against the Brewers in April 2002. While largely forgotten, with a hit and two walks, it was dominant, Schilling fanning 17 of the 29 batters faced, a 59% K-rate for the day. That’s a ratio matched only once in an MLB shutout since, when Max Scherzer struck out 17 of 28 batters faced in October 2015. Below are details of the ten best outings by Game Score for Arizona.
Best pitched games in D-backs history
|1||Randy Johnson||2004-05-18||ATL||W 2-0||9||0||0||0||0||13||117||87||100|
|Curt Schilling||2002-04-07||MIL||W 2-0||9||1||0||0||2||17||127||85||100|
|3||Randy Johnson||2002-04-21||COL||W 7-1||9||2||1||0||1||17||118||82||97|
|Randy Johnson||2001-05-08||CIN||W 4-3||9||3||1||1||0||20||124||92||97|
|5||Randy Johnson||2003-09-14||COL||W 5-0||9||1||0||0||1||12||123||90||96|
|6||Curt Schilling||2003-05-14||PHI||W 2-0||9||2||0||0||1||14||106||75||96|
|Randy Johnson||2002-09-14||MIL||W 5-0||9||3||0||0||2||17||126||86||96|
|8||Curt Schilling||2001-04-10||LAD||W 2-0||9||2||0||0||0||10||93||73||93|
|9||Randy Johnson||2002-08-05||NYM||W 2-0||9||2||0||0||2||11||113||71||92|
|Patrick Corbin||2018-04-17||SDG||W 1-0||9||1||0||0||1||8||100||68||92|
Corbin’s outing displaces from the top ten the best game pitched for us since the RJ perfect game. That was thrown by Ian Kennedy against the Pirates in September 2011, which rated a 91. It’s interesting for a couple of reasons, firstly, that Kennedy didn’t throw a complete game. He worked eight one-hit innings, allowing a walk and fanning 12, but needed 113 pitches, and turned the ball over to J.J. Putz who worked around a hit to record his 42nd save. It was also a 1-0 win, though was perhaps less stressful than tonight’s outing, since the D-backs took the lead for Kennedy in the sixth, on a Justin Upton homer.
Tonight was the sixth time an Arizona starter tossed a complete game in a 1-0 win, the last having been by Brandon McCarthy against the Marlins in May 2013. It was remarkable, because in the top of the first, Gerardo Parra hit the first pitch of the game for a home-run, and that was the end of the scoring. The 1-0 CG before that was Edwin Jackson’s infamous 149-pitch, eight walk no-hitter; the others were hit by Brandon Webb, Javier Vazquez, Randy Johnson and Brian Anderson. The only contest that remained scoreless as late as tonight’s game was the Vazquez one against the Tigers in May 2005, which like this evening was 0-0 into the eighth, before a Craig Counsell single scored Royce Clayton.
Unsurprisingly, the list of top games all-time by Win Probability for Arizona pitchers is dominated by these same outings. We’re still awaiting for the Baseball-Reference.com version of WP to compare, but Fangraphs has Corbin’s performance tonight as worth +76.3%. If that is indeed sustained, it will slot in at #7 all-time for Arizona, behind the six 1-0 wins mentioned above. I guess scoring late is not as “good” for accumulating WP, as having to defend a one-run lead, inning after inning!