Baseballistic
All Things Baseball

A Classic Battle of the Aces

ESPN could not have picked a better game for Sunday Night Baseball this week, when the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off.  The game between the division-leading Dodgers and the bottom-feeding Giants was showcased by the starting pitchers — Jason Schmidt and Greg Maddux. 

Before the game even started, it was almost certain to be a terrific showdown.  It would be the first time that a 300-game winner (Greg Maddux) faced a 700 HR hitter (Barry Bonds).  It would be a matchup of two of the MLB’s top starting pitchers.  And last, but not least, it would be a contest between two teams that hate each other and would do anything to beat their rival. 

Greg Maddux had a shaky start to the game, allowing two Giants to reach base in the first inning.  He did not allow a run in the inning however, and Maddux would not come close to allowing the Giants to score later.  His next seven innings of work were nothing short of spectacular.  Maddux was PERFECT from the second inning through the seventh inning, striking out 4 batters, and throwing just 68 pitches total. 

His opponent, Giants’ ace Jason Schmidt, was just as spectacular.  Schmidt pitched 8 innings allowing just 5 hits and a walk with no runs, while K’ing 9.  He was never really close to allowing a run, but succumbed to a high pitch count after eight.  Had he not been taken out, the goose-eggs might have continued to show up on the scoreboard through the night. 

The pitching matchup could not have been described better by Giants’ commentator Mike Krukow.  During the game, he said that “Maddux and Schmidt are feeding off each other” and that “they push each other to put up one more goose-egg on the scoreboard every inning”.  Through eight frames the score held 0-0, and the game was dominated by pitching. 

In the 9th inning, the Giants were held scoreless by LA reliever (and former Giant) Brett Tomko, and Giants’ pitcher Mike Stanton returned the favor to Dodgers’ hitters in the bottom of the 9th, to send the game to extra innings.  Takashi Saito silenced the Giants in the 10th, but Vinnie Chulk could not do the same to the Dodgers.  He allowed a walk-off homerun to the first batter he faced, Dodgers’ catcher Russell Martin, and LA prevailed with a 1-0 victory. 

And the end to the game was fitting, because it would’ve been unfair for either Schmidt or Maddux to get pinned with a loss.  Both pitched one of their best games, holding opposing hitters to just about nothing.  The game was all that it was hyped up to be, and the 55,699 in attendance at Dodger Stadium were not disappointed.  Neither team deserved to lose this game, but ties don’t happen in baseball, so a modest 1-0 final was very much appropriate for this Battle of the Aces. 

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