Think of every synonym for “amazing” that you can. Astonishing. Astounding. Remarkable. Wonderful. Incredible. Marvelous. Brilliant.
And there you have a description of Shelby Miller’s performance in the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Oh, wait — there is one more way to describe it: almost perfect. Just one hit allowed, to Rockies lead-off man Eric Young Jr. in the first inning, a broken-bat bloop into right field.
Then it was 27 straight retired, 13 by strikeout. And eight of those were caught looking — including Troy Tulowitzki three times, Carlos Gonzalez twice and, perhaps poetically, Young for the final out of the game.
The entire performance was just a thing of beauty. See the highlights for yourself, or see them again (because they are certainly worth watching over and over), in a summary of about 90 seconds here.
It was Shelby’s first career complete game — as a professional ballplayer, not just as a big leaguer. According to Rick Hummel in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miller said he had worked eight innings only once before, in Class AA.
And, as you can expect, there are many interesting numbers that resulted from the night.
- The game marked the third time in Miller’s eight big-league starts, including the final day of the season last year, that he had blanked an opponent on one hit over at least the first six innings.
- He is 5-2 for the season with an earned-run average of 1.58 and his strikeout total, achieved mostly on fastballs, easily represented a major-league best.
- Pitching with a couple of extra days of rest, Miller often threw in the mid-90s.
- His final pitch, No. 113 and his 84th strike, was at 95 miles an hour, as he tied the Cardinals’ single-game record for strikeouts by a rookie.
- Miller had a Game Score of 97, the second-highest by a Cardinals pitcher that went 9 innings pitched or fewer in the live ball era (since 1920).
- From Elias: Miller is the first Cardinals pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to throw a shutout with 1 hit or fewer and no walks and at least 13 strikeouts.
- From Elias: Miller threw a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts and no walks and he’s just 22 years old. He and Kerry Wood (in his 20-K game against the Astros) are the only pitchers in MLB history to do that at 22 or younger.
- Yesterday was the first day in modern baseball history (since 1900) in which two pitchers threw shutouts allowing one hit or fewer while walking 0 batters on the same day — Jon Lester of the Red Sox was the other.
Miller deflected a lot of the credit for his performance to catcher Yadier Molina.
“He was making great calls for me,” Miller said. “Couldn’t have done it without him.”
Miller never shook off Molina all night.
Molina also added two hits, including a third-inning single that extended his hitting streak to a team-high 10-games.
Oh, yes, offense!
The Cardinals did score three runs, after all. Pete Kozma drove in Jon Jay in the third, Carlos Beltran hit a homer in the third and Jay hit a sacrifice fly that scored Matt Holliday in the fifth.
Plus we’re probably not going to be able to rely on much from Shelby at the plate — he struck out four times last night and, for his career, has struck out 12 times in 14 at-bats.
As long as he keeps pitching like he has, no one should mind.
There’s not much time to savor Shelby’s Friday night magnificence — the Rockies and Cards are back at it this afternoon with Adam Wainwright and Jhoulys Chacin starting. Game time is 1:15 p.m.
Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.