Last year, one of the best decisions I made was picking up tickets with some friends to see Yovani Gallardo take on Johan Santana. It turned out to be every bit the pitching duel I thought it would, with Gallardo pitching a complete game shutout and Santana throwing eight scoreless innings. The Brewers scored their only runs after Santana was pulled for bullpen help, thanks to a Corey Hart walk-off blast with two outs in the ninth. An instant classic.
Although most didn’t think of Shaun Marcum as a real number one starter before the season, he has certainly established himself as a top-tier talent coming into today’s matchup against the Giants. Marcum (6-1) has a shiny 2.37 ERA and a little over 8.5 K/9. He’s walking only 2 per 9, and stranding nearly 80% of baserunners. And he’s not allowing a whole heck of a lot of guys to reach base to begin with (1.021 WHIP).
Marcum’s competition tonight? Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who’s 4-4 but sporting an exceptional 2.06 ERA. Lincecum already has 75 strikeouts, ringing up nearly 10 batters per nine innings. He’s walking about one more batter per nine than Marcum, but his WHIP is similar (1.071). That 4-4 start is more a condemnation of the Giants’ offense than anything else (all of his losses have been by three runs or less). Oh, yeah, and Lincecum is coming off a complete game, three-hit shutout.
So if you like great pitching matchups, the one tonight has all the makings of one for the ages. I know where I’m going to be at 7:10.