St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller was about as close to perfection as one can get without the threat of ever actually throwing a perfect game.
That possibility no longer existed after the very first batter of the game on Friday against the Colorado Rockies.
Rockies leadoff hitter Eric Young Jr. hit a soft single to right fielder Carlos Beltran to open the game. Young also stole second base but would go no further as Miller bore down and retired the next three hitters to end the Rockies’ threat.
That would be the only nibble the Rockies would get all night from Miller, who proceeded to retire 27 consecutive Rockies hitters following Young’s single.
On his 113th and final pitch of the night, Miller caught Young looking on a fastball for a called third strike, giving him his 13th strikeout and a brilliant one-hit shutout.
It was without question a dominant performance that will be talked about in St. Louis for days and weeks to come.
It’s already getting Twitter attention, obviously.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Miller put himself in rarefied air:
Via @eliassports This is 1st day in modern MLB history in which 2 pitchers threw a 0/1-hitter with 0 walks (Jon Lester/Shelby Miller)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 11, 2013
Yahoo! Sports baseball expert Jeff Passan added another historic tidbit:
Since 1916, only 18 times has a pitcher recorded a better nine-inning game score than Shelby Miller's 98 tonight.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 11, 2013
For those wondering what score Passan is referring to, that can found at Baseball-Reference.
Jon Presser talked about how far Miller has come since some not-so-pretty numbers last year:
shelby miller is a classic example of a top pitching prospect surviving the PCL. miller had a 4.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP in 27 starts there in 2012— Jon Presser (@metsjetsnets88) May 11, 2013
So how did Miller accomplish the feat, especially considering his opponent?
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was duly impressed:
Miller was simple in his approach, consistently pounding the strike zone with fastballs ranging from 94-97 miles per hour.
Rockies hitters consistently flailed away, and many came away shaking their heads:
Miller's 13K ties rookie record for #cardinals in single game. Last done in 1972. Hit 95 mph with his 113th and final pitch for 13th k.— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) May 11, 2013
In all, Miller threw 84 of 113 pitches for strikes.
I feel really good. It's definitely the best game I've thrown in my life. How it finished was unbelievable. It was a great experience. Yadi (catcher Yadier Molina) was calling a great game and they were making great plays for me. It was a start I'll remember the rest of my life.
With his epic night, Miller is now 5-2 on the season with a 1.58 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and .179 BAA. It’s fair to say he’s living up to his billing.
On this night, he lived up to a lot more.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.