For those of you who weren't aware, Minnesota's Carlos Silva threw a 74-pitch complete game against the Brewers last night. While Silva's effort was quite a few over the record of fewest pitches in a complete game (held by Charley Barrett of the 1944 Boston Braves), Elias does say that Silva threw the fewest pitches in any complete game over the last five years.
All of this kind of rang some unpleasant bells, and as the Astros are prone to help a pitcher cruise along in the fashion that Milwaukee presumably helped Silva, I went over to ESPN, to review the pitch by pitch, and see what I could see.
I was a little surprised at what I found.
When asked about the game, Silva said, "There was no secret. I had to throw strikes, get ahead of the hitters." And he did, sorta.
For example, Silva threw six pitches (all strikes) in the first, and three pitches (strikes as you can figure) in the sixth. Certainly, Silva was around the plate. He neither walked a batter nor did he go to a three-ball count. And his pitches must have looked good as they were coming in, too: nine batters did what they did on the first pitch, and eight of those nine batters were out.
Also, of those Brewers selective enough to take a pitch, 14 saw a first-pitch strike, and seven saw a first pitch ball. Pretty good: 67% of the time, he's taking charge.
But at the same time, Silva only had four 0 - 2 counts, once to Junior Spivey in the third, and to three others in the eighth, when Carlos had two of his three strikeouts. So: if he had 14 0 - 1 counts but only 4 0 - 2 counts, that means that ten times he came back with a ball after throwing his first pitch strike. So he was stting at 1 - 1, more often than not. And it goes the other way, too. Silva as you may have guessed only went to 2 - 0 three times, which means what? that four times after throwing a first pitch ball he threw a strike, and three times he threw another ball.
From which it then follows that 14 of the batters who took a pitch were at 1- 1 at some point. And of course, 8 more were already out by the second pitch. And he only faced 30.
Silva obviously got 27 outs. Eight of them were, as I've said. on the first pitch. Eight of the outs came on a pitch where Silva was ahead in the count, and eleven of the outs came on a pitch where Silva was even or behind in the count! Though to be fair, only one of the five hits came when he was ahead in the count, and four--including the homer he gave up-- were when he was behind.
No-one would argue that Silva wasn't very good last night, but I think I MIGHT argue that the reason for him being so good wasn't necessarily because he was, as he said, "ahead of the hitters." I didn't see the game, but I would think that he was around the plate, even with his pitches outside the zone, and that THAT is the way to pitch a 74-pitch complete game, regardless of whether or not you're ahead or behind in the count to any one batter or to any series of batters.
And of course it sure helps to have a great infield behind you, as Silva most assuredly does.