Some of you reading this were at Saturday night’s game between the Indians and Angels, and it sickens me. Not because it means you might have eaten a hot dog with Froot Loops or a pulled pork sandwich with Flamin’ Hots, but because it means you saw my dream game and I didn’t. I’m not a petty man, but I hope all of your dreams now only come true for me. Will I appreciate them as much as you would have? I will not, but hey, that’s life, and it’s here to never stop kicking you in your bathing suit area.
With my tantrum out of the way, I can now get down to the business at hand, which is talking about Corey Kluber pitching only the ninth Maddux by an Indians player since pitch counts began to be tracked in 1988. Most LGT readers are very familiar with the Maddux, because I crammed it down everyone’s throats during my years as managing editor here, but for those of you fortunate enough to have missed out on my time at the helm, the Maddux is a complete game shutout of no more than 99 pitches. If you’re the sort of person who likes to learn more about a topic, click here. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like to learn more about a topic, stop reading right now, otherwise you may encounter new information and mess up your entire week.
As I said, Kluber’s latest gem is just the ninth official Maddux in franchise history. (Sorry Mel Harder, but no one thought to count pitches during any of the six shutouts you pitched without walking anyone during the Great Depression, so they count for nothing here. If I could go back to the Great Depression and change things for you, I would.) If you’re wondering how impressive a total nine Madduxes for one team is: not very.
Madduxes by an Indians pitcher
Greg Swindell (May 2, 1988)
The first Indians Maddux is also only the second Maddux of the pitch-count era, as it took place just four weeks into the first season we have those records for. Swindell was at home facing what were then known as the California Angels, whose lineup that evening included Wally Joyner, Chili Davis, and Bob Boone. Swindell threw just 94 pitches in a 3-0 victory, with four strikeouts, two hits, and two walks.
Charles Nagy (June 12, 1992)
This one gets bonus points for happening against the Yankees, even if it was during that glorious stretch when George Steinbrenner’s incompetence was allowed to run the show and the team was decidedly mediocre. The lineup included such luminaries as Mike Gallego, Roberto Kelly, and Andy Stankiewicz. Nagy needed just 90 pitches to complete the 3-0 win, working around five singles with the help of five strikeouts and three double plays.
Bartolo Colon (June 8, 1998)
The first Maddux in Jacobs Field history was this 8-0 win over the Pirates. It’s also the most lopsided of the nine Tribe Madduxes. Colon threw 96 pitches and totaled three strikeouts, four hits, and one walk. This Maddux took place the very day the Maddux was created, but had nothing to do with that creation. On June 7, Greg Maddux shut the Orioles out on just 99 pitches. The morning of June 8, I noticed that oddity in the newspaper while eating breakfast, thought it was cool, and began looking for other such performances. Two months later Greg again pitched a shutout on fewer than 100 pitches, at which point I began to formally think of such performances as Madduxes. Colon’s own Maddux on the very day I noticed Greg’s, I completely missed, and didn’t know about for another ten years, when I first subscribed to Baseball Reference’s Play Index in 2008, following a 79-pitch Maddux by Aaron Cook. For the ten years between the Maddux’s creation and the Play Index allowing me to easily find them all, the Maddux lived in a notebook where I wrote down the ones I found in box scores.
Bartolo Colon (March 31, 2002)
This one I not only knew about, it was the first one I watched as it happened, as it took place the season-opening Sunday Night Baseball. It was the first Maddux to happen on Opening Day (There are now two.), and may always be the only Maddux to happen in March. This was the first Maddux by an Indians pitcher on the road. The Tribe was in Anaheim to play the appropriately named Anaheim Angels. Colon threw 98 pitches in the 6-0 victory, and had five strikeouts while allowing five hits and two walks. Those seven baserunners are the most among any of these nine games.
Paul Byrd (August 6, 2007)
This one was a 4-0 win over the Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau Twins at the Metrodome. Byrd used all 99 pitches the Maddux allows for, even though he managed only one strikeout all game. He walked one and allowed four hits. Eight of the Tribe’s nine Madduxes were pitched by guys who rate among the team’s ten best pitchers of the last 30 years, and then there’s this one by Byrd, who spent 2.5 very average seasons with the team. May his name always ring out.
Cliff Lee (June 14, 2009)
This Sunday Night Baseball game at Progressive Field took only an hour and 58 minutes to finish. Lee was in a hurry because he hoped to make the late show of that summer’s remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. He obviously hadn’t read the book, but had seen the original film version starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, and was curious to see it updated. He needed just 93 pitches to finish of the Cardinals, picking up six strikeouts while allowing three hits and walking two.
Corey Kluber (July 30, 2014)
Kluber’s first Maddux was a 2-0 win at home against the Mariners. Despite striking out eight, he needed only 85 pitches, fewest among these nine games, and one of only 20 Madduxes across MLB to happen on so few. He didn’t walk anyone, and allowed only three hits, with two of those runners erased by double plays.
Carlos Carrasco (September 17, 2014)
The Indians had never had two Madduxes in the same season before, but seven weeks after Kluber pitched one, Carrasco joined him with this 2-0 win over the Astros in Houston. Carrasco threw 98 pitches, allowing only two hits and a walk. Most notably, he recorded 12 strikeouts, tying the record for most Ks in a Maddux, a record he shares with Lee, who whiffed a dozen in a Maddux he pitched while playing for the Phillies. As you probably recall, Lee ended up with the Phillies at the deadline in 2009, in a trade that landed the Indians… Carlos Carrasco.
Corey Kluber (August 4, 2018)
The 3-0 win at home came against the now Los Angeles Angels. It’s great that a third of the Tribe’s Madduxes have come against the same franchise (and a non-divisional one at that), but that said franchise has not been playing under the same name for any of the three games. Kluber threw 98 pitches, collecting seven strikeouts while walking one and allowing three hits. He also became the first Indians pitcher to hit a batter during a Maddux.
The complete game shutout is a creature being dragged to the brink of extinction. For the first couple decades after expansion began, there were routinely more than 200 of them a season, but there have been only 17 so far this season, putting 2018 on pace for just 25, which would be a record for the fewest ever, breaking a mark set in 2017, which broke a mark set in 2016. As complete game shutouts decline, they drag the Maddux with them, and Kluber’s on Saturday was only the second all season, joining James Paxton’s no-hit Maddux from May. With this starting rotation, it wouldn’t shock if the Indians had another Maddux this season, but with this baseball-wide trend, it also wouldn’t surprise if we have to wait years to see it again.