Pitching to contact: Aaron Cook in uncharted waters
Monday in Boston, Aaron Cook tossed 7 innings of 1-run ball, with neither walk nor whiff. It was his 2nd start this year of 5+ IP with zeroes in both those columns. He’s just the 5th pitcher since 2000 with 2 such starts in a season; the high is 3 by Paul Byrd in 2008.
In 5 starts and 29.2 IP for the BoSox, Cook has faced 119 batters and totaled 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Both Ks came in a span of 6 batters during his 3rd outing, a 2-hit, 81-pitch shutout.
Among all pitchers who faced at least 100 batters, Cook’s ratio of 1 walk per 59.5 batters faced has been bested 13 times since 1901, and currently by Mets rookie Jeremy Hefner. But none of them can match Cook’s ratio of BF/SO, also 59.5. The closest was Ed Kusel of the 1909 Browns, who had 1 walk and 2 SO out of 113 batters.
Turning the test around, there are 10 seasons with 100+ BF and a lower SO rate than Cook’s, including two who had no strikeouts. But none of their walk rates was even half as low as Cook’s. The closest was Marv Gudat of the 1925 Reds, 4 walks and no SO in 111 batters.
Among qualified seasons, the lowest SO rate was 1 per 40.9 batters by Ernie Wingard of the 1924 Browns; he walked 1 per 11.1 batters. The lowest BB rate was 1 per 83.2 batters by Carlos Silva of the 2005 Twins; he fanned 1 per 10.5 batters. The lowest combination probably was by Slim Sallee of the World Champion 1919 Reds, with 20 walks and 24 SO in 227.2 IP and 893 batters — 44.7 batters per walk and 37.2 per strikeout.
P.S. Cook got 15 of his 21 outs on the ground Monday — 3 by Adam Dunn! (just his 3rd game this year with neither SO nor BB) — with 5 flyouts and 1 lineout. He didn’t get the win in Boston’s 5-1 triumph over Kevin Youkilis (3 hits, 2 doubles) and the other Sox (2 singles), due in part to an unearned run in the opening frame on an error by Adrian Gonzalez. The first baseman atoned twice over, with the tying RBI in that inning, and a tiebreaking 3-run HR in the 8th, his first HR since June 24 and 7th this year, and his first 4-RBI game of the season. Pedro Ciriaco had 3 hits, a level he’s reached in 4 of his 7 games played.
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