From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Cliff Lee could appreciate a career performance even if he walked away from AT&T Park with no win to show for it.Typically, 10 scoreless innings should be more than enough for a victory.Lee and Giants ace Matt Cain combined to throw 19 scoreless innings in San Francisco's 1-0, 11-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night, bringing back memories of those great old righty-lefty showdowns of Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax.Melky Cabrera hit an RBI single in the 11th inning, ending a thrilling pitchers' duel that seemed as if it might go on all night.Strange that Cain and Lee have only a no-decision to show for their remarkable work."Both guys were absolutely tremendous," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.Cabrera came through against Antonio Bastardo (0-1), who allowed Brandon Belt's one-out single up the middle. Belt then advanced when third baseman Ty Wigginton couldn't control Angel Pagan's grounder.The sellout crowd of 41,860 got treated to a game that lasted just 2 hours, 27 minutes. And it left Lee still searching for his first win of the season after three starts."It was a classic pitcher's duel. It's the first time I ever threw 10 innings. It was neat," Lee said. "I'd rather give up two runs and get the win though. Any time you lose it's disappointing. I had a good changeup and I was throwing my curveballs for strikes. I don't usually do both in the same game. When things are going well I try to work fast. I try to keep a good pace. Everybody likes that. I was told I was done after nine, but I said I could easily pitch another inning. I tried it again after 10 but it didn't happen."The Giants won a third straight series after being swept in three one-run losses to open the year at defending division champion Arizona, while the Phillies dropped their third series in four.Lee's 10 innings were a career high and he became the first Phillies starter to go beyond nine innings since Terry Mulholland on May 8, 1993, against St. Louis. Lee allowed seven hits, struck out seven, didn't walk a batter and threw 81 of his 102 pitches for strikes.And Lee didn't throw his 100th pitch until strike one to Nate Schierholtz with two outs in the 10th."I haven't seen two pitchers pitch that well. What a matchup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Terrific game by two guys that hooked horns and neither one was giving in."This one marked the second great matchup of aces in three games after Roy Halladay outpitched Tim Lincecum in Philadelphia's 5-2 win Monday night.Both pitchers worked quickly, each allowing only two base runners to reach second in their combined 19 innings."Just nonstop back and forth," Cain said. "Both of us tried to throw a lot of strikes and get guys out. We were both pounding the strike zone. We were through nine before two hours. It's not very often. That's pretty crazy."Carlos Ruiz led off the top of the 11th with a double against Sergio Romo for the Phillies' first extra-base hit of the game and just the second all game on a night nine innings were -- remarkably -- in the books after just 1:50.Ruiz moved to third on a sacrifice by Freddy Galvis, then pinch-hitter Jim Thome batted for Lee and struck out swinging against Javier Lopez.John Mayberry Jr. entered to pinch-hit and Bochy brought in winner Clay Hensley (1-0) as well as Belt to play first in a double-switch. Mayberry grounded out to end the inning."The way he was throwing you wanted to do anything you could to get him the W.' He deserved it," Wigginton said of Lee.Pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez reached on Laynce Nix's fielding error in the bottom of the ninth, but Lee induced the third of four double plays he got against the Giants.Cain dazzled for the second straight start, tossing nine scoreless innings in back-to-back outings for the first time in his career.Coming off a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Pirates in last Friday's home opener in which the only baserunner he allowed was a single to pitcher James McDonald, Cain was nearly as good this time out."Awesome," Lopez said. "That was great. Two starters like that, I haven't seen that in a long time."Manuel mixed things up again, running out his 10th different lineup in the initial 12 games -- but Cain held everybody in check.Cain, who signed a new 127.5 million, six-year contract April 2, issued a one-out walk to Ruiz in the fifth before the right-hander retired the final 13 batters he faced in order before giving way to new closer Santiago Casilla. Cain gave up two hits, struck out four and walked one.Cain went three up, three down in the first on 15 pitches and was through four on 41 pitches, allowing only Galvis' one-out single in the third."That's as good as I've seen. They both threw strikes, pounded the zone and got into a rhythm," Thome said.Notes: Aaron Harang was the last pitcher to go 10 innings, July 23, 2007, with the Reds. Halladay also did it in April that year. ... Cain came in 1-4 with a 4.17 ERA in his previous seven starts vs. Philly. ... The Phillies, who play a four-game series in San Diego starting Thursday, went 23-9 against the NL West last year. ... The Phillies had been 4-2 in their previous six games at AT&T Park, outscoring the Giants 22-12 during that stretch. Philadelphia won three of four here last season for just their fourth series victory in the waterfront ballpark since it opened in 2000.
It might end up an ugly week for the White Sox in Houston. But try to find some beauty in what this Astros team looks like. Because it's what the White Sox hope to look like, eventually.
While White Sox fans were likely staring with a frown at Brad Peacock mowing down their team's lineup and at a couple home runs absolutely blasted out of Minute Maid Park in the first of this four-game series Monday night, know that the inverse of that feeling is what the White Sox front office is hoping to deliver in the coming seasons.
The Astros, along with the Cubs on the North Side of Chicago, are the template for what the White Sox are trying to do with their ongoing rebuilding process. Houston experienced some hideous seasons on the way to becoming a perennial contender and a World Series champion in 2017, losing a combined 416 games in four seasons from 2011 to 2014. In 2015, the Astros made their first postseason appearance in a decade. Two years later, they were the world champs, and they remain an annual title contender and are currently the best team in baseball two years after that.
The first part of that should sound familiar, as the White Sox have lost a combined 195 games in the two seasons since this rebuild officially began. Things are better now than they were during last year's 100-loss campaign, but it's expected to be another season of more losses than wins and another season without a playoff berth on the South Side, which would be the franchise's 11th straight to end without a trip to the postseason.
The second half of the Astros rags-to-riches story is yet to come for the White Sox, who are still waiting for young players to develop at both the major league and minor league levels, still waiting for the entire core to assemble in the big leagues. That includes, right now, waiting for certain players to recover from serious injuries. That includes watching growing pains up and down the organization. It's not unexpected for such things to happen in the middle of a rebuild. But when mired in the losing years, they become constant sources of frustration for fans.
Just like no one in Houston looks back fondly on the 100-loss seasons of 2011, 2012 and 2013, it's unlikely South Side baseball fans will look back fondly on these loss-heavy campaigns. But it's part of the process, as maddening as that might be to keep hearing.
Fortunately, there are examples of what the end of the tunnel looks like, and the White Sox are up against one of those examples this week. The Astros are dominating the competition so far this season, their young core of sluggers and a few overpowering starting pitchers fueling the best team in baseball. George Springer and Jose Altuve might have been out of the lineup Monday night, but Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman were still on display. And none of those guys were the ones to blast home runs halfway to Oklahoma off the White Sox on Rick Renteria's otherwise successful bullpen day. Peacock was traded a few times before landing in Houston, and Justin Verlander and Geritt Cole were trade acquisitions, as well. All of those guys have made the Astros a formidable force once again.
The White Sox are likely going to have to make a few outside acquisitions, too, before they can finally reach baseball's mountaintop. General manager Rick Hahn says that's the plan. But the homegrown portion of those rosters of the future could resemble what the Astros have put together in recent seasons. Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins. That's the planned core on the South Side. And Hahn has a number of young pitchers who could make up a fearsome rotation, too, in Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. There are more names White Sox fans are familiar with who could play big roles, too.
That's a lot of talent, and while White Sox fans might remain skeptical until the wins start coming at an increased rate, the blueprint is there for those pieces to come together and create something special. The blueprint is what's across the field from the White Sox this week in Houston.
The Astros might cause some bad feelings for the White Sox and their fans over the next few nights. But if they look closely, they might catch a glimpse of the White Sox future if this rebuild goes where Hahn & Co. envision it going.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.
When Jake Arrieta takes the mound at Wrigley Field on Monday night, he will have officially pitched against all 30 major league teams. That alone is impressive; the messy results from his early seasons in Baltimore didn’t exactly scream 10-year veteran. There’s something charmingly poetic about Arrieta’s first return — and last new opponent — coming from the place that saved his career.
“He’s a different cat, and I appreciate that about him,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We talk — he’s a foodie, so we’ve talked a lot about restaurants. He was always making recommendations for me here in Chicago when he had more experience than I had here. Just in general, he likes to talk about things other than the game, which I always appreciated about him.”
Before coming to Chicago in a trade (that also included Pedro Strop), Arrieta had a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings pitched. After a slow beginning to his Cubs career, the righty was arguably the best pitcher in baseball during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The latter season was especially impressive: 229 innings pitched, a 1.77 ERA, and a career-best K/BB% (21.6) - all on the way to a Cy Young award.
Maddon referenced two games in 2015 that still comes to mind when he thinks about Arrieta: the 2015 Wild Card game against Pittsburgh and a late-June (June 21) game in Minnesota. That afternoon against the Twins, Arrieta went all nine innings while striking out seven and only allowing four hits. More importantly, it started a run of 20 straight starts without ever allowing more than three runs in a game. Over that stretch, he allowed only 14 earned runs and had an ERA under 1.00.
“I remember the game in Minnesota, 8-0 I think it was,” Maddon said. “It was a complete game in Minnesota. I thought that this was like, this seminal moment for him. That complete game, I thought, meant a lot to him internally. I thought after that he really took off.”
Monday night won’t actually be the first time Arrieta’s returned to Chicago, though. He came through last season, his first as a member of the Phillies, but didn’t pitch. As far as reunions go, Monday’s at Wrigley figures to be overwhelmingly positive.
“Honestly, I think Jake deserves his due,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said before the game. “His first time back here at Wrigley pitching against the Cubs. He deserves his due for everything he meant to this franchise. I don't look at it as a showdown or a referendum or anything like that. He deserves a warm embrace and a huge tip of the cap for everything that he meant for all of us.
“For me, personally, helping us all get to places we wanted to go. Doing it in such an exciting way. I'm a big Jake Arrieta fan, just not tonight."
2019 hasn’t been kind to Arrieta, who’s seen his walk-rate (9.8 percent) spike to a level not seen in over half a decade. His ERA is on the wrong side of 4 (though is there a right side of 4?) and he’s allowing some of the hardest contact of his career. The numbers say Arrieta’s not the pitcher he once was, but Maddon still sees shades of the Cy Young winner and World Series Champion.
“I would say the biggest difference is purely velocity on the fastball,” he said. “I’m watching the movement on the fastball, and I’m watching the break on the breaking ball. He’s probably more apt to throw the change up out there now than he had, but he looks he looks a lot the same.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.