2005: 74 Pitches

May 20, 2005

In December 2003 the Twins sent Eric Milton to the Phillies in exchange for Nick Punto, Carlos Silva, and the famous player-to-be-named-later. To that point in his career, Silva had been used only out of the bullpen. The Twins thought he had the stuff to be a starter, and immediately plugged the Venezuelan into the starting rotation. Silva responded with a solid 2004 season in which he won 14 games and allowed only 35 walks in 203 innings pitched.

2005 started out even better for the 26-year-old Silva. In his first six starts he had a 3.77 ERA and had allowed, incredibly, only two walks in 43 innings pitched. Silva was scheduled to go against the Brewers in a Friday night game at the Metrodome on May 20, 2005; but Silva’s pitching performance could have just as likely have happened 100 years earlier.

The game was a perfect combination of a sinking sinker and an opponent that was more than happy to swing at it. Silva allowed just one run and five hits in a complete game victory. The complete game was rare enough, particularly in the Ron Gardenhire era, but that is not what made this effort by Silva special.

At the end of the night, Silva completed the 7-1 Twins’ victory by throwing just 74 pitches, 50 for strikes. It was, and is, the lowest pitch count in a complete game since 2000, when Elias started keeping track of low pitch counts in complete games.

LaVelle E. Neal offered some perspective in his game story in the Star Tribune (5/21/05):

Chew on this for a minute. A pitcher throws eight warmup tosses before each inning. That means Silva entered the ninth inning with 64 warmup throws and 64 actual pitches. And that means he threw more warmup pitches than actual pitches in the first, second, sixth and seventh innings.

Silva finished the 2005 season leading the league with an incredible 0.4 walks per nine inning rate and 7.89 strikeout to walk ratio. His numbers weren’t great in 2006 or 2007, but he managed to get a big contract with Seattle, where he has struggled for the past season and a half.

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