The List: Best-Pitched Games in Nationals History
But that's a subjective thing, no? To most fans, the best pitching performance by a Nats pitcher in memory was the one they witnessed personally.
There does exist, however, the means for an objective measure of single-game pitching greatness -- the "play index" at baseball-reference.com (subscription required). The statistic is called "game score" (invented, naturally, by Bill James) and is computed thusly: Begin with 50 points. Add a point for every out recorded (27 for a complete game), another point for every strikeout and two points for every inning completed after the fourth. Subtract two points for each hit allowed, one point for each walk allowed, four points for each earned run allowed and two points for each unearned run allowed.
According to this measure, Martis's gem against the Cardinals ranks in a tie for seventh in Nationals history, with 79 points.
But of course, "game score" does not tell the entire story -- the relative quality of the opposing lineup, how desperately the team needed an exquisitely pitched game, etc. Below are the five best-pitched games in Nats history, by game score. But in the comments section, feel free to explain why you feel one special performance -- whether Martis's on Saturday, or a different one -- deserves better play.
4. (tie) John Patterson at Padres, Sept. 16, 2005 (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 83 game score). In what would be the final win of his one productive big league season, Patterson retired the final 14 batters of the game and defeated Padres ace Jake Peavy.
4. (tie) Jason Bergmann vs. Braves, May 14, 2007 (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 83 game score). For his first victory as a starter, Bergmann carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and beat John Smoltz. (And as an odd historical footnote, the game also featured Jesus Colome's only save in a Nationals uniform.)
3. John Patterson at Marlins, April 15, 2006 (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K, 84 game score). This gem stopped a six-game losing streak and portended a strong season from the Nats' ace. But within a week Patterson was on the disabled list, and by spring 2008 he was released by the Nationals and eventually out of baseball entirely.
2. Pedro Astacio vs. Braves, Aug. 15, 2006 (9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 88 game score). Arguably the most improbable entry on this list, Astacio was a 36-year-old journeyman who would spend only one season and win only four other games in a Nationals uniform. But on this night, he retired the first 14 batters he faced and delivered what remains the low-hit shutout performance by a Nats pitcher.
1. John Patterson vs. Dodgers, Aug. 4, 2005 (9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K, 92 game score). This game featured both the first complete-game shutout and the first grand slam (Brad Wilkerson) in Nationals history, and afterwards an emotional Patterson said, "It's the first time in my career I've been happy."
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