Going the distance

Much has been said over the last several years about the near disappearance of the complete game in baseball. Never before have pitch counts been so highly scrutinized. Clearly, if there is any doubt today, managers will always go to the bullpen. And why blame them? I’d also rather see my ace with plenty of gas in the tank at the end of the season, rather than watch him throw 130 pitches into the ninth inning of a June regular season contest.

Stieb Still, there’s a lot to be said for a pitcher who takes pride in finishing what he started. Roy Halladay is one of those pitchers. Of the five complete games thrown in the American League this season (170 AL games overall), Halladay has two of them — including one during Monday night’s 6-1 win over Texas. In fact, ‘Doc’ has led Toronto pitchers in that category three out of the last four years, posting a career-high nine during the 2003 campaign. Clearly a sign of the times though, that number represents less than half the mark set by another Blue Jays ace back in 1982.

Indeed, Dave Stieb compiled a franchise-record 19 complete games that season, eight more than his previous career-high of 11. Unheard of today, Stieb tossed complete games in four straight starts (April 29 – May 13), going 2-2 during that span — which brings up another interesting point. While it’s rare for a pitcher today to record a loss despite tossing a complete game, Stieb — unfortunately — managed to accomplish that six times in 1982, and finished with a 13-6 record in his 19 complete games.

But did he have any gas left in the tank at the end of the year? Well, he managed to go 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA (2 ER, 27 IP) over his last three starts, including a complete-game (obviously), four-hit shutout victory over the Seattle Mariners in his final outing of the season. So, I’d say yes.

Halladay’s recent gem helps the Blue Jays temporarily forget about their injury woes … Toronto places yet another body — Gustavo Chacin — on the disabled list Monday, this time the 15-day variety … Troy Glaus, Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, with his team-leading fifth, all homer for the Blue Jays (13-12), winners of two in a row … Matt Stairs silences some critics, going 3-for-4 at the plate, while playing error-free defence in right … Lyle Overbay is batting just .185 (5-for-27) over his last eight games — but we won’t lose any sleep over it yet … A.J. Burnett goes tomorrow in the opener of a three-game set in Cleveland …

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