Detroit Tigers All-Time Lists

Detroit Tigers: Ten best pitching performances in team history

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SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 10: American League All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers deals during the 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at AT&T Park on July 10, 2007 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 10: American League All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers deals during the 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at AT&T Park on July 10, 2007 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 18: A detail of a Detroit Tigers hat with an official postseason logo is seen on the bat rack in the udgout againstthe New York Yankees during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

It goes without saying, but baseball was a different game over 100 years ago. Gone are the days when pitchers would always throw complete games, regardless of pitch count or extra innings.

Dead baseballs and huge, unending fences made baseball a much more low-scoring game. Because of this, many pitching stats are skewed from the early days. That does not mean the performances were any less extraordinary, just that they need to be viewed in a different lens.

One such outing is that of Tigers right-hander Bill Donovan. On September 10, 1911, Donovan defeated the Cleveland Naps 2-1. The game was won by the Tigers in the bottom of the 13th. Donovan threw the entire game. In 13 innings he surrendered five hits and one walk, while striking out seven. His one run was unearned as well.

Donovan’s game score was 101, one of very few games in Tigers history with a game score of over 100. Again, outings like this, while uncommon even back then, are virtually unheard of nowadays. Still, only giving up six baserunners in 13 innings of work is impressive no matter what era you’re in.

Donovan pitched for the Tigers for 11 years, going 140-96 with a 2.49 ERA and a 109 ERA+.

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