Tuesday July 27, 2010
It’s very easy to predict a strikeout when a player has two strikes. It gets harder when the count is empty. The odds change due to different circumstances. The batter could be in a slump. The pitcher might pitch for contact. These factors make it tough to predict what a batter and pitcher can do next. It gets more strenuous when pitching a no-hitter or perfect game. Well, we’ve seen five already. Welcome to the year of the pitcher!
Five no-hitters have been thrown this season, two of them perfect games. Athletics P Dallas Braden and Phillies P Roy Halladay threw those two. Three no-hitters were thrown by National League pitchers, one of them during the interleague contest. Three no-hitters were against the Rays, including Dallas Braden’s perfect game. Yet, the real story is not the lack of hitting. It’s not the pitch selection. It is the ultimate chess match between one man against an army of hitters. The arsenal of a pitcher varies. Changeups, curveballs, sliders, knuckleballs and even screwballs are choices a pitcher can throw against a batter. Let’s not forget the variation of the fastball: two-seamer, four-seamer, cutter, and sinker.
Each no-hitter has their story. Jimenez went on to win 15 games before the All-Star Break. Braden erased his argument with Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez over the “unwritten mound rule” and cemented himself in the history books. Halladay cemented himself as one of the great work horses currently pitching today. Diamondbacks P Edwin Jackson beat his old team (Rays), and it took him 149 pitches to beat them. Rays P Matt Garza matured on the field and beat the Tigers last night. The amazing thing is there could have been more.
We all know about Armando Galaragga’s unfortunate brush with imperfection. Yet, we don’t know about other stories. The Rays have been no-hit twice. It could have happened earlier on April 10th if Yankees P CC Sabathia didn’t surrender a hit after seven and two-thirds innings. Tropicana Field could have held three no-hitters in the same season. Reds P Travis Wood should have had a no-hitter on July 10th. The only problem was Roy Halladay was in his way, pitching against him. We could have witnessed six no-hitters, three of them perfect. It makes the pitcher even more important than ever.
The pitcher position was always essential to the game of baseball. This year, the pitcher position has been rejuvenated. The need for pitching is even greater than ever thanks to these impressive feats. Here’s hoping there’s many more to come.
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