Thursday June 12, 2003
6-Man No Hitter
I’ve been watching major league baseball for 20 years. Baseball is a great example for the saying “never say never”. Baseball has such a rich history. BUT, that said, there are so many times that I find myself saying “I’ve never seen that!” Sometimes it is a small thing in the big picture, like Kevin Mitchell making that barehanded catch in left field. And, sometimes it is historical, and tonight was one of those times. Six Houston Astro pitchers combined to No-Hit the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. That’s the most pitchers to have combined for a No-Hitter in major league history. (Quick Sidenote – Am I wrong, or does Brian Cashman look just like Billy Ripken?)
Yeah, I know. The importance or significance of the No-Hitter can be argued. I fully understand that in all reality, a 2 hit shutout is equally, or more, impressive than a no-hitter with 3 walks and 2 errors. However, I still am impressed by the no-hitter. There is extra pressure on the pitcher(s) as the game gets to the later innings. The crowd sure loves seeing it and you can feel their excitement.
But, this no-hitter was different. It is much different than the other no-hitter thrown this year by the Phillies Kevin Millwood. I don’t know if it just seemed less special or what? But, when a guy is out there pitching the 9th inning, and he’s pitched over 100 pitches and he’s gone the whole way himself, I think it’s more special.
Tonight’s no-hitter was maybe a “team” no-hitter! Six pitchers were involved. Lance Berkman not only drilled a big home run but made a “web gem” in left field to preserve the no-hitter.
It’s interesting to me to see the pitchers whose names will go to Cooperstown now and be there forever because of last night. Three of the pitchers are big name, solid, proven major league pitchers. Three of the pitchers are youngsters making their way into the big leagues.
Here’s the breakdown of those pitchers:
Roy Oswalt has been one of the best pitchers in major league baseball the past 2 seasons. With a 4-4 record this year, his career record is 37-16. His career E.R.A. coming into this season was 2.91. This season so far, 3.05. Throwing his fastball at over 95 mph, Oswalt has great control too. In 375 2/3 IP for his career, he’s walked just 106 and struck out 425 hitters. Unfortunately for the 24 year old Oswalt and the Astros, Roy had to leave the game early in the 2nd inning tweaking his groin, an injury that put him on the Disabled List once this season already. (1 IP, 2 K) His status is listed as day-to-day, but I’m sure they’ll evaluate him again the next few days to determine if he’ll make his next scheduled start. (with him on my fantasy baseball team and scheduled for 2 starts next week, I sure hope he’s alright!)
With Oswalt unable to continue, 27 year old Pete Munro was brought in to the game. He pitched 2 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking three. Coming into the season, Munro’s 4th in the big leagues, he had walked just 62 batters, striking out 99. But, this year, control has been his problem for him. In 40 innings, he has now struck out 25 batters and walked 25. His career ERA is 5.30. Basically, he’s not the kind of pitcher who is brought in to tough games. But, he gave the Astros almost 3 innings of no-hit relief.
Kirk Saarloos was brought in to get the final out of the 4th inning. Saarloos made 17 starts last season for the Astros going 6-7 with a 6.01 ERA. He actually beat Mark Prior as the first pitcher from the 2001 draft to get to the majors. This year, he started at AAA. After being called up (for the second time in 3 weeks) May 21, he made two starts before being relegated to the bullpen. He’s never been considered a big prospect because his “stuff” doesn’t grade as great. But, he flew through the minor leagues by just getting people out. So, he does have a shot at getting back into the rotation at some point in the future. This year, he’s 2-0 with a 5.94 ERA. He has 19 strikeouts now in 18 innings. He pitched through the 5th inning.
26 year old Brad Lidge was next for the Astros. He has to be the biggest surprise for the Astros this year. Last year, he pitched in six games with the Astros and just 8 2/3 innings and carried a 6.23 ERA into this season. He made the team’s bullpen to begin this season and he has relished the role. In 40 1/3 innings, Lidge has given up just 6 earned runs (1.34 ERA). He’s also struck out 44 batters in that time. He pitched the 6th and 7th innings to get the Astros to their most dominant game closers.
Octavio Dotel technically isn’t a closer, but he has closers stuff. He is one of the most dominant right-handed relievers in all of baseball. In 4 previous seasons, the 29 year old Dotel had pitched in 213 games. He started 34 games in his first 2 years, but it didn’t take the Astros long to realize that Dotel was best utilized in the bullpen. (If only the Twins and Tom Kelly had realized that with LaTroy Hawkins sooner!) In 412 2/3 innings coming into this year, he has struck out 490 Ks. His career ERA is 3.86. This season, Dotel is 5-1 (2 saves) with a 1.72 ERA. Last night, Dotel actually struck out 4 Yankees batters in the 8th inning (Soriano reached striking out on a wild pitch) bringing his season total to 49 (12.02 per 9 innings).
And, for the 9th inning, it was 31 year old, 2 time All-Star, 1999 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Billy Wagner. He of the fastball that is consistently above 96 and has hit as high as 102 miles per hour. He came in and struck out Jorge Posada and Bubba Trammell before getting Hideki Matsui to ground out to 1B. Billy Wagner has been around since 1996 (pitched in one game in 1995). He has struck out 637 batters in 455 2/3 innings pitched, or 12.58 strikeouts per nine innings. Dominating! He’s got a 2.61 career ERA with 200 career saves. This year, he’s 1-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 19 saves.
This is the first time the New York Yankees have been No-Hit since Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm No-Hit them in 1958.
I think this is an example of why what some of today’s hitters are doing is so impressive! Unlike back in the “Old Days”, when pitchers were tough and through complete games, even if they lost some of there “stuff.” Now, there are specialists who come in with live arms, and just present a different challenge than the starting pitcher.
Yes, the Yankees of 2003 certainly aren’t the Yankees of 1998 or for sure the Yankees of 1927, but they do have a very strong lineup. Soriano, Jeter, Giambi, Ventura, Posada, these guys can hit. So, it’s unfair to take anything away from this no hitter. So, however you look at it, what the Astros pitching staff did tonight is very impressive!
Twins Thoughts -
It sure sounds like people, including Twins people were really short-tempered, maybe overreacting to the Twins 2 game losing streak. I didn’t understand that. Yes, Tuesday night’s game was quite frustrating. The Twins didn’t really hit, and Radke gave up more home runs.
However, the Twins ACE Kyle Lohse was on the mound last night. Clearly he has been the best starting pitcher. He set the tone for last night’s game early. Getting ahead, throwing lots of strikes, just being aggressive! Even the pitch that Jay Payton hit for a solo home run wasn’t a bad pitch.
The Twins got things going right away in the first inning. After Jacque Jones got out, Guzman got a gift from Official Scorer Tom Mee and an infield hit. Corey Koskie worked an 8-pitch walk. Phenom Justin Morneau muscled a 2-2 pitch into left field to score Guzman from second.
Highlights of the game -
Corey Koskie was 4-4.
Justin Morneau had 3 more singles and was intentionally walked in his 2nd AB last night. Arguably, the best ball he hit all night was the one time he got out.
Jacque Jones, Cristian Guzman and Luis Rivas all had 2 hits. Yes, Luis Rivas had 2 hits
LaTroy Hawkins saved the day again. After Juan Rincon struggled again, and Michael Nakamura couldn’t get Larry Walker out, Hawkins came in and struck out Greg Vaughn on four fastballs. In the 8th, he made three perfect pitches to Jose Hernandez for another strikeout (for Hawkins AND for Hernandez).
Eddie Guardado got his 18th save of the season.
Kyle Lohse went to 6-4 and his ERA dropped to 2.91. (Can you say ALL-STAR?)
Today’s game, it’s Kenny Rogers (4-2, 4.82) vs. Darren Oliver (3-4, 4.67).
Something to Think about:
I’m really interested in hearing specific trade proposals that you would make if you were General Manager Terry Ryan. What do the Twins need? Which players do you think they should go after? And, finally, who should we trade to get those guys.
Please E-mail me your suggestions, and if I get some good ideas, I will post them and discuss them.
Here’s one scenario that I think would be good.
I completely agree that the lone weak spot on the Twins roster right now is at 2B. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Twins are fine and will win the division with Luis Rivas. I also think that Rivas does have a decent future in major league baseball. But, if they want to show the baseball world that they’re for real, and want more than just another trip to the playoffs, I think a big move is necessary. Remember, Rivas becomes arbitration eligible after this season, and his salary could jump to a point where the Twins won’t feel he’s worth it any more. Something to remember though is that with a small-market team, Ryan can’t just make moves for now. Everything also has to have the future in mind.
I think the Twins should make a move soon. Sometimes, I think that waiting until the July 31st deadline actually isn’t as good. Rash decisions are made because of said deadline. There are just two players that I think the Twins should consider as their second baseman for the rest of the year.
First, Jose Vidro is clearly the best second baseman that might be available in the next month or so. He could add so much to the Twins offense, and be a huge improvement defensively as well. I think he could, as a switch hitter, take over the #2 spot in the Twins lineup.
My trade proposal to the Expos is this:
Jose Vidro and a mid-level AA pitcher
Joe Mays, Adam Johnson and Michael Restovich.
Who knows what Mays will do? Could he be the pitcher he was in 2001 again? Maybe. Could he be hurt and struggle the rest of his contract? Maybe. But, in a deal involving both the Twins and the Expos, neither team would be willing to add salary, so the Twins will have to lose some player of value. The Twins get a great second baseman. The Expos get a quality starting pitcher, a former #1 pick, and potentially the right fielder that they will need to replace Vlad Guerrero next year when he bolts Montreal.
The second second baseman that I would like to see the Twins go after is Florida’s Luis Castillo. He’s strictly a singles hitter, but he can steal bases as well. He could fit in as the Twins leadoff hitter, allowing them to drop Jacque Jones into more of an RBI position.
My trade proposal to the Marlins:
Luis Castillo and Michael Tejera
Rick Reed and Lew Ford
What the Twins get? A quality second baseman and leadoff hitter AND a left handed reliever, allowing Johan Santana to be in the rotation full time.
What the Marlins get? Probably a starting outfielder, and a pitcher who will be a free agent after the season, unless he pitches too many innings (which, having now been “disabled” twice this year, he shouldn’t be able to do). This will free up money for them this offseason.
So, please, send me your thoughts. E-mail me the proposals you would make if you were in control of such things.
And, have a great Thursday!
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