Well, that was spectacular, wasn't it? The D'backs got no-hit for the second time in franchise history today - the first was Jose Jimenez, back on June 25, 1999. And this was not a no-hit by a future Hall of Famer, Cy Young winner, or even a crafty veteran - but by a rookie pitcher with only a dozen major-league starts to his name before today. While not quite up to Bobo Holloman standards (who, in 1953, threw a no-hitter in his very first major-league start!), I think you know what the only appropriate reaction is to the Diamondbacks' performance today: "Well done! You must get up very early in the morning."
We came close on a couple of occasions: a shallow fly-ball by Tracy in the fourth was perhaps the nearest to a hit, until Willingham made a diving catch. Byrnes, who made the final out, also had a couple of hard-hit balls, that happened to be more or less straight at Marlins' fielders. But the only base-runners that we managed were four walks and an error, and none of them got past second base. If nobody outside Florida knew Anibal Sanchez's name this morning, they certainly know it tonight, after he became the first rookie to throw a no-hitter since Bud Smith of the Cardinals did it on September 3, 2001.
Curious how the last two no-hitters have both involved the Diamondbacks - one giving (the Big Unit), and now receiving. The last time consecutive no-hitters involved the same team was the luckless Padres, who got no-hit twice in 2001 by A.J. Burnett and the above-mentioned Smith. [San Diego has been no-hit six times, without ever having one themselves] It means the last four no-hitters have been thrown by National League teams (one was in interleague play) - no American League pitcher has done it in more than four years, since Derek Lowe did it in April 2002. Sanchez also ended the longest stretch between no-hitters in history at 6,364 major league games.
Unsurprisingly, that somewhat overshadowed, shall we say, a very good start by Edgar Gonzalez, who will instead become a minor footnote in baseball history. He picked up the loss, running his career record as a starter to 1-13. EdGon won his very first appearance in the majors, on June 1st, 2003, but has lost thirteen consecutive decisions as a starter, during fourteen appearances in the role since then. This is probably something of a record in itself, though he has picked up a couple of relief victories to balance things out.
However, this time out, he can feel somewhat unlucky to have come up against a pitcher who was on such devastating form (let's go with that, more charitable explanation, rather than the alternative, to wit: "...have a supporting offense, consisting of a bunch of hackers who couldn't get hits at a Grateful Dead concert"). He really only made two mistakes: unfortunately, these were promptly deposited into the bleachers by Borchard and Cabrera, and accounted for the two runs he allowed over six innings of work. He allowed five hits and two walks, fanning five hitters, and had a particularly impressive first inning, after allowing a leadoff triple to Ramirez, stranding the Marlin there.
EdGon was pulled at the start of the seventh, following a double and a hit batter: he'd only thrown 87 pitches, but it was still a close enough game to warrant ensuring that it didn't go any further. Pena(rio) had his best outing in quite some time, retiring the next three hitters to strand both inherited runners, and Juan Cruz fanned the side in the eighth, around a walk. Got to be pleased with this as a set of pitching performances: even if the actual outcome left something to be desired, maybe Edgar can become a reliable member of the rotation. Though that 0-13 run suggests he needs a new pair of starter underpants or something. ;-)
Needless to say, not much to mention as far as our hitters are concerned. Luis Gonzalez, back in the lineup, did draw two walks. Miguel Montero made his debut behind the plate, and went 0-for-3, but made a very nice throw to nail Ramirez when he tried to steal second. Quentin, Drew and Jackson were also playing, but went 0-for-9 with 2 K's. Sanchez vs. Drew made for an interesting match-up that was a lesson in itself to watch. Here's to seeing more of that in the 2008 NLCS. Albeit, hopefully with a different result...
Was ploughing a bit of a lonely furrow for much of this one, though even fewer people seemed actually to be at the ballpark [the announced attendance was 12,561, but as the old saw goes, most of them came dressed as empty seats - this report says nearer two thousand at first pitch!]. Didn't seem like there was much interest at all, until the no-hitter became a serious possibility - I really started paying attention to that around the sixth frame or so. Thanks to those who did pop in from the ninth inning on: icecoldmo, npineda, andrewinnewyork and suitsmetoATnT.
Better news from Tucson, where the Sidewinders - clearly learning from the Diamondbacks' recent experiences! - came back from a late-inning deficit to snatch victory in the first playoff game. They were trailing 3-0 against Salt Lake City in the bottom of the eighth, but scored three runs to tie the game up, and take it into extras. Alberto Callaspo then drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the eleventh, to give them a 4-3 victory. Murphy got the win with two perfect innings of relief: Micah Owings started and allowed one run over six. However, Tucson did commit three errors, leading to two runs, with shortstop Alberto Gonzalez the culprit in two of them.
One of the few remaining links to the foundation of the franchise is departing. I refer to Diamondbacks President Rich Dozier, who resigned his position today. Sounds somewhat more dramatic than I think it is, since he'll be staying on to help new incumbent, Derrick Hall, get settled into the role. Not all that certain, what the role of president actually entails, or whether the change will result in any significant change in the direction of the franchise. I suspect, probably not.
Which is a good note on which to finish this. Too late for Heroes and Zeroes, I'll get them up before first pitch tomorrow - not least because there is an odd storm going on: thunder, lighting and no rain. Best get this posted now, just in case! Wow, that last strike was really pretty clo...
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Today: Zeroes for Heroes