NO-HITTER DOESN’T GUARANTEE GREATNESS

A no-hitter in baseball is a pretty significant accomplishment.  It means that a pitcher does not allow a hit to an opposing for an entire game.  Back in my Little League days, I combined with another pitcher for a no-hitter but we did not find out until after the game.  I guess that was good because I did not have any pressure on me.  In the majors, however, there can be quite a bit of pressure, especially when a pitcher is standing on the mound in front of 30,000 to 40,000-plus fans!

After throwing a no-hitter, a pitcher should expect to be regarded as pretty good…but that is not necessarily true.  Just because you throw a no-hitter, you cannot expect to be treated royally…well, perhaps for at least a couple of weeks!   Take Philip Humber, for example.  On April 21, 2012, Humber not only no-hit the Seattle Mariners, he threw a perfect game…that means, he retired all 27 batters to face him.  That has only been done 23 times in 139 years!  Humber, however, struggled the rest of the season and has never approached greatness.  In fact, he was 0-8 with Houston in 2013 and is trying to catch on with the Oakland Athletics.

Ditto for Dallas Braden.  He also tossed a perfect game, on May 9, 2010 against Tampa Bay.  That year, Braden was only 11-14 and, the following year he made only three starts before injuries sidelined him.  Braden is currently out of baseball.

Speaking of perfect games, Armando Galarraga had a perfect game taken away from him by an umpire, of all people.  It happened on June 2, 2010, against the Cleveland Indians.  Galarraga, pitching for the Tigers, had retired the first 26 batters; then, Jason Donald hit a ground ball and was thrown out at first…except first base umpire Jim Joyce, for some unexplained reason, called the runner safe.  Both teams and the fans were in shock.  It wasn’t even a close play!  Joyce realized his mistake and apologized to Galarraga after the game.  Pundits referred to the game as the “Imperfect Game”!  The blown call must have had a lasting effect on Galarraga.  He was only 4-9 the rest of that year and was just 26-34 for his career.  He has been out of the major leagues since 2012 and is currently pitching in the Mexican League.

Of course, some pitchers who have thrown no-hitters have been extremely successful.  Example: Tim Lincecum, of the San Francisco Giants.  “The Freak” has thrown two no hitters:  The first one was on July 13, 2013 against the San Diego Padres.  Then, on June 25 of last year, Lincecum recorded another no-hitter against…wait for it!…the San Diego Padres!  Lincecum has three World Series rings, 2 Cy Young awards, and a partridge in a pear tree (sorry!  I could not resist).

Most people would think that if a pitcher throws a no-hitter, he would not allow any runs.  NOT SO FAST!  Ervin Santana, then of the Angels, tossed a no-hitter against Cleveland on July 27, 2011 but won by a 3-1 score.  In 1993, the late Daryl Kile no-hit the Mets but gave up a run and won, 7-1.

Now…the ultimate embarrassment:  throwing a no-hitter and losing!  That happened twice.  Steve Barber of the Orioles threw a no-hitter against the Tigers on April 30, 1967…but lost the game, 2-1.  In 1965, Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt 45s (before they became the Astros no-hit the Cincinnati Reds but lost, 1-0.

With well over 2,000 played each year, you can pretty much count on a no-hitter…maybe even two…a season.  There has been at least one no-hitter thrown per year since 2006.  Last year, there were five no-hitters recorded. The major league record for the most no-hitters in a year is nine…done in 1884.  So, sit back and wait for the no-nos to roll in!

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