By Bob Hurst
Another no-hitter was thrown this week in Major League Baseball.
In the Year of the Pitcher, no-hitters are becoming nearly as frequent as those pitched in high school softball games. There have now been five thrown this season, including two perfect games.
Detroit’s Armando Galarraga would have had a perfect game last month, but lost it with one out to go in the ninth inning on a bad call at first base by umpire Jim Joyce. Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza is the latest one to do it, shutting down the Tigers in a 5-0 win at Tropicana Field on Monday night. And that’s not a misprint. It was a Rays pitcher who tossed the no-hitter, not a Rays opponent.
For the first time in Tampa Bay franchise history, all 13 years of it, the club has a pitcher with a no-hitter to his name. It’s about time too, because the Rays have been on the other end of a no-hitter or perfect game four times, twice this season and three times since 2009.
“We needed one,” said Garza, who faced the minimum 27 batters. “I don’t care who it came from. We just needed one for our own confidence. It’s fun.”
Garza, who came to the Rays in a trade with Minnesota before the 2008 season, gave up a second-inning walk, followed by a double play. Rays right-fielder Ben Zobrist made the defensive play of the day with a diving catch on the run near the wall off the bat of Danny Worth in the third inning.
“It was one of those days where everything lined up,” Garza said. “The defense made great plays. That ninth inning, I kept telling myself, ‘Just finish it, just battle. If it’s meant to happen, it’s going to happen.”
Garza (11-5) accomplished the gem by throwing heat. Of his 120 pitches, 99 were fastballs. He struck out six.
Matt Joyce provided the offense for Tampa Bay with a sixth-inning grand slam, which happened to be the first Rays hit of the night.
This is the first season with at least five no-hitters pitched since 1991, when there were seven. There were also seven no-hitters thrown in 1990.
StatsWatch: Here’s how the other four pitchers who have thrown a no-hitter or perfect game (and one special mention) have fared since (through July 27):
” Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies (15-2, 2.75 ERA), is 12-2 with a 3.02 ERA, including a one-hitter and a pair of two-hit games since his no-hitter at Arizona on April 17.
” Dallas Braden, A’s (5-7, 3.77 ERA), is 1-5, 4.11, including four games in which he allowed 10 or more hits, since his perfect game vs. Tampa Bay on May 9.
” Roy Halladay, Phillies (11-8, 2.28 ERA) is 4-5, 2.60, with three games of 10 or more hits allowed and none with less than five hits given up since his perfect game at Florida on May 29.
” Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks (6-9, 5.01 ERA), is 1-3, 6.92 with no less than six hits, four runs allowed per game in four starts since his no-hitter at Tampa Bay on June 25.
” Armando Galarraga, Tigers (3-3, 4.43 ERA), is 2-1, 5.25 in eight starts since his one-hitter, or perfect game, considering the missed call at first base, on June 2 against Cleveland.
Mauer, Twins, explode: Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer went 5-for-5 with a career-high seven RBIs in a 19-1 rout over Kansas City on Monday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mauer is the third catcher in history to have at least five hits and seven RBIs in one game.
The others were Walker Cooper, for the Reds against the Cubs in 1949 (six hits, 10 RBIs), and Victor Martinez, for the Indians against the Mariners in 2004 (five hits, seven RBIs).
Mauer had three singles, a double and a three-run homer.
New Hall members: Andre Dawson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday, topping off a brilliant 21-year career. Dawson, who played for the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs, was an eight-time All-Star. He hit 438 home runs with 1,591 RBIs and stole 314 bases in a career that stretched from 1976-96.
Former manager Whitey Herzog, umpire Doug Harvey, broadcaster Jon Miller and sports writer Bill Madden were also inducted.
Diamond Notes: The 17,009 fans who witnessed Matt Garza’s no-hitter on Monday night at Tropicana Field are among the lowest attendance totals for a no-hitter. It was the fifth-lowest attendance for a no-hitter thrown since 1995. Kevin Brown’s no-hitter for Florida against San Francisco on June 10, 1997 was witnessed by only 10,257 fans at Candlestick Park…Pitcher Dan Haren, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels by Arizona on Sunday, has struggled following the All-Star break in recent seasons. In the last four years, Haren’s ERA ranged between 2.01 and 3.52 before the break, and 4.15 to 4.91 after. This year, Haren had a 4.36 ERA before the All-Star break, before ballooning to 6.51 in three starts after the break.
Copyright © 2010 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media