Jon Lester had an 0-2 count on Alberto Callaspo with two outs in the ninth. His team led 7-0, and he'd thrown 127 pitches. If it weren't for the fact that he was no-hitting the Royals, Lester's night would have ended much earlier.
Jason Varitek stood, asking for a high fastball. Callaspo watched it go past, almost at his neck, and the count was 1-2.
The next pitch was a cutter near Callaspo's hands -- and the infielder drilled it, foul but hard-hit.
For analysis, we take you to the comments on Page 101 of the game thread at Sons of Sam Horn:
That freaked me out...
Do NOT do that!
Wow. Mild heart attack there.
Dont throw the (expletive) cutter
The next pitch, Lester's 130th, was better. It was a 96-mph fastball, slightly high and outside. Callaspo flicked his bat helplessly for strike three.
The 24-year-old Lester had thrown his first no-hitter, and the 36-year-old Varitek had caught his fourth. This was the final pitching line: 9.0 IP, 1 W, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.22 WHIP.
Lester threw first-pitch strikes to nearly every hitter he faced, and he really only required one defensive gem, Jacoby Ellsbury's diving stab of a sinking liner in the fourth inning. It's tough to overstate how impressive the performance was, even if Kansas City is the lowest-scoring team in the A.L.
Lester entered the week available in 39.5 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and he'll end it on someone's roster in nearly all of them. There's little doubt that he deserves to be universally owned. After tonight's performance, his ERA is 3.41, his WHIP is 1.30, and he has 42 Ks in 66 innings.
His next two starts are at Oakland, and then at Baltimore...so good luck to them. Lester has obviously handled tougher opponents. As Jeff Passan wrote tonight, "the no-hitter stands out as merely his third-greatest accomplishment" in the past year.
Or as someone wrote on Page 105 of the aforementioned game thread, "Eat (expletive) cancer."
Unbelievably, there are other games we're supposed to account for tonight...
• CJ Wilson blew his second save of the season, allowing Joe Mauer to single home the tying run in the ninth inning of an eventual 7-6 loss. Wilson's ERA is now 5.03, and he only has 10 Ks in 19.2 innings. He's allowed seven earned runs in his last five appearances.
Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect seventh, facing the top of the Twins order. We now know that Guardado is the appropriate add.
Here's Ron Washington on the Wilson/Benoit/Guardado mess last Wednesday:
"The situation is going to dictate. If C.J. can't go, Eddie is going to get the ball. If he's unavailable, then [Benoit] will get it."
• Two of Earth's hottest hitters, Alfonso Soriano and Lance Berkman, somehow combined to go 0-for-8 in the Cubs 7-2 win. The 52.5 percent-owned Kaz Matsui stole his tenth base of the season, and the 62.3 percent-owned Michael Bourn stole his 19th.
• Lastings Milledge went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs in the Nats' 4-0 win over the Phillies. The first double was a well-placed flare, but the second was hammered. Tim Redding won his sixth game for the 20-win Nationals. Here's what the 19.9 percent-owned right-hander told the AP after the game:
"By no means do I think it was a quality effort as far as making good pitches, but the results were there."
By no means should you add him and expect more fantasy lines like this: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
• Clint Barmes hit his fourth homer on Monday and raised his average to .361. He's only 9.8 percent-owned, but he's hitting like it's April 2005.
• Ryan Ludwick continued his protracted period of ridiculousness, going 3-for-4 and hitting his 12th home run of the season (his fourth in three games). The homer was aided in no small way by Scott Hairston and/or an excited fan.
• The 25.0 percent-owned Frank Thomas hit a pair of homers on Monday night, both off James Shields.
• Blake DeWitt is still hitting. He went 2-for-5 and drove in the winning run in the Dodgers' 6-5 win over Cincinnati. The Reds intentionally walked both James Loney (2-for-4) and Matt Kemp (4-for-4) to get to him.