Josh Beckett's baseball career was somewhat in jeopardy last year after he required season-ending thoracic outlet surgery. It's not in jeopardy now — not after the 34-year-old right-hander tossed his first career no-hitter and the first no-hitter in MLB this season against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon.
Beckett, who won his first game since 2012 back on May 13, looked like the dominant ace of years gone by, handling the Phillies lineup with relative ease during the 6-0 victory. He expertly kept them off balance by mixing his fastball, which froze Chase Utley for the final out, with an effective curveball and changeup. His changeup, especially, looked lethal as he mowed through the middle of Philadelphia's order for the final time in the seventh inning.
Beckett's shot at a perfect game ended quickly when he walked Chase Utley with two outs in the first inning. That was one of three walks on the day. The only question that really remained as the outs ticked away was how much leeway manager Don Mattingly would give his pitch count. Beckett sat at 100 pitches following the seventh inning, but needed only an additional 28 pitches to record the final six outs. His 128 pitches were a career high.
The outing cements what has been an impressive comeback season to date. Over his first 46 and two-thirds innings, Beckett has posted a 2.89 ERA and allowed opponents to bat only .219 against him. Both of those numbers will obviously come down in light of Sunday's outing.
From a historical perspective, it's the 283rd no-hitter in MLB history. It's the 21st no-hitter in Dodgers history, and their first since Hideo Nomo's remarkable outing at Coors Field on Sept. 17, 1996. The Phillies, on the other hand, had not been no-hit since 1978 when Bob Forsch of the St. Louis Cardinals shut them down.
It was a memorable afternoon and career-defining moment for one of the game's most dynamic arms. At times it's felt like Beckett never quite reached his full potential, mostly because of injuries. But he showed us what he best looked like on Sunday, and it was a joy to experience.
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