So close, yet so far away.
That has been the on-going theme as we await this season's elusive first no-hitter. It seems like weekly there are two or three pitchers who come within single-digit outs of accomplishing the feat, but one pesky hitter always stands in their way, determined to keep himself and his teammates off the wrong side of the record books.
To be honest, it almost feels like we're in some sort of long-standing no-hitter drought, but I think that's influenced by a couple of different factors.
The first, of course, is due to the high number of close calls we've experienced. Those began almost right away when Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish fell one out short of a perfect game against the Houston Astros on April 2. Marwin Gonzalez broke that one up with a clean single to center field.
On Wednesday afternoon, Atlanta Braves rookie right-hander Julio Teheran became the latest to put us on "no-hitter alert" as he held the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the hit column until the eighth inning at Turner Field. Pinch-hitter Brandon Inge played spoiler with a clean single down the left field line, but it was a career best outing for the 22-year-old Teheran. He struck out 11 over what ended up being eight scoreless innings while walking two and hitting two batters.one out short on May 24 against the Minnesota Twins when professional spoiler Joe Mauer broke up his third career no-no bid in the ninth inning.
On May 10, Shelby Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals pitched perhaps the most dominant game of the season in a one-hit victory over the Colorado Rockies. It may not technically fall under the category of "close call" due to Eric Young Jr. leading off the game with a broken bat single, but Miller went on to retire the next 27 in a row. Clearly no-hit stuff.
In addition to the aforementioned near-misses, Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Matt Harvey have also carried no-hit bids in the late innings this season. Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez pitched back-to-back one-hitters for the Washington Nationals in April.
So many close calls, but no history.
The other reason it may feel like we're in the middle of a fairly long drought right now is this is the latest we've gone into a season without a no-hitter since all the way back in 2006. We've almost become trained to believe it's not normal for a no-hitter to take this long to happen, when in reality we went through a twelve year stretch from 1994-2006 when only 21 occurred. That's less than two no-nos per season on average, with 2000 and 2005 not featuring any at all.
It's also worth mentioning that at this point last season, we had already seen three no-hitters — including Phil Humber's perfect game — and we were about to see two more in the next eight days. On June 8, Kevin Millwood and five Seattle Mariners relievers combined to no-hit the Dodgers. Five days later, Matt Cain tossed the season's second perfecto and 22nd in MLB history.
So that leads us to the obvious question with no obvious answer: Will 2013 stand up as a year of close calls but no no-hitters?
I think the odds (with the aid of some watered down lineups and terrific starting pitching) would strongly suggest it's only a matter of when, not if. But only time will tell for sure.
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