For the second time in as many days, a manager relieved his starter during a no-hitter with plenty of game left to play.
Manager Don Mattingly removed Straily in the sixth after giving up back-to-back walks to Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes. With the Marlins up 1-0, and facing a rejuventated Matt Harvey, Mattingly could tell his starter was beginning to tire during his third time through the Mets’ batting order.
Straily was leaving some balls high in the zone and it didn’t help that he had already thrown 93 pitches. After going down 3-1 to Cespedes, the Marlins had a quick meeting at the mound that didn’t produce any positive results. Straily missed inside on the next pitch and Mattingly yanked him right after. His final line: 5.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 5 SO.
Jarlin Garcia came on and finished the frame unblemished, but Neil Walker ended the bid for a combined no-hitter with a two-out single up the middle in the eighth inning.
Would it have been nice to see Straily stay in? Sure. But it’s too early in the year to unduly tax a starter, and it’s even nicer to see managers looking out for their pitchers.
We saw a nearly identical situation in Oakland on Saturday when the A’s pulled Sean Manaea after five innings of no-hit ball. In that game, Manaea was also nearing the 100-pitch plateau when manager Bob Melvin took him out.
You’ll hear plenty of arguments that baseball players are being coddled nowadays and that managers shouldn’t pull their starters during a no-no, but that type mindset is out-dated at best and dangerous at worst.
Players are competitive. They need someone looking out for their best interests, and the interests of their team, when the intensity of standing on the mound doesn’t give way to logical thinking.
If nothing else, these instances should highlight just how much an accomplishment throwing a no-hitter is. Everything has to go right and there are usually a few stellar catches involved.
Major League Baseball is still looking for its first no-hitter this season. It can keep waiting as long as its players remain healthy.
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