Oh Yes, More No-Nos

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It’s been close to two months into the 2021 season, and we’re at a grand total of six no-hitters from pitchers around the league (seven, if we’re counting Madison Bumgarner’s seven-inning no-hitter). This week saw two more no-hitters transpire, this time from Spencer Turnbull of the Tigers, and Corey Kluber of the Yankees.

On Tuesday, Turnbull threw the eighth no-hitter in Tigers history, and allowed just two walks -- one to Jarred Kelenic, and one to Jose Marmolejos in the ninth inning. Every no-hitter has at least one fantastic defensive play -- here, it was a terrific back-handed snag by Jeimer Candelario on a ground ball that was sharply hit by Mitch Haniger, at a blistering 108.4 miles per hour. He became the fifth pitcher this season to throw a no-no, and the second to do it to Seattle this year after John Means accomplished the feat against Seattle a few weeks ago. Interestingly enough, Turnbull led all of MLB in losses in 2019 -- what a follow-up!

Wasting no time at all, Kluber followed up Turnbull’s performance with a 101-pitch symphony of his own on Wednesday, to complete the Yankees' first no-hitter since 1999. The only runner to reach base off the veteran right-hander was Charlie Culberson, who walked in the third inning. Kluber then retired 20 straight to finish off his first career no-no. He induced 13 swinging strikes and had an otherworldly CSW rate of 38 percent on all pitches, contributing to nine strikeouts throughout the performance.

The number of no-hitters thrown this year shouldn’t discount that throwing a no-hitter is still an impressive feat, considering the stamina, pitch efficiency, and luck it takes, not to mention having a fantastic defense behind the pitcher, like Turnbull had with Candelario’s play. A prior column cited that offense in MLB is down across all 30 teams; the league batting average currently sits at .237. Fewer home runs are being hit overall, and fewer balls are being put into play; going into Sunday, the league average BABIP is .289. In case you’re curious, the most no-hitters ever in an MLB season is eight -- this last happened in 1884. Seven no-hitters were thrown in 1990, 1991, and 2012.

Notable Performances

28-year-old rookie Adolis Garcia is continuing to mash; on Saturday, he had a two-homer day, contributing to the Rangers’ 8-4 win over the Astros. García smashed a solo homer to left field in the fifth inning; his solo shot in the seventh tied the game. He’s blossomed into one of the best hitters in the league, slashing .295/.333/.616 with a .950 OPS. He’s tied with Shohei Ohtani for the AL lead with 14 home runs to go along with 37 RBI, 23 runs, and five stolen bases.

Jesse Winker of the Reds has been on a roll: Already off to an incredible start to the year, the 27-year-old outfielder had quite the performance on Friday against the Brewers, going 4-for-4 with three home runs. Winker followed that up by going deep again on Saturday, giving him 12 homers on the year going into Sunday’s action. His wRC+ of 189 has been nothing short of ridiculously good.

Max Muncy of the Dodgers finds himself in this section of the column often - and this time, he stole his first base of the season on Thursday. Muncy has been scalding the ball as of late: Muncy’s home run off Scott Kazmir on Saturday was hit off the bat at 108.2 miles per hour. With the three hits and a homer, he carries a .988 OPS on the year going into Sunday. It’s been one heck of a first quarter of the season for the 30-year-old first baseman.

Robbie Ray of the Blue Jays now has five quality starts in his last six starts; though he did not factor into the decision on Saturday, he put forth an excellent performance, going seven innings and giving up just one run off five hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. The 29-year-old lefty has been on top of his control, able to bounce back nicely in at-bats when he’s fallen behind in the count. Going into Sunday, he’s got a 3.42 ERA and 55 strikeouts, over 47 1/3 innings pitched.

The Cubs’ Adbert Alzolay is a sinker/slider pitcher who has been having a ton of success with those pitches. On Saturday, he gave up two runs off five hits against the Cardinals, as Alzolay’s slider was especially sharp in this start; ending the evening with an elite 36 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) on all pitches. Alzolay has been especially successful in limiting hard contact in at-bats.

Honor Roll

Gerrit Cole (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K on Saturday), Ozzie Albies (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI on Saturday), Blake Snell (6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K on Tuesday), Mike Zunino (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB on Tuesday), Ramon Laureano (2-for-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB on Tuesday), Jordan Montgomery (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 11 K on Friday), Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (3-for-5 , 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB on Friday), Carlos Rodon (6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 13 K on Friday), Domingo German (7 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K on Thursday), Randy Arozarena (3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R on Wednesday), Walker Buehler (7 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 4 BB, 7 K on Monday, 7 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 K on Saturday), Nick Madrigal (3-for-5, HR, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, 3 R on Monday)

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Injury Report

The Twins placed right-hander Kenta Maeda on the 10-day injured list with a right adductor strain on Sunday. Maeda had been dealing with groin tightness over his past two starts, and it reportedly was bothering the right-hander during the fifth inning of his start on Saturday. Going into Sunday, Maeda is carrying a disappointing 5.27 ERA over 42 2/3 innings this year with 39 strikeouts.

Cleveland placed designated hitter Franmil Reyes on the 10-day injured list with an internal oblique strain on Sunday; the 25-year-old looked to be in serious pain after fouling off a pitch. It’s predicted that he will be out for five to seven weeks; Cleveland has called up Owen Miller in response.

White Sox outfielder Adam Engel is set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte. The 29-year-old was placed on the injured list with a strained right hamstring back on April 1; a recent MRI revealed a Grade 3 sprain. He posted a solid .295/.333/.477 slash line with three home runs and one stolen base over 36 games in 2020.

Cardinals placed RHP Miles Mikolas on the 10-day injured list with right forearm tightness. Mikolas missed the entire 2020 season due to shoulder issues but was solid over 12 1/3 innings during his rehab appearances recently. Currently, there’s no timetable for his return.

A devastating loss for the Angels: outfielder Mike Trout was placed on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 right calf strain on Tuesday. Trout suffered the injury while running the bases in the first inning Monday night against the Indians and is expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks. Before Tuesday, Trout was slashing .333/.466/.624 with eight home runs, 18 RBI, two stolen bases, and 23 runs scored through 36 games (146 plate appearances) this season.

On Friday, the Yankees announced that outfielder Aaron Hicks will undergo surgery to repair his injured left wrist. Hicks has been on the injured list since May 13; Brett Gardner will see significant time in center field.

Jacob deGrom’s minor league rehab start on Wednesday went incredibly well, to say the least, as he struck out eight and did not allow a run in three innings. The Mets wanted to see how deGrom felt after his bullpen session on Sunday, but all signs point to him returning on Tuesday against the Rockies.

Batting Around

Scott Kazmir -- yes, that same Scott Kazmir who was in your starting rotation in MVP Baseball 2005 -- returned to the majors in his re-debut on Saturday night; the 37-year-old had not pitched in the big leagues since 2016, when he made 26 starts for the Dodgers.

In his start on Saturday night for the Giants, Kazmir relinquished a third-inning home run to Max Muncy, but was otherwise solid, topping out at 93.6 miles per hour with his fastball. He allowed two hits and walked two -- but left this appearance with a 2.25 ERA and 0.50 WHIP to begin his career revival, once again.

The Giants signed Kazmir to a minor-league contract in the offseason -- it’s certainly an interesting comeback story. Manager Gabe Kapler praised Kazmir post-game for his ability to stay composed and maintain a veteran’s presence on the mound.

And that’s the wrap on news for the week - join us next week for more storylines and updates from around Major League Baseball.

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