Siberian Baseball

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jon Lester pitches no-hitter

With Jon Lester's no-hitter tonight - but really, does it count if it's against the Royals? - the Red Sox now have matching no-no's for the cornerstones of next generation's rotation (Clay Buchholz had the last no-hitter last September before he was shut down for the season).

Two walks and a runner that reached on a fielder's choice meant that Lester's chance at a perfect game fell by the wayside in the top of the second with a walk to Billy Butler, which might not be the worst way to go about things.

If you're going to lose your bid for the perfect game, but keep the no-hitter intact, wouldn't you want to get that out of the way early, before the pressure really builds and dropping from the perfecto has a chance to rattle you late in the game?

Tuning in for the last few innings of the game tonight, I was mainly thinking about two things.

First, aside from the pressure of a perfect game, a no-hitter has to be more challenging for the pitcher, right? I can't imagine there's that much more to weigh down a pitcher's mind between the two, but adding the extra batters can't help much.

Let's assume that you are pitching in the usual no-hitter where one or two batters reach base, either by walk or error. Now, you're walking to the mound in the ninth inning, you're already way over your normal pitch count and you're faced with the other team's top two hitters.

The normal balance of power late in the game swings from a stronger reliever against a tiring hitter to a starter being held in against the other team's best hitters who have now seen you for three at-bats.

That's what I'll remember tomorrow morning, when I'm bombarded by the crush of stories about how special this must be for Lester, Boston's most famous cancer survivor.

Cancer or not, a no-hitter is a big deal, period. That's why this is only the 18th no-hitter in the long history of the Red Sox. Here is another site's break down of where this no-hitter fits in with all the rest, including Jason Varitek being the new leader in no-hitters caught, with four.

Thank God the young pitchers have figured out that it's best to listen to the Captain in these types of situations. We're looking at you, Curt Schilling. Wherever you are.

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