06 September 2008

Mariners Brandon Morrow's Near No-Hitter Against the Yankees

A few notes on a Saturday morning before the wife and I go to register for "baby stuff"...

I got home from dinner at a friend's house last night to discover that the Yankees-Mariners game in Seattle was only in the 5th inning. I was exhausted and had planned to go right to bed. Until I saw it:

That was the number in the "H" column of the box score on ESPN.com. No hits through four and a third innings. Not a huge deal, since there was plenty of baseball left to play, but still, no hits yet, and this against a rookie pitcher making his first career start.

Granted, the win or loss hardly mattered at this point. The Yankees' season is toast already, but no-hitters are embarassing, especially against a rookie pitcher on a last-place team.

So naturally, I had to put the game on. I brought it up on MLB.tv, which has not given me any trouble since I complained to the Powers that (ML)Be back in the spring, and I watched. Hoping that Brandon Morrow would not pull a Bobo Holloman on us, I kept watching to see if history would be made. (Actually, pulling a Bobo might not be such a bad thing for the rest of the league, as Holloman only won two other games his whole career, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.) Hideki Matsui walked with two out in the 5th, but Robbie Cano grounded out to end the threat.
In the sixth inning, Jose Molina and his powerless, impatient .220 batting average were inexplicably allowed to bat again, and predictably failed, but to be fair his successors in the lineup, Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter, did no better.

Six no-hit innings.

More of the same in the seventh, with Abreu, A-Rod and the Giambi-no continuing the come up short.

Giambi-No-No. Seven no-hit innings.

In the eighth, Xavier "Feast or Famine" Nady whiffed, but Matsui drew another walk, giving us a little hope. Cano put a charge into an 82 mph change up but he hit it to the deepest part of the park, where it was caught for the second out.

Finally, though, Molina was taken out for pinch hitter Wilson Betemit (Bermanism: Wilson "Bet-a-Me Than You"), who quickly got himself into a 1-2 hole, missing a change-up and watching a fastball paint the inside corner for strike two.

The announcers mentioned that Betemit had not even seen Morrow's best strikeout pitch, his curveball, so naturally, it made the most sense for Morrow to throw his best pitch in that situation. I expected it. The announcers expected it. Apparently Betemit expected it, too, because he hit it for a clean double into right center field and score a run for the Yankees.

It would prove to be their only run, though a 9th inning leadoff single by Jeter prevented Betemit's efforts from comprising their only hit.

Fifty years from now, the box score will never be able to relate the tension that came with this game, how close (4 outs away!) the already pathetic Yankees came to the shame of being no-hit by a rookie making his first start in the majors.

Disaster averted. We now return you to your regularly scheduled disappointing season.

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