I remember Len Barker’s perfect game. That is to say, I remember my dad turning the television channel to the Indians game in the eighth or ninth inning of that game. I was 8.
There hasn’t been a no-hitter by an Indian pitcher since May 15th, 1981.
Through all the dominant months and years of those exciting 90′s Indians, and the back-to-back Cy Young winners of the 2000′s, there was never a no-hitter. I really, really would like to see one again. It isn’t a championship. It is one night of dominance. One night of making history.
I tend not to get really worked up anymore about perfect games or no-hitters until after the fifth inning.
Scott Kazmir was dominant through five innings. He was perfect into the fifth, before a four pitch walk to Wieters. It was just a blip on the radar that inning. Kazmir got out of the fifth and continued mowing down batters in the sixth. A fly out. A routine grounder to short.
Could this be it? Could we be watching a bit of Tribe history?
Nick Markakis strikes out on a nasty pitch up and inside. Nine outs. Nine outs away from a no-hitter.
I spend the commercial break and a good part of the Indians’ half of the inning explaining the significance of a no-hitter to my daughter. My eight year old daughter. I want her to watch this with me.
Kazmir gives up a double down the line to the first batter in the seventh. It was a decent pitch, but a good swing. Lonnie Chisenhall made a diving attempt, but he was no where near grabbing it. A batter later the Indians give a gift to the Orioles when Cabrera botched a pick-off attempt which allowed Machado to move to third. He would score on a sac fly. No-hitter and shut-out both gone in a five minute stretch.
But Kazmir was fantastic. He was inside and outside, painting both sides of the plate. He was varying speeds. Seven innings pitched, and he only threw 78 pitches, 56 of them for strikes. One unearned run allowed, one hit allowed. One walk and four strikeouts. Then something really strange happened.
Kazmir came out for the eighth inning and threw his warm-up pitches. The last of which was a beautiful braking ball by the way, and suddenly Francona came to the mound with the team trainer and pulled Kazmir.
Kazmir was replaced by Joe Smith, and the wheels came off the bus.
Nick Swisher couldn’t handle a Chisenhall throw from deep in the hole at third. It gave the Orioles an extra out, and they would take advantage in the eighth. Three hits and a walk in the inning gave the Orioles a pair of runs, putting Baltimore ahead 3-2.
If you are wondering where the discussion is of the Indians’ offense, well Kipnis hit a 2 run homer in the fourth. That was about it until the ninth. Baltimore’s Jason Hammel pitched seven strong innings. The Indians struck out five times against Hammel, and left five on base.
In the ninth, Brantley drew a four pitch walk, and then Jason Giambi hit a double off the wall that just missed being a home run. Brantley went to third on the hit. Carlos Santana pinch hit for Gomes, and was intentionally walked setting up a bases loaded, no out situation for Lonnie Chisenhall. He hit a ground ball to second that the Orioles just couldn’t turn two on. Brantley scored to tie the game at three.
With one out and men on first and third Drew Stubbs hit a ground ball to third. Instead of going home with the ball, Machado tried to turn the double play. Not a good decision with Stubbs running. He beat the throw to first, and the Indians had taken back the lead. That’s right, the Indians scored a pair of runs in the ninth off fielder’s choices.
Here’s your stat of the day, after 258 plate appearances this season Drew Stubbs has still not hit into a double play. He’s the only qualifying player without a GIDP.
The game was Vinnie Pestano’s to save.
First up- Chris ’28 home runs’ Davis. Here’s your pitch sequence- slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, fastball and slider. Struck him out. A good looking start to the inning.
Next up Matt Wieters. Against Vinnie, Wieters is 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. Make that 0-4. Kipnis gets a nice wake-up call with a line drive right beside him. Two down.
J.J. Hardy worked the count full. Then Pestano blew a fastball by him. Ballgame.
With the win and a Detroit loss, the Indians are just 2.5 games behind.
This is the kind of game that the Indians would have lost last year. Obviously they aren’t winning them all this season, but an ugly win is still a win, and it earned at least a split of this four game series.
After the game, Terry Francona said that Kazmir was having back spasms from the 5th inning on, and that is why he was pulled. He said it looked like Kazmir was struggling in his warm-ups.