Hi friends. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, May 19. Somebody in MLB should have thought of this. Following Spencer Turnbull’s no-hitter late last night, 5 9-inning no-hitters have been thrown, and the season isn’t two months old. As if that wasn’t bad enough, last night’s hero led the American League in losses a couple of years back with a mark of 3—17. Even with last night, his career record is just 10—25.
First, to last night’s game. This is the second time the Mariners have been no-hit this season, so it’s becoming old hat to them. John Means of the Orioles and the Tigers’ Turnbull have no-hit the Mariners in their own pitcher-friendly ball park. Turnbull took the hill following a warmup session that was nothing special. Up until this game, he had never gone more than 7 innings in any start. Before he was done, he’d struck out 9 men, walking just 2. Between finding his rhythm and facing poor opposition, 27 outs later he took home a piece of history.
Turnbull got his first taste of real opposition with the University of Alabama, where baseball is a poor relation compared to football. He learned enough facing SEC foes that the Tigers took him in the second round of the 2014 draft and had him in the bigs by the end of 2018.
Turnbull isn’t the first man to throw a no-hitter and lead his league in losses. Nolan Ryan threw a record 7 no-hitters in his amazing career, but led the league losing 18 games for the 1976 Angels. The Red Sox’ Dave Morehead led his league in losses in 1965 but threw in a no-no that same year. The Milwaukee Braves’ Jim Wilson threw a no-hitter against the Phillies in 1954, then led the American League in losses the next year with the Orioles.
I asked this question following John Means’ no-no in Seattle on May 5. When do you not cover a no-no? One Facebook writer this morning wrote “A no-hitter is just another boring game.” In Roger Whittaker’s song “The First Hello, the Last Goodbye,” one line says “gold would not be precious if we all had gold to spare.” So it can be with no-hitters in the future, if we’re not there now. 5 no-hitters on May 19 was only done once, in 1917 in the depths of the dead ball era. Now, instead of the ball being the issue, it’s the hitting approach batters have adopted over the last 5 years or so. Entirely too many atbats end in walks, strikeouts or home runs. When the term “launch angle” began to mean something to the hitters, it was the first step toward where baseball is today. I’m frightened that so many no-hitters will be pitched in 2021 that their value will go low enough that themes like this one won’t be written. Spencer Turnbull, for all his struggles in the past, deserves his share of glory now. However, if too many pitchers pitch no-hitters, there won’t be glory for any of them-the Turnbulls or the Jacob DeGroms alike.0