So the Phillies nearly were no-hit again on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. This time it was Hiroki Kuroda who flirted with blanking the Phillies until Shane Victorino came through with a solid single to right field with one out in the eighth inning.
For those scoring at home, there have been 19 one-hitters in the big leagues this season and the Phillies were involved in four of them. There also have been five no-hitters—excluding the no-so perfect game from Armando Galarraga—the most since 1991 when there were seven no-hitters, which was the dawn of the so-called steroid era.
Can the level field between pitching and hitting be as simple as improved drug testing?
That's a question that will be answered in time. For now, however, we have to figure what can we make of this and why the pitching has caught up to hitting.
Either way, there is a rebirth of extraordinary well-pitched games. Of the 20 perfect games (21 if you count Galarraga), three of them (four if you count… you know) have come since July of 2009. That’s 15 percent of all the perfect games in history happening within a 10-month span.
It also means that after being one-hit three times this season, the Phillies are about due for the ol’ no-no…
Well, yes and no. Historically, no-hitters have existed in a vacuum. There were no hints or warnings that they were going to happen. For instance, before the White Sox’s Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game against the Rays in July of 2009, there was no event that gave off a warning sign that it was about to happen. In fact, before the perfect game, the Rays had won four of six and were 5 games off the pace in the AL East. If there were candidates of teams to be no-hit, the Rays were hardly at the top of the list.
But since that perfect game, the Rays have been involved in three no-hitters. One of those was a perfect game by Dallas Braden in Oakland, followed by an eight-walk, 149-pitch no-no in Arizona by Edwin Jackson.
Despite the fact that the Rays (81-50) are tied for the best record in baseball with the Yankees, they also have been one-hit twice and two-hit twice this season. In fact, the Rays have been two-hit, one-hit or no-hit at least once every month this season. With September to start on Wednesday, the Rays are due again.
It appears as if the Phillies are in the same boat as the Rays only without the perfect game out in front. Since April 16, 1978 when the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch threw a no-hitter against the Phillies, the team has not been beaten by an official no-hitter. Yes, there was the rain-shortened, five-inning no-no by the Expos’ Pascual Perez in late 1988, but that doesn’t count in the official records.
Better yet, the Phillies have been so resistant to extraordinary pitching that since Forsch threw his no-hitter, they had been victims of a one-hitter just 11 times heading into this season. Yes, that’s just 11 one-hitters in 31 seasons.
So clearly the Phillies are making up for lost time. This season they have been one-hit three times (Daisuke Matsusaka, R.A. Dickey, Kuroda) which is the exact number of times the Phillies had been one-hit since 1994. Plus, if we figure that the Rays were coming off a season in which they got to the World Series and had only been one-hit or no-hit four times in their entire existence (going back to 1998), the Phillies are ripe for the taking.
Then again, who knows with these things. Before 1978 it seemed like the Phillies were the easiest team to throw a no-hitter against. From 1960 to 1972, the Phillies came up on the zero end of things in the hits category eight times, including two in the same season (1960) to the Milwaukee Braves. Meanwhile, in the World Series era, Philadelphia pitchers have tossed just 13 no-hitters, with eight of those coming from Phillies pitchers.
Perhaps the only thing we’ve been able to determine through all of this is no-hitters and Philadelphia don’t go together all that well. Adding in the fact that the New York Mets have not had a single no-hitter in their history and the Dodgers have had 20, these are events that occur totally at random.
And with a lot of luck.