Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Curious Case of the Padres No-Hitter
Mat Latos was dealing last night. No other way to say it.
He was dealing so much, that for a moment, brief though it may have been, a familiar thought creeped through the minds of Padres fans.
"Is tonight the night?"
It wasn't, again. No no-hitter for the Padres. But for 5 innings last night, Latos was throwing as well as any Padres pitcher has this year. He was no-hitting the Cubs (a perfect game in fact until a walk in the 5th).
Then a triple by Coleman (the opposing pitcher of all people!) and that was that. You might ask yourself, "isn't the 5th inning a little early to talk no-hitter?" And you'd be right. It is. But so it goes for a franchise and a fan base that has been deprived such a feat for their entire existence. 42 seasons, 0 no-hitters.
Since the Padres inaugural Major League season of 1969, there have been 104 no-hitters. That's 3.5 no-hitters per current Major League team (yes, I realize the math isn't perfect as their has been expansion since 1969, but the point remains the same). Yet, never once, have the stars aligned and the ball bounced right and we get to see a Padres catcher hoist a pitcher in celebration of a no-hitter.
Not that the Padres haven't been close.
Twice the Padres have been one out away, though even that stat requires an asterisk. The two:
July 18, 1972 Padres vs Phillies. Steve Arlin held the Phillies hitless with 2 outs in the 9th inning before Tom Hutton, a career .248 hitter, singled to break up not only the no-hitter but also the shutout. The Padres went on to win 5-1.
July 9, 2011 Padres vs Dodgers. Aaron Harang went 6 strong innings but was pulled after 95 pitches. The Padres bullpen of Spence, Qualls and Adams kept the Dodgers scoreless, and hitless, into the 9th inning before Gregerson gave up a double to Uribe and the game-winning single to Navarro. The problem here? The Padres were shutout through 9. Which created the nearly untenable possibility for those of us desperate for a no-hitter of having the Padres pitch 9 hitless innings, and then have it blown in extras due to a lack of offense.
It seems impossible that the Padres could exist for as long as they have without accomplishing this feat. It's more impossible when I think of the pitchers that have pitched for San Diego (Randy Jones, Andy Benes, Andy Ashby, Jake Peavy).
But I know one day it's coming. Until then, anytime a Padres pitcher gets into the 5th without giving up a run, I'll think myself "is tonight the night?"
And one of these days, it will be.
One day. One day.