April 13: Toronto Blue Jays 4, Chicago White Sox 2
Unheralded lefty Ricky Romero shut down the White Sox for seven innings
and seemed unhittable. Just six outs from completing the first
no-hitter in Blue Jays' history, Romero hung a changeup to former
teammate Alex Rios, who smashed a home run to end the no-hitter, the
shutout, and a fan base's dream finally celebrating a no-no. Rios'
homer was Chicago's only hit of the game, as the center fielder
extracted a small measure of revenge on the team that unceremoniously
cut him last summer.
April 21: Yankees 3, Oakland Athletics 1
Same uniform, different number. Phil Hughes followed in Sabathia's
footsteps and became the second Yankee in two weeks to take a no-hitter
into the eighth inning. This time, the fateful hit came right under
Hughes' nose--literally. After a ground ball from Oakland's Eric Chavez
ricocheted off Hughes' forearm and bounced back toward home plate, the
young pitcher searched vainly for the ball as it lay three feet in
front of him. By the time Hughes realized his mistake, Chavez was on
first base with a single, and the no-hitter was over. After the game, a
frustrated Hughes lamented: "To have it end that way is kind of a
LEVEL 2: ENDURINGLY GREAT
A.k.a. the "transcendent performances" section...
April 17: Colorado Rockies 4, Atlanta Braves 0
Sabathia, Romero and Hughes joined a cast of thousands who have flirted
with a no-hitter. Ubaldo Jimenez entered a far more select group when
he actually finished one off. The Colorado flamethrower overpowered the
Braves' lineup on his way to the first no-no in Rockies history. Even
avid baseball fans might be thinking: Ubaldo who? But the performance
by the 26-year old from the Dominican Republic was no fluke; Jimenez is
4-0 with an 0.95 ERA so far this season.
April 22: Milwaukee Brewers 20, Pittsburgh Pirates 0
Getting swept is never good. Getting swept by a combined score of 36-1
over three games is humiliating. But getting swept 36-1 and losing the
final game by 20 runs pushes the boundaries of the English language.
Milwaukee pounded out 25 hits and four home runs, destroying one
Pittsburgh pitcher after another in the most lopsided loss in the
Pirate's 124-year history. Tarnishing the Brewers' win was their
decision to bring in closer Trevor Hoffman in the final inning. I don't
care that Hoffman has struggled this season and Brewers wanted to get
him some low-pressure action. When you bring in baseball's all-time
save leader to close out a 20-0 game, it's gamesmanship, pure and
LEVEL 3: SUBLIME
As in "unforgettable to those who watched"
April 17: New York Mets 2, St. Louis Cardinals 1 (20 innings)
After 18 innings--the equivalent of two full games--neither team had
scored a run. In a perfect storm of quality pitching and abysmal
hitting, the Mets and Cardinals were locked in a literal zero-sum game,
stranding a combined 36 runners on base as the contest wore on. After
seventeen innings and almost six hours, the Cardinals were out of
pitchers, so they turned to shortstop Felipe Lopez, who shut down the
Mets in the 18th and proved that on this night, any yeoman could
succeed on the mound.