If you are a baseball fan, how cool is it to watch two no-hitters on television in a span of ten days? It's pretty awesome unless your favorite team is on the losing end of both of them. Even though there are a handful of them a year, no-hitters are considered history, but going without a hit twice in a week and a half is something that hasn't happened since 1923. Talk about historical.
What's bizarre, though, is the team with the offensive ineptitude in each of those contests is in first place. Even though they are mostly known for pitching, they lead their league in home runs. Upon further examination, though, they are next to last in the National League in total hits. So it is to be a Los Angeles Dodgers fan.
The first no-no, on August 21 in Houston, was thrown by a guy named Mike Fiers (pronounced “fires”). He's been an okay pitcher, gets a lot of strikeouts, but has never been a guy that you would think would have a night like he did a week ago Friday. With the Dodgers coughing up their previous two games in Oakland, and the bullpen coming apart, Fiers' no-hitter was like a train wreck. It was bad for the Dodgers but you had to watch, and how could you not root for the guy?
The next one was a little different. Jake Arrieta of the Cubs is a stud. He is second in the NL in earned run average (between Dodgers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw) and is fourth in the league in strikeouts. He had never thrown a no-hitter but was certainly capable of it every time out there. As a fan, you wanted to see it, but against the Dodgers? Again? That made it tougher.
By the ninth inning, I was rooting for it. In the seventh and eighth, not so much (Arrieta is on my fantasy team, by the way, but being the last game of the week, his 0.00 ERA, 0.11 WHIP, and 12 strikeouts didn't affect the outcome of my week. His nine innings helped, though). Arrieta is rapidly becoming one of the top pitchers in the game, and a no-hitter is always awesome to watch. It's just too bad it wasn't against, I don't know, the Giants?
Split decision: As an official scorer (for the Gold Sox) myself, the ball hit by Kike Hernandez in the third inning had to be ruled an error. The one-hopper ate up Cubs second baseman Starlin Castro, and many believed at the time it should have been ruled a hit. There's kind of an unwritten rule that the first hit of the game should be a clean hit, just in case a play that could be ruled either way is the only hit of the game. Even Arrieta said after the game, that he thought that play was a hit, but would you want something like that to cost a no-hitter? The official scorer doesn't either, and to tell you the truth, was probably hoping for another clean hit later on, so that no one would ever have to talk about it.
And he'll be back: It's mixed news, but still much on the positive side that Vin Scully will be back with the Dodgers next season. Although nothing with Scully is ever definite, the down side is that next year may likely be his last. Scully said in a news conference and then re-iterated in a Dodger pregame show interview Saturday that he was raised to believe that talking about the future would only “make the devil laugh.” Scully also said in another article that he was never afraid of getting older, but of getting old, indicating that maybe retirement wouldn't agree with him. At least the living legend will be back for his 67th season with the Dodgers, and the team and family can perhaps work on him for number 68. Scully will be 88 in November.
The Mendoza line: Two-time Olympic softball medalist Jessica Mendoza became the first woman in an ESPN Sunday night broadcast booth, and her very first game was Arrieta's no-hitter. It was not her first trip to the booth, though. She also called Monday night's St. Louis-Arizona game. Mendoza has been visible on the network, mostly in studio for Baseball Tonight.
Schilling suspended: While the name Curt Schilling was never mentioned during the Sunday night broadcast, Mendoza was filling in for the outspoken former pitcher because Schilling was suspended by the network. Schilling posted, and then quickly deleted, a tweet that compared Muslims to Nazis. The tweet was a picture of Hitler and the caption “It's said only 5-10 percent of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7 percent of Germans were Nazis. How'd that go?” Schilling was pulled from ESPN's Little League World Series coverage and did not work the Cubs-Dodgers game. Schilling apologized on Twitter saying “I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.” ESPN has not said when or if Schilling will be back.
September can't wait: Yuba City native Max Stassi is back in the big leagues. He was called up Saturday by the Houston Astros after catcher Jason Castro went on the disabled list. The team said Stassi would have joined the Astros this week anyway when rosters expand tomorrow. Stassi was hitting just .211 at Triple-A Fresno, but with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. Former Gold Sox hurler Cody Anderson will start for the Cleveland Indians tomorrow, getting a September call-up after pitching in nine games earlier this season.