Four Dodgers No-Hit Padres; Pujols Reaches 3000
May 7, 2018

The word “history” is thrown around a lot in the world of sports. If something amazing happens, they say it will go down in history. Certainly if something happens that never happened before, it's historical. If something happens that has happened before but not very often, that's up for debate. You can say, though, that the two Major League Baseball teams that represent Los Angeles, made it into the sports history books Friday night.

You can decide which is the bigger deal, but, in fact, they are both deals. The Los Angeles Dodgers did not allow a hit in their 4-0 win over the San Diego Padres in Monterrey, Mexico. During that game, a couple thousand miles to the northwest, Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels blooped one into right field for the 3000th hit of his career. There have been no-hitters before, but they are not common. Guys have gotten 3000 hits before, but only (now) 32 of them.

Let's look at the no-no. This could be the year of the no-hitter. Sean Manaea of Oakland has already thrown one. With the cold weather back east in April, there were several occasions of a no-hitter being taken into the seventh or eighth inning. People are becoming blasé about them. A few of my co-workers (who are actually baseball fans) didn't even know about it. The Dodgers lead the world in no-hitters. This was the 23rd in their history, and the first since Clayton Kershaw did it to the Dodgers in Los Angeles in 2014. The Padres got no-hit for the tenth time in their history (there's that word again), which goes back to 1969. No team has been no-hit more than the Padres in that time, and to add insult to injury, the Padres are the only current MLB franchise that has never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter. Ouch.

So what's so historic about this no-hitter? A couple of things. First of all, it was a combined no-hitter. There have only been 12 of those in Major League history (although with pitch counts and other limitations on pitchers these days, there could be many more in the years to come). Twelve still isn't the top of the charts, but there are two firsts. This was the first no-hitter ever outside of the United States or Canada (there have been regular season Major League games played in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan), and even though the Dodgers have more no-hitters than any other team, they never had a combined no-hitter until Walker Buehler (6 innings), Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore (one inning each) did it on Friday. That's a big deal, even though four pitchers you may have never heard of isn't any kind of record.

So what about Pujols? We mentioned earlier that Pujols is the 32nd player to reach the magical 3000 hit level. The last guy to make it to 3000 hits was Adrian Beltre, and he did it just last year. Pujols (although 2073 of those hits came as a St. Louis Cardinal) isn't even the first Angel to do it. Rod Carew (2085 hits with the Minnesota Twins) reached the mountaintop in his final season in 1985. Both Pujols and Carew did it in their seventh season in an Angel uniform. But any time a player reaches that mark, it's special. It's also likely that we may not see that number reached again for awhile.

Next on the active hit list is Miguel Cabrera with 2666. Next are Robinson Cano with 2410, and Jose Reyes with an even 2100. All three of those players are 35 years old. Cabrera is currently on the Disabled List, but he could still reach the mark maybe late next year or early 2020 if healthy and productive. Cano can hit, but if he stays healthy, you are looking at 2021 or 2022 at the earliest. Evan Longoria (32 years old), Justin Upton (30), and Andrew McCutchen (31) are all around the 1500 hit mark, just half way there. A lot of people think Mike Trout can do it. He's only 26, and has broken the thousand-hit mark, but at 150 hits per year (which is pretty good), you're looking at about the year 2030. We might even have a bullet train in California by then, or flying cars.

So Pujols isn't at the top of the list, but what he has done is special. He's also the fourth player with 3000 hits and 600 home runs, joining Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez* (*-steroid user). He's also the sixth player born outside of the USA (Dominican Republic) to make the list, including Ichiro Suzuki (Japan), Carew (Panama), and Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico).

So maybe the word “history” is over-used in sports, but at least it would be fair to say that Friday night was up there on the list of historical nights in the sport's history. Some of us remember June 29, 1990. Dave Stewart pitched a no-hitter in Toronto, and then Fernando Valenzuela completed one of his own about three hours later in Los Angeles. May 1, 1991 was a pretty good one, too. Nolan Ryan threw his record seventh and final no-hitter on the same day that Rickey Henderson became the all-time stolen base leader. A lot of history there. You can decide which is the biggest deal.

A footnote in history: Friday May 4, 2018 in baseball will always be remembered for Pujols and 3000 hits, and the Dodger no-hitter, but Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole lost a no-hitter in the fifth inning on a double by Chris Owings, but it was the only hit he gave up, and he struck out 16 batters in the 8-0 blanking of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cole's catcher was Yuba City's Max Stassi.

All (Star?) team?: Whether it be a real team or a fantasy team, how would you like to have a starting rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Jacob deGrom, and Yu Darvish? All went on the disabled list this week.

Mother's Day sorrow: During the off-season, the St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland, in major part so the Pleasanton native could be around, and help take care of his ailing mother. We learned today that Gretchen Piscotty passed away last night after a year-long battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Mrs. Piscotty was 55.

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