Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Top of the 1st
“There was a little bit of a pop,” the Yankees’ Phil Hughes told the New York Times. It could have been a moment when he described the metaphorical balloon bursting as he attempted to throw a no-hitter in his second major league start last night against the Texas Rangers. But it wasn’t. It was the pop he heard, the pop we saw, as he grabbed his hamstring on an 0-2 pitch to Mark Texeira with one out in the 7th inning.
That metaphorical balloon never had a chance to pop. Hughes left the game, injured, his no-hitter still intact. Mike Myers gave up a pair of Texas hits in the 8th as NY won 10-1.
That hamstring injury will put Hughes on the DL for 4-6 weeks. I’m sure this is worse than how Jorge De Paula felt. On September 26, 2003, De Paula was making his first start of his career (he only made two in his career) pitching for the Yankees and he was masterful facing the Orioles in the second game of a doubleheader. In fact, he retired the first 16 batters he faced before Jack Cust drew a walk with one down in the 5th. That no-no remained intact until pop! Larry Bigbie grounded a single to centerfield with one out in the 7th, the same moment Hughes felt his pop. Poor DePaula, at least Hughes got the victory. DePaula left the game with a 2-0 lead after giving up the hit only to see the bullpen blow the lead in the 8th and lose the game in the 10th. To this point, he’s still looking for his first big league win.
It wasn’t until 9th inning for Toronto’s Roy Halladay until he heard the pop! Halladay was making his second major league appearance and his first major league start on September 27, 1998 against the Detroit Tigers. He hadn’t allowed a baserunner until the top of the 5th that evening when Tony Clark reached on an error by second baseman Felipe Crespo to become the first baserunner. Pop!, went the perfect game.
And that’s how it stayed Tiger batters coming up, Tigers batters going down. Eight strikeouts, no walks, an error away from perfection. Every moment, every out became larger and larger as the game wore on. The pressure for pitchers is enormous in the 9th and then starts growing and growing with each out. With two outs Bobby Higginson pinch hit for the unforgettable Kimera Bartee. Higginson hits a long fly ball to deep left field, that ball is going, going, it’s…pop! There went Halliday’s no-hitter and shutout, but at least when he retired Frank Catalanotto, he was able to secure his first major league win.
Halliday has gone on to be a great pitcher, proving how much a good start can tell you. Or does it?
In 1953, Bobo Holloman, a 28-year old rookie was making his first major league start for the St. Louis Browns. The Brownies were not a good team (they finished the season 54-100 and drew all of 297,238 fans to St. Louis’ Sportsman Park) and Holloman was not a good pitcher. He was ineffective pitching four times in relief (ten hits, five earned runs in 5