Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-5-20

5/20/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Top of the 1st
LESTER THROWS A NO-NO
Last night, Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals. The Sox won 7-0.

Here are 29 facts about the no-hitter (one for each batter Lester faced:

1. Lester struck out 9 and walked just two.
2. This is his first shutout and first career complete game.
3. First no-hitter by a Red Sox lefty since Mel Parnell on July 14, 1956.
4. At 24 years and 133 days, Lester is the youngest lefty to throw a no-hitter since the Cardinals’ Bud Smith no-hit the Padres on Sept. 3, 2001. Smith was 21 years and 315 days.
5. The Royals are batting .285 against lefties.
6. It was the 18th Red Sox no-hitter of all-time.
7. Lester threw 130 pitches, 4.5 per batter.
8. He threw 20 of 29 first-pitch strikes including 9 of the last 11 batters.
9. On 1-1 counts, Lester threw strikes 9-of-15 times.
10. Lester struck out Alberto Callaspo to end the game on a high and outside 1-2 fastball.
11. He only had two strikeouts through the first four innings.
12. Jason Veritek is the second catcher to catch four no hitters – Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholtz and now Lester. Ray Schalk of the White Sox also caught four.
13. Varitek said. “I didn’t really know he had a no-hitter until the eighth. I looked up in the seventh and saw that he was around 100 pitches, and he did his job. I glanced in the bullpen and saw nobody warming up, and thought that was weird. I looked back and saw. It was good.”
14. Boston’s last no-hitter was pitched by Clay Buchholz, against the Baltimore Orioles in just his second major league start last Sept. 1.
15. The no-hitters by Lester and Buchholz marks the first time pitchers on the same team have posted no-hitters in a span without a pitcher from another team doing it since Nolan Ryan tossed no-hitters for the Angels against the Twins on Sept. 28, 1974, and the Orioles on June 1, 1975.
16. Nolan Ryan is the only other pitcher to no-hit the Royals in their franchise history. Ryan was with the California Angels when he threw the first of his seven no-hitters on May 15, 1973, at Kauffman Stadium.
17. “Any time you’re in a class with Nolan Ryan, it’s pretty special,” said Lester. “He’s probably the greatest pitcher of all time. It’s unbelievable the longevity he had, seven no-hitters. It’s something that’s very special.”
18. The one great fielding play was a diving catch by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 4th. All the other plays were routine.
19. “I’m just thinking, `Go get it,'” Ellsbury said. “(Right fielder) J.D. (Drew), I knew he was backing me up on there, so in that situation I can lay out and go for it knowing that he’s going to back me up. And now I look back at it I’m really happy I made that catch.”
20. Lester’s record is now 3-2
21. Lester and Jonathan Papelbon combined to one-hit the Royals on July 18, 2006.

22. Manager Terry Francona, whose said graduated earlier in the day from Penn, said, “I feel like my son graduated and my son threw a no-hitter.”
23. Lester on Francona’s words to him after the game: “He just said he was proud of me,” Lester said. “I’ve been through a lot the past couple of years, and he’s been like a second dad to me, it’s just a special moment right there.”
24. “Jon has lived a full life at age 24 for what he’s endured, overcome and experienced,” pitching coach John Farrell told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. “And he has such a bright future. When you look at his attributes, both physically and mentally, you can envision him being a premium starter in the big leagues for a long, long time.”
25. On May 4, 1989, Rob Neyer reminds us, Farrell, pitching for the Cleveland Indians held the Royals without a hit for 8 1/3 innings.
26. Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma in August 2006 and he battled back from cancer last season.
27. Lester picked up the victory in Game 4 at Colorado to complete the Red Sox sweep in the 2007 World Series.
28. Lester was the centerpiece of the offseason trade talks to bring Johan Santana to Boston.
29. The Red Sox,Yankees, and Marlins have the most no-hitters since 1993 with four.

Top of the 2nd
PEAVY NEWS – NOT SO GOOD, NOT SO BAD
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy will go on the 15-day disabled list with swelling and a strained muscle in his pitching elbow. An MRI exam showed no ligament damage.

“When you do get discomfort in your elbow and it’s near the Tommy John ligament, you know what Tommy John means, and yeah there’s cause for concern,” Peavy said. He was referring to Tommy John surgery, or reconstructive surgery when a pitcher damages his ulnar collateral ligament.

Peavy (4-3, 2.91 ERA), has lost three of his last four decisions. He hasn’t pitched beyond the 6th in any of his last three starts, and lasted just four innings last Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

Top of the 3rd
JONES NEWS – NOT SO GOOD, NOT AS BAD AS HIS HITTING
Andruw Jones has a slight cartilage tear in his right knee, and the Dodgers will wait a few days to see if the center fielder will have to undergo surgery. Jones signed a two-year, $36.2 million contract with the Dodgers in the offseason but is hitting .167 with two home runs, seven RBIs and a .275 on-base percentage. He was hitless in 11 at-bats in the Dodgers’ interleague series against the Angels.

Top of the 4th
SOTO CONTINUES THE REPLAY ARGUMENT
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto hit an inside-the-park three-run homer in the 4th inning of Chicago’s 7-2 win over Houston despite replays showing that it should have been an automatic home run. The ball bounced just to the right of the yellow line on the wall in left-center field.

It was his first career inside-the-park homer and the first by a Cubs catcher since Cal Neeman did so on June 17, 1959. It was the first inside-the-park home run for a catcher since Joe Mauer of the Twins hit one against the Angels on July 21 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last National League catcher to achieve the feat was Kelly Stinnett for Arizona on Aug. 29, 2005.It’s the first one for the Cubs since Derrek Lee hit one on Aug. 26 and the third in Minute Maid Park history

Chicago has now won five of its last six games and nine of its last 11.

The Astros’ Lance Berkman had his 17-game hitting streak snapped and Hunter Pence his 16-game hitting streak stopped.

Top of the 5th
ADAM AND THE REDS – BOTH DUNN
Adam Dunn has now homered in five straight games.Last night he went deep against the Dodgers starter Brad Penny in the Reds 6-5 loss.

The five straight games with a homer are a career best for Dunn and tied a Reds team record done three previous times by Ken Griffey Jr. (July 8-12, 2003), Ted Kluszewski (Aug. 11-15, 1954) and Johnny Bench (May 30-June 3, 1972).

It was also Dunn’s eighth straight game of at least one RBI. For the season, Dunn has a team-high 11 homers and 29 RBIs.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Our site of the day includes video of Jon Lester’s reaction last night in his post-game news conference. Check out the ice packs pitchers put on after a game.

http://cbs.sportsline.com/video/player/play/mlb/mT_CmjaHndzbLUgybFzYmrADGqwjwmLz

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Royals (Gil Meche) at Red Sox (Justin Masterson), 7:05
Mariners (Carlos Silva) at Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:05
Orioles (Daniel Cabrera) at Yankees (Mike Mussina), 7:05
Angels (John Lackey) at Blue Jays (Roy Halladay), 7:07
Rangers (Doug Mathis) at Twins (Glen Perkins), 8:10
Indians (C.C. Sabathia) at White Sox (Jose Contreras), 8:11
Rays (Scott Kazmir) at A’s (Greg Smith), 10:05

NL
Mets (John Maine and Claudio Vargas) at Braves (Tom Glavine and Jorge Campillo), DH, 1:05 and 7:05
Brewers (Manny Parra) at Pirates (Paul Maholm) 7:05
Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Nationals (Jay Bergmann), 7:10
Diamondbacks (Micah Owings) at Marlins (Mark Hendrickson), 7:10
Cubs (Ryan Dempster) at Astros (Chris Sampson), 8:05
Giants (Tim Lincecum) at Rockies (Aaron Cook), 8:35
Cardinals (Joel Pineiro) at Padres (Greg Maddux), 10:05
Reds (Matt Belisle) at Dodgers (Chad Billingsley), 10:10

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Ryan Ludwick hit his 12th homer of the season last night in the Cardinals 8-2 victory over the Padres. Ludwick has hit his 12 in only 123 at bats this season. The four NL batters who have more than Ludwick, Lance Berkman (16 hrs – 167 ab), Chase Utley (14-177), Ryan Braun (13-182), and Dan Ugglia (13-158) have at least 35 more at bats than he does. The Marlins’ Mike Jacobs has 11 homers in 118 at-bats.

Top of the 9th
NOW IN CF, MO
Peter Abraham reports watching A-Rod in batting practice last week, hitting line drive after line drive off the outfield wall. Here’s Abraham’s description:

“On his last swing, he hit a liner that seemed destined to either hit the top of the wall in center or sneak over it. But at the last second, a teammate raced over, made a Spiderman leap to the top of the wall and caught the ball.

Rodriguez walked a few feet in front of the cage and flung his bat in mock disgust. “He did it again,” he said.

Who was that masked man? Johnny Damon? Melky Cabrera? The thief turned around and he had 42 on his back.

Mariano Rivera? The great closer loves to chase down fly balls to keep his legs in shape and delights in taking hits away from his teammates, particularly Rodriguez. It’s sort of a running competition between the two of them.

“Mo could play center in a game,” A-Rod told me as he walked into the clubhouse. “No question about it.””

Bottom of the 9th
THERE’S ONLY 26 DAYS UNTIL FATHER’S DAY
Show Dad where his memories rank among the greatest baseball moments of all time

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The greatest postseason finishes of all-time
The last moments of the most distinguished old stadiums
Heroic (and not-so-heroic) endings to Hall of Fame careers
Boxscores and linescores for some of the greatest games ever played
A slew of career statistics, ballpark data, and photographs
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.