Perfection Celebrated

1. Dallas Braden is Perfect

Here’s the line that pitchers dream about:

9 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

Braden and his grandmother

Who knows what will happen next for Oakland’s Dallas Braden (4-2) who now has a career 18-23 record, but whatever happens next, he will always be able to say he pitched the 18th perfect game in modern regular season Major League Baseball history (19th overall).

Asked if he’d even thrown a no-hitter before at any level, Braden told assembled reporters, “In Little League, I had a couple under my belt. And in the bullpen, I’m damn near perfect every day.”

In defeating baseball’s best team, the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0, Braden repeated a feat last performed by the A’s Catfish Hunter on May 8, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins. It was Braden’s 53rd start and his first complete game. It was the sixth no-no in Athletics history, the first since Dave Stewart on June 29, 1990, at Toronto.

The Rays lost for just the third time on the road this year and it was the third time in team history that a no-hitter was tossed against them. There were no near misses or close plays in the victory. Braden threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 27 hitters. He went to three-ball counts only four times, including the last batter.

This was the first perfecto since Mark Buehrle did it for the White Sox against the Rays on July 23, and the second no-hitter this season after Ubaldo Jimenez accomplished it in Atlanta on April 17.

The fact that the feat was accomplished on Mother’s Day as MLB was raising awareness about breast cancer should not be minimized as Braden’s mother, Jodie Atwood, died of skin cancer in 2001 “It hasn’t been a joyous day for me in a while,” said Braden, 26, who lost his mom when he was a senior in high school. “But to know that I still get to come out and compete and play a game on that day, that makes it a little better. With my grandma in the stands, that makes it a lot better. And to be able to give her this today, it’s perfect.”

27 up, 27 down

1. Bartlett lined out to third

2. Crawford grounded out to first

3. Zobrist flied out to center

4. Longoria flied out to center

5. Peña grounded out to first

6. Upton struck out looking

7. Aybar struck out looking

8. Navarro lined out to center

9. Kapler flied out to left

10. Bartlett grounded out to third

11. Crawford struck out swinging

12. Zobrist grounded out to short

13. Longoria struck out swinging

14. Peña flied out to left

15. Upton grounded out to third

16. Aybar struck out swinging

17. Navarro fouled out to third

18. Kapler fouled out to third

19. Bartlett lined out to left

20. Crawford grounded out to second

21. Zobrist flied out to right

22. Longoria flied out to center

23. Peña fouled out to third

24. Upton struck out swinging

25. Aybar lined out to first

26. Navarro lined out to left

27. Kapler grounded out to short

2. Perfect Games

Modern Era:

The Masons Lodge of Perfection which must have something to do with Perry Mason winning every case

Pitcher, Team Opponent Score Date
Cy Young, Red Sox Athletics 3-0 May 5, 1904
Addie Joss, Indians White Sox 1-0 Oct. 2, 1908
Charles Robertson, White Sox Tigers 2-0 April 30, 1922
x-Don Larsen, Yankees Dodgers 2-0 Oct. 8, 1956
Jim Bunning, Phillies Mets 6-0 June 21, 1964
Sandy Koufax, Dodgers Cubs 1-0 Sept. 9, 1965
Catfish Hunter, Athletics Twins 4-0 May 8, 1968
Len Barker, Indians Blue Jays 3-0 May 15, 1981
Mike Witt, Angels Rangers 1-0 Sept. 30, 1984
Tom Browning, Reds Dodgers 1-0 Sept. 16, 1988
Dennis Martinez, Expos Dodgers 2-0 July 28, 1991
Kenny Rogers, Rangers Angels 4-0 July 28, 1994
David Wells, Yankees Twins 4-0 May 17, 1998
David Cone, Yankees Expos 6-0 July 18, 1999
Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks Braves 2-0 May 18, 2004
Mark Buehrle, White Sox Rays 5-0 July 23, 2009
Dallas Braden, Athletics Rays 4-0 May 9, 2010
x-World Series; Source: The Associated Press

John Ward, Providence vs. Buffalo, 5-0, June 17, 1880

John Richmond, Worcester vs. Cleveland, 1-0, June 12, 1880

A’s no-hitters

Oakland

May 10, 2010, Dallas Braden vs. Tampa Bay, 4-0-x

June 29, 1990, Dave Stewart at Toronto, 5-0

Sept. 29, 1983, Mike Warren vs. Chicago, 3-0

Sept. 28, 1975, Vida Blue (5 innings), Glenn Abbott (1), Paul Lindblad (1) and Rollie Fingers (2) vs. California, 5-0

Sept. 21, 1970, Vida Blue vs. Minnesota, 6-0

May 8, 1968, Catfish Hunter vs. Minnesota, 4-0-x

Philadelphia

Sept. 3, 1947, Bill McCahan vs. Washington, 3-0

Sept. 9, 1945, Dick Fowler vs. St. Louis, 1-0

Aug. 26, 1916, Joe Bush vs. Cleveland, 5-0

May 12, 1910, Charles Bender vs. Cleveland, 4-0

July 22, 1905, Weldon Henley at St. Louis, 6-0

No-hitters vs. Tampa Bay Rays

May 9, 2010, Dallas Braden, A’s, 4-0-x

July 23, 2009, Mark Buehrle, White Sox, 5-0-x

April 27, 2002, Derek Lowe, Red Sox, 10-0

x – perfect game

Associated Press

3. Tyler Clippard is Perfect too, in a different way

Another vulture win for Clippard

No, Tyler Clippard did not throw a perfect game yesterday but he did join Ubaldo Jimenez and Roy Halladay as the only six-game winners in baseball and only Clippard is a perfect 6-0. Clippard picked up another vulture win yesterday as Josh Willingham homered off Clay Hensley (1-1) in the 8th inning as the Nationals topped the Marlins, 3-2. Jorge Cantu had tied the game in the top of the inning with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Clippard.

The Nationals picked up their sixth series victory, something they didn’t accomplish last season until July 22. Nationals’ starter Livan Hernandez ERA rose to 1.04 after seven innings of one-run ball. Clippard (6-0) has two more victories than any Washington starter. Matt Capps got the final three outs for his major league-leading 13th save.

Hanley Ramirez homered for the Marlins, who have lost five of six. Florida still has no homers from a left-handed hitter.

4. So is Leake

Remember your first job after college?

Last season, Mike Leake was pitching for the Arizona State Sun Devils and, without a game in the minors, this season joined the Cincinnati Reds and after they beat the Cubs yesterday 5-3, Leake is 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA

Joey Votto hit a three-run homer in the 7th to secure the win.

Here are some highlights from Leake’s 2009 Junior season at ASU:

  • Named the National Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and National Pitcher of the Year
  • Named the Academic All-American of the Year
  • Won the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year award for the second straight season, becoming the first ever back-to-back winner and fourth two-time winner
  • Unanimous First Team All-American
  • Finished the year as the nation’s win leader with a 16-1 record
  • Led the Pac-10 with a 1.71 ERA, 142 innings pitched and 162 strike outs
  • Opponents hit .193 against him, second lowest in the Pac-10
  • Threw seven complete games, including two straight shutouts
  • His 40 career wins is second most in school history in the aluminum bat era and tied for the third most ever and tied for the most ever wins in school history by a three-year pitcher

5. Rangers Perfect

David Murphy had three hits and drove in two runs and the Rangers were perfect in their weekend endeavors with the Royals, defeating them yesterday 6-4 to complete a four-game sweep. Doug Mathis (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory and Neftali Feliz got his third save in the series and ninth in 10 chances overall.

The Rangers won for the 10th time in 13 games.

6. Milwaukee is perfect too

Maybe it was my appearance last week with Justin Hull, the host of “The Home Stretch” weekday afternoons from 2-5 on Appleton (WI) Sports Radio AM 1570/95.3 the Score as we talked about the Brewers, then again maybe not. But whatever it is, something worked as Milwaukee got homers from Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee and Gregg Zaun and the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks 6-1 to complete a three-game sweep.

Ian Kennedy (2-2) failed in his bid for a third straight victory as the Brewers won for the fifth time in six games. It must have been me.

7. Red Sox Happily Imperfect

Willie Tyler and Lester should not be confused with Tyler Clippard and Jon Lester

The Red Sox defeated the Yankees last night 9-3 preventing the Yankees from taking three straight and stopping an odd series of Red Sox sweeps. Jon Lester proved to be the Red Sox answer as he is now 3-0 with 30 strikeouts and a 0.98 ERA in his last four starts, lowering his ERA from 8.44 to 3.71. Last season, he had a 6.51 ERA through eight starts and finished at 3.41. Lester has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts and allowed just three earned runs in his last 27.2 innings.

Prior to last night’s victory, the Red Sox were involved in three straight series sweeps, oddly on the winning end for two of them:

Mon, Apr 26 @ Toronto W 13-12
Tue, Apr 27 @ Toronto W 2-1
Wed, Apr 28 @ Toronto W 2-0
Fri, Apr 30 @ Baltimore L 5-4 in 10
Sat, May 1 @ Baltimore L 12-9
Sun, May 2 @ Baltimore L 3-2 in 10
Mon, May 3 LA Angels W 17-8
Tue, May 4 LA Angels W 5-1
Wed, May 5 LA Angels W 3-1
Thu, May 6 LA Angels W 11-6
Fri, May 7 NY Yankees L 10-3
Sat, May 8 NY Yankees L 14-3
Sun, May 9 NY Yankees W 9-3

A.J. Burnett (4-1) continues to be vexed at Fenway. Last night he lasted 4.1 innings and gave up nine runs, matching his career high, also set in Boston last Aug. 22. He’s the first opposing pitcher since 1952 to give up eight runs or more in three different games at Fenway.

Alex Rodriguez tied Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for seventh place with 586 career homers with his third homer of the season and his 21st homer at Fenway Park, along with Jim Thome, the most there by an active player.

Brett Gardner has an 11-game hitting streak.

8. Coming Next to a Ball Field Near You

AL

Yankees (Sergio Mitre) at Tigers (Dontrelle Willis), 7:05

Blue Jays (Brandon Morrow) at Red Sox (John Lackey), 7:10

Rays (Matt Garza) at Angels (Joel Pineiro), 10:05

NL

Reds (Bronson Arroyo) at Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf), 7:05

Nationals (Luis Atilano) at Mets (John Maine), 7:10

Marlins (Nate Robertson) at Cubs (Ted Lilly), 8:05

Braves (Tommy Hanson) at Brewers (Doug Davis), 8:10

Phillies (Kyle Kendrick) at Rockies (Greg Smith), 8:40

Dodgers (Chad Billingsley) at Diamondbacks (Rodrigo Lopez), 9:40

9. I Love Walkoffs

X Marks the spot where we need a walkoff image

I find a walkoff hit a perfect way to end any game. Hunter Pence drove in Lance Berkman with a walkoff double in the 11th inning and the Astros beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 to snap a three-game losing streak. Pence and Carlos Lee went b-to-b in the 6th and Pedro Feliz drove in the tying run with a sac fly off closer Heath Bell, who blew his second save of the season, in the 9th.

Amidst talk of possibly being traded along with Berkman, Roy Oswalt struck out a season-high nine in eight innings for a no-decision. The Astros have scored five runs in Oswalt’s 34 innings this season.