Pitcher Perfect: Kershaw’s no-no best ever
There have been 215 no-hitters in Major League Baseball since 1904, not including the 23 perfect games in the modern era. With the large quantity of no-no’s in the league coming from hall of famers and regular Joes, the most dominate of them all came Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Dodgers ace and southpaw Clayton Kershaw’s performance against Colorado was above and beyond any other no-hit feat in history. No runs, no hits, no walks and 15 strikeouts in just 107 pitches.
While the fastball is key to success for so many pitchers in today’s game, Kershaw’s dominating performance came anchored on the curveball and other breaking pitches. It wasn’t just a traditional 12-6 curve, they were knee-bending sweepers that left very good hitters in awe.
Kershaw’s precision is also what puts his tremendous game at the top of history. His Game Score – a metric devised by Bill James to determine the strength of a pitcher in any particular baseball game – of 102 is the best ever in a no-hitter or perfect game and second in game history to Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout one-hit game in 1998 that tallied a 105.
Kershaw’s 15 strikeouts in a no-no is tied for first by a lefty with Warren Span and ties for third overall behind Nolan Ryan’s 17- and 16-strikeout no-hitters. The catch is, however, Kershaw has the most strikeouts in a no-no without a walk.
Not to mention the team that Kershaw was throwing against. The Rockies have the best offense in the league nearing the midway point of the season. With a batting average of .282 the Rockies have been on an unbelievable tear through baseball.
That was until Kershaw stepped on the mound. The feat would not rank near as high had it come against the Cubs or Astros, or nearly any other team in baseball except maybe the Athletics.
I think the only way Kershaw could have bettered his performance would have been to throw the no-no at Coors Field in Denver, which is next to impossible (Hideo Nomo threw only no-hitter at Coors in 1996). Or have Hanley Ramirez not rushed his throw to first that kept Kershaw from perfection.
Plus, looking back at how big the parks were up until the ’60s, holding a team hitless in today’s stadiums is extremely hard. With more and more parks being built to accommodate offense, keeping the ball in the ballpark anymore is a rare feat. That is unless you play in Miami and are anyone but Mike Stanton. Dodger Stadium doesn’t lean one way or the other as far as favorite toward a hitter or pitcher, but with the short fences and dry air, the ball tends to come off the bat much better.
Kershaw gave up one hard-hit ball on Tuesday that went foul after changing speeds very well on his fastball to breaking stuff. ONE HARD HIT BALL. ONE.
For the rest of the night hitters were stymied; left shaking their heads and wondering “what the heck just happened.” Kershaw too was in a bit of shock for most of the game. I don’t think he really realized what was going on until the Gatorade bath hit him in his postgame interview. The kid was calm, cool and collected.
Shoot, even his team kind of just walked to him after the game before jumping around on the mound. Vin Scully was almost the only one in the stadium that went nuts at first.
Nonetheless, Kershaw owned the night and owned the Colorado Rockies. Tuesday was Kershaw Night at the ballpark. It was also a night that may never be seen again in MLB history. No hits, no walks, 15 Ks and 107 pitches? Get out of here.