What makes the game of baseball fascinating is that there is a wide array of things that can happen. The game can be won on a home-run in the bottom of the last inning. A team can rally from over ten runs down to seize victory. The pitcher can throw a perfect game. A defensive player can make an unassisted triple play. There can be a bench-clearing brawl.
Yet last Saturday, I witnessed something so rare, that in modern major league history, it has only happened five times.
A team won a game without a single hit.
With the need to be out of Orange County that night, I attended last Saturday’s Dodgers/Angels game at Dodger Stadium. Seeing as how my time in the southland may be numbered, I figured I’d take in a little bit of the freeway series just for the experience. Besides, there isn’t a place where baseball is bigger than southern California, and seeing these two clubs battle for LA supremacy was a fun and interesting proposition.
So there I am, in my usual third-deck seat behind home plate (I like this view because it’s the same one I have when I do the PA for college games), scorebook in hand with a couple of pencils. I’ve downed my order of nachos and am ready to take in the latest feud between LA baseball’s Hatfields and McCoys.
For the most part, it feels like any other game. Both pitchers are tossing gems. The crowd of better than 55,000 projects a sea of red and blue. During the Kiss Cam promotion, the last couple shown has the man propose to his girlfriend, who thankfully said yes.
The Angels get a chink in the armor in the 5th, when Matt Kemp reaches first as a slow roller to Jered Weaver’s left dies in the grass, and Weaver can’t pick it up. The scorer originally rules it a hit, but my better judgment thinks it’s an error, as it seemed well within Jered’s ability to make the play. A minute later, the scorer agrees with me and changes it to an error. Kemp then steals second while Jeff Mathis’ throw sails into center, allowing Kemp to take third (SB, E2). Then, Blake DeWitt floats a ball to right for a sac fly to score Kemp. Yadda Yadda, 1-0.
Yet Weaver continues to be solid, and while the Angels are able to get a couple on in the 6th and 7th, but then get shut down by the Dodger defense. And once the stretch is over, you start to realize that the Dodgers could win the game without a hit. Once they went down in order in the 8th, you knew it HAD to be without a hit.
Takahashi Saito then takes the mound for the 9th, and it certainly got interesting after a 2-out double by Kendrick and a walk to Mike Napoli. But then Saito’s breaking ball regains its zip, and Reggie Willits strikes out swinging to end the game.
PA Announcer Eric Smith begins his postgame announcements by stating that only four previous times has a team won a game without a single hit. He reads off the totals. “For the Dodgers, one run on NOOOOO HITS, and two errors.”
In baseball, there are rarities, but this one is one of the most elusive. You need a combination of lights out pitching, miniscule blunders, and luck out the wazzu to get such a result. Not even in video games can you finagle such a result on purpose.
But in the end, perhaps that’s why baseball is such a fascinating game. Why those of us most captivated by it stay through the five-hour games and the late nights and long, hot days to see a game from start to end. It’s moments like these that are for those who love the game the most.