Four vie for top Pitching Performance of July
Bailey, Lincecum no-hitters in running with Marlins' Fernandez, Dodgers' Greinke
After half a season of no no-nos, two no-hitters were delivered in July.
On July 2, the Reds' Homer Bailey ended the drought and faced just one batter more than the minimum, throwing the first no-hitter in the Majors since he last did the trick on Sept. 28, 2012.
Eleven days later, two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum of the Giants regained his dominance to throw his first career no-hitter.
Marlins rookie sensation Jose Fernandez and Dodgers standout right-hander Zack Greinke will be competing against Bailey and Lincecum, as voting is under way to select July's Pitching Performance of the Month presented by Head & Shoulders.
Here is a closer look at your candidates for July:
Bailey: July 2 vs. San Francisco
No-hitter, 9 IP, 0 R, 9 K's, 1 BB
Bailey became the first pitcher since fellow Texan Nolan Ryan in 1974 and '75 to throw two no-hitters without another big league pitcher accomplishing the feat between his. Bailey also joined Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander as the only active pitchers with multiple no-hitters.
"This one's a little different, being in Cincinnati," Bailey said. "We just kind of went one pitch at a time. At the end, I just kind of looked at the glove and threw it as hard as I could, I guess."
Bailey entered the seventh inning perfect after striking out the side in the sixth but walked Gregor Blanco, the first batter he faced in the seventh. It was the only baserunner he allowed all night.
Bailey finished the no-hitter by forcing Blanco to ground out to third base.
"The ball went to [Todd] Frazier, and any time it's put in play in those situations, you get a little bit nervous. But once Joey [Votto] squeezed it, it was all over," Bailey said.
Fernandez: July 28 vs. Pittsburgh
W, 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 13 K's, 0 BB
Fernandez began his 20th game by striking out Starling Marte on three straight fastballs. He went on to strike out each Pirates hitter in the starting lineup at least once. His 13 strikeouts set a Marlins rookie record.
Fernandez is the eighth pitcher since 1916 to have a game with at least 13 strikeouts and no walks during his first 20 games.
Fernandez has thrown three games with at least 10 strikeouts through his first 20 starts, tying him (and Tony Cingrani) for the 18th-most K's in that span since 1916. Dwight Gooden and Hideo Nomo lead the way with eight apiece.
After the eighth inning, Fernandez approached his manager, Mike Redmond. "I told him, 'I'm going out,'" Fernandez said afterward. "He said, 'We'll see.'"
Redmond pulled Fernandez (then still 20 years old, now 21) after just 97 pitches because the Marlins have placed a 170-innings limit on their promising rookie.
Greinke: July 13 vs. Colorado
SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 9 K's, 1 BB
Greinke took a perfect game into the fifth inning, but Todd Helton broke it up with a one-out single to left field. Greinke allowed just one other single, off the bat of Jonathan Herrera.
Of Greinke's nine strikeouts, six came against the top of the Rockies' order: Dexter Fowler (two), DJ LeMahieu (one), Carlos Gonzalez (one) and Michael Cuddyer (two).
It was the 28th time since 1916 a Dodgers pitcher went the distance in a 1-0 win and allowed no more than two hits while doing so.
Before this effort, Greinke had last thrown a shutout in his American League Cy Young Award-winning season in 2009.
"I stayed good all the way through, I haven't done that in a while," said Greinke, who won his eighth game of the season and 99th of his career. "I felt good out there. It was a fun game."
Lincecum: July 13 at San Diego
No-hitter, 9 IP, 0 R, 13 K's, 4 BB
For a night, Lincecum was again the Freak. His fastball may have lost several miles per hour, but Lincecum still bewildered the Padres, striking out 13 batters, the second most for a Giants pitcher in a no-hitter, after Matt Cain's 14 in his perfect game in 2012. The Padres' hitters swung and missed 29 times in the game. Lincecum's 13 strikeouts tied Fernandez's total for the most strikeouts in one outing in July.
The Padres forced Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence to make big plays under pressure in the seventh and eighth innings to keep the no-hit bid intact.
"That was really special," Lincecum said of Pence's play. "To be honest with you, I thought that was a hit off the bat. Hunter comes flying out of nowhere and makes a Superman catch."
The Padres also worked four walks, which drove Lincecum's pitch count high. His 148 pitches left him one shy of Edwin Jackson's tally in his no-no on June 25, 2010. Jackson's 149 are the most for any no-hitter going back to and including 1988.
Lincecum is the seventh pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Padres, and the first since his former teammate Jonathan Sanchez did it on July 10, 2009.
In addition to voting for the monthly award, you can be part of the Season of the #Whiff campaign around the clock. See a whiff, tweet a #Whiff to @HSforMen, and you will have a chance to win cool prizes from your favorite team.