Four worthy hurlers vie for May's top performance
Miller, Harvey, Sanchez and Sale each tossed one-hitters during the month
Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, Matt Harvey of the Mets, Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers and Chris Sale of the White Sox are awaiting your support, as voting is under way to select May's Pitching Performance of the Month presented by Head & Shoulders.
The candidates each held their opponent to just one hit over nine strong innings. But don't consider them one-hit wonders, because all four pitchers are under the age of 30, and they are each projected to be on the hill for years to come.
The four nominated performances displayed dominance at home, striking out a combined 44 batters, continuing to prove that 2013 is the "Season of the #Whiff."
Here is a closer look at your candidates for May:
Miller, May 10 vs. the Rockies
Stat line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 13 K's, 0 BB
There has not been a perfect game thrown in 2013, but after giving up a leadoff hit to Eric Young, Miller was perfect, retiring the next 27 batters in order to record his first career shutout.
Miller overpowered the heart of the Rockies' order, striking out Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez twice and Troy Tulowitzki three times.
Miller, making only the eighth start of his career, was the third rookie in history to allow one hit and strike out 13 or more in a complete-game victory.The right-hander has pitched at least five innings and given up three runs or fewer in each of his 10 starts this season.
"This was definitely the best game I've ever thrown," Miller said. "This was a start I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Harvey: May 7 vs. the White Sox
Stat line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 K's, 0 BB
Harvey has been so good in his first full season that when his perfect-game bid was broken up after retiring the first 20 batters he faced, it evoked comparisons to Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
In 1969, Seaver sat down 25 straight before Jimmy Qualls broke up his bid for perfection with a soft single to left field. In 2013, it was Alex Rios in the seventh inning with a single to the left side of the infield. Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada gloved the ball deep in the hole, jumped and fired to first in the air, but Rios beat it out.
"In that hole, it's tough," said Harvey. "Anything going away and making that long throw, I knew it was going to have to be absolutely perfect. [Tejada] made an awesome attempt, and I definitely appreciated everything. The guys in the field, they did everything. They made every play and they made it fun."
Without any support, Harvey became the first pitcher since Francisco Cordova in 1997 to get a no-decision in a game in which he threw nine shutout innings while allowing one hit or fewer and striking out at least 10 batters.
Sanchez: May 24 vs. the Twins
Stat line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 K's, 3 BB
Of the nominees, Sanchez was the closest to a no-hitter, bringing his bid all the way into the ninth inning, set to face the Twins' top of the order.
Sanchez struck out Jamey Carroll for the second time, and he was just two outs away from his second career no-hitter when Joe Mauer stepped to the plate. Mauer roped a 1-1 curveball up the middle for the first hit of the game. It was the third time in Mauer's career that he'd broken up a no-hitter in the ninth inning.
"I knew I had a no-hitter, and I knew I had a tough ninth inning with Carroll and Mauer, one of the best hitters in the league, and also [Josh] Willingham," Sanchez said.
Sanchez finished off the complete-game shutout by striking out Willingham and Justin Morneau.
Sanchez would have been the 28th pitcher in Major League history with multiple no-hitters. But he still joined a very exclusive club, becoming the 18th big league pitcher since 1916 to throw five complete games allowing one or zero hits. All five of Sanchez's have come since 2006, leading the Majors in that span.
Sale: May 12 vs. the Angels
Stat line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 7 K's, 0 BB
The 6-foot-6 lefty continued his great start to the 2013 season. And despite being only 24, it is starts like this one that prove why he is the ace of the staff.
Sale retired 19 straight batters, the club mark thus far this season, before surrendering a one-out single to Mike Trout in the top of the seventh. Sale proceeded to force Albert Pujols to ground out and got Mark Trumbo swinging to end the inning. Sale finished the game with two perfect frames.
"I didn't wake up this morning and say, 'I want to throw a perfect game or a no-hitter,'" Sale said. "I come to the ballpark every day when I'm pitching and just want to keep my team in the game and win this game. We did."
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.