MLB Notebook: A final-day feat to be feted
Zimmermann punctuates 2014 regular season with no-hitter vs. Marlins
This season produced 69 games that ended with a 1-0 score, the most in any season since 1976. And in six of those 69, the winning pitcher just happened to don the old throwback approach for a nine-inning, complete-game effort. There were a pair of three-hitters in there (by the Braves' Julio Teheran and the Mets' Zack Wheeler), a couple of two-hitters (courtesy of the Brewers' Matt Garza and the Padres' Andrew Cashner) and an eight-hit enterprise from the Marlins' Henderson Alvarez. But the best was saved for last, as the Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann made this year of the 1-0 game conclude with the most vibrant of signatures on Sunday: a one-batter-over-the-minimum, 104-pitch, two-hour-and-one-minute statement that included a zero in a rare location: the opposition's hit column.
In Washington, Zimmermann threw the fifth no-hitter in Expos/Nationals history. The 143rd no-hitter in National League history (not counting Roy Halladay's for the Phillies in the postseason) had some interesting nuggets aligned with the command performance in which Zimmermann struck out 10 with one walk.
• With the no-hitter coming in the Nationals' final game of the year, this marked the second time in as many seasons that the final day of the season saw a no-hitter. Last year, it was Alvarez who inked his name in the record books. In celebrating Alvarez's feat, the Marlins media guide notes that his was the fourth no-hitter to occur on a final day. Before Alvarez's, the previous three came from: the Reds Bumpus Jones on October 15, 1892; the Athletics tandem effort from Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers on September 28, 1975; and the Angels Mike Witt (a perfect game) on Sept. 30, 1984.
• The NL produced five no-hitters this season (the previous four: Josh Beckett, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and a combination of four Phillies). The five in the NL are the most since 1969 (the Expos' Bill Stoneman, Jim Maloney, Don Wilson, Ken Holtzman and Bob Moose).
Official Expos/Nationals no-nos
|Bill Stoneman||April 17, 1969|
|Bill Stoneman||Oct. 2, 1972|
|Charlie Lea||May 10, 1981|
|Dennis Martinez||July 28, 1991 (perfect game)|
|Jordan Zimmermann||Sept. 28, 2014|
• On June 8 this season, Zimmermann hurled a two-hit shutout with 12 K's and no walks to produce a game score of 95. In this no-hitter, he did himself one point better and thus became the fifth right-hander in the past 20 years with multiple efforts in a season producing game scores of at least 95. He joins Pedro Martinez in 2000, Hideo Nomo in 2001, Matt Cain in 2012, and R.A. Dickey in 2012. Zimmermann is the first Expos/Nationals pitcher ever to have two such scores in one year.
Worth the Price of admission
David Price (7.1 IP, 4 hits) and two Tigers relievers combined on a four-hitter as Detroit defeated Minnesota, 3-0, and captured the team's fourth straight American League Central title. Detroit has claimed seven division titles, with the stretch of four straight following crowns in 1972, 1984 and 1987. The Tigers are the second team to win as many as four straight AL Central crowns, following the Indians (1995-99).
With his eight strikeouts in the win, Price finished the year with an AL-leading 271, the most for an AL southpaw since Randy Johnson had 291 in 1997. Of the 61 hurlers since 1893 to have at least 271, Price's 1.38 BB/9 is the fourth lowest behind Curt Schilling (1.15 BB/9 with 316 K's in 2002), Martinez (1.33 with 284 in '00) and Schilling again (1.37 with 293 in '01).
Altuve's Astro-nomical acheivement
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve claimed the AL batting title; he went 2-for-4 with his 47th double to finish the year at .341. Some noteworthy elements to Altuve's memorable campaign, which saw him become the first Astros player to wear a batting crown:
• Altuve's .341 batting average is tied for the third highest for a second baseman in the past 40 seasons. Rod Carew batted .359 in 1975, Robinson Cano hit .342 in 2006, and Julio Franco (1991), Chuck Knoblauch (1996) and Placido Polanco (2007) all hit .341. Carew and Franco won batting titles.
• Altuve is the first batting champ to be listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter since Willie Keeler in 1898. Since Keeler batted .385 that year, only nine other players listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter have qualified for the batting title and hit as high as .341; the last to do so was Hack Wilson (.356) in 1930.
• Altuve's 225 hits tie him with Johnny Hodapp (1930) for the ninth most for a second baseman. They are the most for a second baseman since Charlie Gehringer had 227 in 1936.
• Finally, Altuve accessorized his batting title and those 225 hits with 47 doubles and 56 steals. Ty Cobb (1911) is the only player to reach or surpass those three counting numbers in the same season. Cobb had 248 hits, collected 47 doubles and stole 83 bases.
Numbers befitting a King
AL ERA champ Felix Hernandez allowed one hit in 5 1/3 innings to secure his 15th win and lower his ERA to that league-leading 2.14 -- the lowest for an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez's 1.74 in 2000. Hernandez also finished with a 0.915 WHIP, the 19th lowest for an AL pitcher and the second lowest for an AL pitcher in the DH era. In 2000, Martinez posted a 0.737 WHIP. Hernandez, Martinez, Sandy Koufax (1965) and Clayton Kershaw (2014) are the only qualifying pitchers since 1893 to have a season with an ERA at or below 2.14, a WHIP at or below 0.915 and a strikeout rate of at least 27.2.
Johnny be good
In Cincinnati's 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh, right-hander Johnny Cueto allowed one run on six hits and fanned seven to record his 20th victory of the year. Cueto finished the season tied for the league lead in strikeouts (242), second in ERA (2.25) and tied for second in wins (20). He is the first 20-game winner for the Reds since Danny Jackson recorded 23 victories in 1988. He is the first Reds pitcher to win at least 20 and produce an ERA as low as 2.25 since Dolf Luque in 1923 (the right-hander was 27-8 with a 1.93 ERA).
Cueto is the 11th NL pitcher since 1901 to have a season with at least 20 wins, at least 242 K's and an ERA no higher than 2.25. Seven of the 11 won the league Triple Crown, while Cueto and three others were left with just the extraordinary numbers. The Triple Crown winners: Christy Mathewson (1908), Dazzy Vance (1924), Koufax (1963, '65, '66), Steve Carlton (1972) and Dwight Gooden (1985). The others: Bob Gibson (1968, '69) and Tom Seaver (1971).