Any night when Mike Piazza hits a triple is a rare one.
However, Piazza’s seventh career three-bagger was a footnote in what almost became a historic night.
San Diego’s Chris Young was two outs away from the franchise’s first no-hitter in 38 seasons against Pittsburgh Friday night. The crowd at Petco Park rose in anticipation with each out recorded and remained hopeful that history was taking shape. Even when Young walked Jose Bautista in the ninth, the Padres and their fans still held onto hope.
Young’s quest at history and Major League Baseball’s second no-hitter of the season wouldn’t come to pass as a former Padre spoiled the plans.
Joe Randa’s one-out, two-run pinch-hit home run ended Young’s no-hit bid. Still, Young’s performance was more than enough for the Padres in a 6-2 victory over the Pirates, the team which drafted Young in the third round of the 2000 draft.
Young, who walked three and struck out six, improved to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in his last 10 starts with a 3.35 ERA. The timing of Young’s performance couldn’t have been any better as the Padres remained ½ game ahead of Los Angeles, which won 2-0 over Arizona, in the NL West standings.
Young is the only major leaguer this year to take a no-hitter into the sixth, eighth and ninth innings. On June 4, Young took a no-hitter into the sixth in Pittsburgh. In that game, he went eight innings and allowed two hits in a 1-0 victory. Before that start, on May 30, Young carried a no-hitter into the eight inning against Colorado. Against the Pirates, Young faced the minimum 25 batters after getting Ryan Doumit to fly out to right to lead off the ninth. Young couldn’t get the second out, walking Bautista on a 3-2 pitch that just missed outside. Randa got ahead 3-1 and took a Young fastball over the center-field fence.
“The adrenaline and the emotion of having the crowd behind me, they were so loud, my ears are still ringing from how loud they were. It was great fan support tonight. It made it a lot of fun being out there,” Young told MLB.com’s Amanda Branam.
Surprisingly, Piazza, the Padres catcher, or any of San Diego’s coaching staff came out to calm Young down when he reached three balls against Bautista and Randa.
After Randa’s home run, Young struck out Chris Duffy but walked Jack Wilson. Manager Bruce Bochy lifted Young, who was one out away from his first complete game, for Cla Meredith, who struck out Freddy Sanchez to end the game.
Young kept Pirate hitters off base thanks to a great first-pitch curveball and steady movement on his fastballs. The timing of the Pittsburgh hitters was off just enough to turn possible hits into pop ups, fly outs and groundouts.
Young had a perfect game going into the sixth retiring the game’s first 17 batters. That quest ended when he walked pinch-hitter Rajai Davis. However, Davis’ time on the bases was brief. Davis stole second but overslid the bag and was tagged out by shortstop Manny Alexander to end the inning. Young didn’t allow a baserunner after that point until Bautista’s walk in the ninth.
San Diego’s defense provided Young with some clutch plays. In the first, left fielder Ben Johnson made a great grab at the wall of a Jack Wilson shot to prevent extra bases. Second baseman Josh Barfield snagged a Xavier Nady liner in the second, one of the hardest hit balls by a Pirate on the night.
Offensively, the Padres gave Young enough support early. San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the first when Barfield scored on Mike Cameron’s sacrifice fly. Adrian Gonzalez’s 24th home run of the year in the third, a two-run shot, pushed the Padres’ lead to 3-0. Walker added a home run in the sixth, a solo shot.
Piazza’s first triple since 2002 started the Padres’ two-run seventh. Piazza smacked a pitch off the top of the wall in center, just missing a home run by a foot. The ball went sharply past Duffy and rolled toward right center field allowing Piazza to run into third standing up. Gonzalez’ single scored Piazza which was followed by Johnson’s triple to left scoring Gonzalez for a 6-0 San Diego lead.
Notes: Pittsburgh avoided being no-hit for the first time in more than 35 years. St. Louis’ Bob Gibson no-hit the Pirates, 11-0, on
August 14, 1971
. Young’s best pitching, surprisingly, hasn’t come at pitcher-friendly Petco where he has a 5-5 record and a 4.60 ERA this season. On the road, Young is 6-0 with a 2.50 ERA.
It’s just fantastic to watch the end of a no-hitter. The excitement, the finality (if that’s even a word), and the celebration. Major League Baseball fans were treated to such a display Wednesday night when Anibal Sanchez became the fourth Florida Marlin to throw a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over the Diamondbacks.
All of the sports shows and morning papers will give the details: rookie, making his 13rd start, struck out six and walked four. They will tell of Willingham’s defensive play in left to save the no-hitter. One will read about second baseman Dan Uggla’s heads up play in the eighth innings to throw to first baseman Mike Jacobs to start the 4-3-6 inning-ending double play. Of course, one will read about ending the longest no-hitter drought in 72 years and the first since Randy Johnson’s perfect game almost 2 1/2 years ago. I won’t waste explaining these facts.
I was impressed with Sanchez’ will and ability to make great pitches under so much pressure. Time and time again, it’s one bad pitch that ends a no-hitter. Sanchez held firm and got through the nerves and that is awesome!
I was hopping up and down a little bit when Sanchez got the final out. Awesome moment to watch!