Homer Bailey AP

Homer Bailey throws a no-hitter against the Pirates

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UPDATE: He did it! Homer Bailey has done it. He threw a no-hitter tonight against the Pirates as part of a 1-0 win.

Bailey struck out pinch-hitter Brock Holt swinging to begin the ninth before getting pinch-hitter Michael McKenry to pop out to left field for the second out. He then Alex Presley to pop out to Brandon Phillips in shallow center field to finish off the no-hitter.

Bailey is the first Reds pitcher with a no-hitter since Tom Browning threw a perfect game against the Dodgers on September 16, 1988. This is the seventh no-hitter in MLB this season, joining Felix Hernandez (perfect game), Matt Cain (perfect game), the six-pitcher no-hitter by the Mariners, Johan Santana, Jered Weaver and Philip Humber (perfect game). There haven’t been seven no-hitters in a season since 1991.

Bailey tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts and needed 115 pitches to get it done. This no-hitter won’t be without some controversy, as the play with Scott Rolen in the third inning could have easily been ruled a hit instead of an error. Still, the Pirates had the rest of the game to get a hit and couldn’t do it. Can’t lose sleep over that. Congrats to Bailey on his first career no-no.

By the way, this was the Pirates’ 81st loss of the season, ensuring their 20th straight season without a winning record. I’m sorry, Pirates fans.

9:18 PM: Bailey has now held the Pirates hitless through eight.

Travis Snider pinch-hit for Jose Tabata to lead off the eighth inning and flew out to left field. Pedro Alvarez then hit a liner right at Scott Rolen for the second out. Jeff Clement then pinch-hit for Clint Barmes and struck out swinging.

Bailey has nine strikeouts on the night and has thrown only 99 pitches, so he plenty of bullets left. The Pirates have Rod Barajas, the pitcher spot and Alex Presley due up in the bottom of the ninth.

By the way, the Pirates have not been no-hit since Bob Gibson did it on August 14, 1971.

9:02 PM: The Pirates’ second-half collapse has been pretty depressing to watch, but they could be reaching new depths tonight against the Reds.

Homer Bailey has held the Pirates hitless through seven innings. The Reds currently lead it 1-0 thanks to a first-inning sacrifice fly by Todd Frazier.

Bailey has only allowed two baserunners all night, one on a fielding error by Scott Rolen in the third inning and the other via a walk to Andrew McCutchen in the seventh. McCutchen stole second base, but was then thrown out trying to steal third. Bailey has eight strikeouts and has thrown 57 out of 89 pitches for strikes.

The Pirates will send Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes to the plate in the bottom of the eighth. Stay tuned to see if Bailey can make a little history.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]