Here’s something we definitely didn’t see coming.
Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has no-hit the American League Central-champion Tigers through seven innings Sunday in Miami. It’s not a fully-loaded Detroit lineup for Game 162, but Prince Fielder is in there along with Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante and a couple other regulars. Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila and Torii Hunter are on the Tigers’ bench.
We’ll have inning-by-inning updates as Alvarez tries to make history on the final day of the 2013 regular season. The 23-year-old from Venezuela has thrown only 76 pitches so far. It’s a scoreless game.
UPDATE, 2:49 p.m. ET: Alvarez cruised through the top of the eighth on two groundouts and a strikeout of Ramon Santiago. His pitch count is only 86 through eight no-hit frames, but the score remains 0-0.
UPDATE, 3:01 p.m. ET: Alvarez snagged two comebackers for the first two outs in the top of the ninth. He then walked Andy Dirks on four straight pitches but rallied back to strike out Matt Tuiasosopo. That’s nine innings of no-hit ball, but it’s not an official no-hitter yet because the Marlins still haven’t scored a run in the 0-0 game. Alvarez is at 99 pitches and would almost certainly come back out for the top of the 10th.
UPDATE, 3:14 p.m. ET: Miami loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning against Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen and Giancarlo Stanton scampered home for the winning run on a two-out walkoff wild pitch. What an odd scene at Marlins Park. It was the fifth no-hitter in Marlins franchise history.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.