Update (9:47 PM): The Braves tacked on four runs of support after Harang was told he wasn’t coming back out for the eighth inning to complete his no-hitter. Lefty Luis Avilan replaced Harang in the bottom half of the eighth and retired the first two Mets hitters he faced, but surrendered a two-out single to David Wright, ending the no-hit bid. Avilan struck out Curtis Granderson to end the inning.
Braves starter Aaron Harang no-hit the Mets through seven innings in New York, kicking off the first of a three-game series. The tall, 35-year-old right-hander issued six walks, but the Mets otherwise weren’t able to get anything going offensively. Harang threw 121 pitches, so manager Fredi Gonzalez asked his bullpen to finish off the no-hitter for the veteran.
Chris Johnson gave Harang a bit of run support in the second inning with an RBI double. The Braves tacked on four more runs in the top of the eighth inning on a Freddie Freeman two-run home run, a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud after Dan Uggla doubled, and an RBI double by Jordan Schafer.
Harang brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his Braves debut on April 2 against the Brewers. He’s been solid to start the season, entering the night with a 0.96 ERA over 18 2/3 innings in three starts. He lowered it to 0.70 ERA with his seven scoreless innings against the Mets.
The last Braves pitcher to toss a no-hitter was Kent Mercker on April 8, 1994. The last time the Mets were no-hit was on September 8, 1993 when Darryl Kile of the Astros accomplished the feat.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: