In a report for the Toronto Star, Brendan Kennedy details how engineering students at the University of Toronto built a knuckleball pitching machine — the world’s first. Their goal was to be able to throw the same knuckleball every time, but they were unable to do so.
The project gave the students a greater appreciation for Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey.
“The amount of control you need to throw the same knuckleball every time is unbelievable,” said Martin Côté, who along with Gordon, Jessica Tomasi and Queenie Yuan built the prototype as part of their fourth-year design project — adapting a regular pitching machine with PVC tubes, motors and a series of sensors that modulated the velocity and automatically set the ball in the same orientation before every pitch.
“The mystery of the knuckleball prevailed over our efforts,” said Professor David Sinton, a baseball-loving mechanical engineer who came up with the idea and supervised the project.
Dickey started for the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon against the Tigers but lost after giving up five runs on 11 hits and two walks with one strikeout in 5 2/3 innings. The knuckleballer is 3-9 on the year with a 5.02 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and a 64/42 K/BB ratio in 107 2/3 innings.
Update #2 (9:53 PM EST): For those who are still keeping tabs on this game, the top of the eighth inning just finished. The Jays have scored six runs, reducing their deficit to 8-6 against the Tigers. Following Carrera’s single to break up the no-hitter, the Jays singled twice more to knock in one run. Then, with Alex Wilson pitching in relief of Sanchez, Josh Donaldson singled to bring in two more runs. Wilson issued a walk and induced a pop-up before allowing a three-run double to Dioner Navarro. Bruce Rondon came in to relieve Wilson and uncorked a wild pitch before walking Justin Smoak to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Rondon was able to get Kevin Pillar to pop up to end the inning.
Despite finishing four outs away from a no-hitter, Sanchez didn’t even qualify for a quality start. His final line: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
Update (9:28 PM EST): Sanchez lost his no-hitter with one out in the eighth inning when Blue Jays outfielder Ezequiel Carrera flared a single to left center.
We have another no-hit bid in progress. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez has held the Blue Jays hitless through seven innings in Friday night’s game at Comerica Park. It’s a doubly impressive feat considering the Blue Jays own the best offense in baseball by far, averaging 5.44 runs per game entering Friday’s action.
The only blemishes on Sanchez’s line are a pair of walks. The first was drawn by Edwin Encarnacion to lead off the second inning and the second came with one out in the seventh inning. Sanchez has struck out four. The Tigers have backed Sanchez with seven runs, five of which came in the fourth inning.
Stay tuned as Sanchez attempts to complete the no-no. It would be the second of his career, as he also accomplished the feat on September 6, 2006 as a member of the Marlins against the Diamondbacks.
Despite it seeming like a pitcher flirts with a no-hitter once every couple of days, only two pitchers have actually closed the deal on a no-hitter this year: Chris Heston for the Giants and Max Scherzer for the Nationals.
After pitching into the seventh inning in his major league debut against the Rangers last Saturday, Blue Jays left-hander Matt Boyd failed to record an out in his start tonight against the Red Sox.
Boyd allowed seven straight batters to reach base before being pulled. He walked one and gave up six hits in the frame, including back-to-back home runs from David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Liam Hendriks allowed two inherited runners to score after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought the hook, so Boyd ended up being charged with seven runs.
In case you were wondering, this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often:
Boyd’s ERA increased from 5.40 to 14.85 with tonight’s clunker. Hey, it should only get better from here.