20 years ago today: Phillies right-hander Tommy Greene throws no-hitter

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May 23, 1991

Making just his second start of the season, the Phillies’ Tommy Greene, a former first-round pick of the Braves with six major league victories to his credit, pitched a no-hitter against the Expos, striking out 10 and walking seven in the process.

Facing the Expos again five days later, he hurled a second straight shutout, allowing three hits, walking none and striking out nine in what could be argued was an even better performance.  He threw 130 pitches in the no-hitter, as opposed to 110 in the second shutout.

In all, Greene allowed one run over 31 innings during the month of May.  He went on to finish the season 13-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 207 2/3 innings, a total he reached despite pitching out of the bullpen for six weeks.

Unfortunately, it was one of only two healthy seasons Greene would have as a major leaguer.  After throwing 120 pitches eight times in 1991, including 136 and 133 in September outings, he went 3-3 with a 5.32 ERA in a 1992 season in which he was limited by shoulder problems.

Healthy again in 1993, he went 16-4 with a 3.42 ERA to finish sixth in the NL Cy Young balloting.  However, he was a major bust in the postseason, giving up 17 runs over 11 2/3 innings in his three starts. In his lone World Series outing, he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in Game 4.  The Phillies overcame his struggles and took a 12-7 lead in the fifth inning, only to eventually lose to the Blue Jays 15-14.

Suffering from more shoulder problems, Greene won just two major league games after 2003.  He retired at age 30 after a 1997 season spent primarily with Houston’s Triple-A affiliate.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?