In his first start after signing a five-year contract, Jon Niese took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Braves.
Niese lost the no-hitter on a Freddie Freeman single after Dan Uggla walked to start the seventh. Matt Diaz followed with a fly to right that Lucas Duda lost in the sun for an error. Jason Heyward then rocketed a two-run double to right-center to knock Niese from the game
The Mets were up 7-0 at the beginning of the seventh, so they couldn’t have been too disappointed by the series of events. Niese gave up his first hit on his 98th pitch, and the Mets weren’t going to want him throwing 120-130 pitches in going for a no-no in his first start of the year.
Niese’s big outing today followed a spring in which he amassed a 5.73 ERA and allowed 28 hits in 22 innings. The league hit .284 against him last year (compared to .251 for MLB as a whole), giving him a mediocre 4.40 ERA despite rather strong peripherals.
Yadier Molina has two World Series rings, multiple Gold Gloves, Platinum Gloves, All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger award. He now has an all-time record too.
The record: the most games caught with one team. Last night he caught his 1756th career game with the Cardinals, with ties him with Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs, who last caught in 1941 and set the record in 1940, his last season with Chicago. Molina will break the record next time he dons the tools of ignorance, likely tonight against the Phillies.
Given how badly catchers get beaten up — and Molina has taken a beating at times in his career — and given how well mastery of the position leads to a catcher earning journeyman status, as it were, it’s quite a thing to catch that many games for one team.
Given that Molina is under contract with the Cardinals for two more seasons and has stated his desire to retire a Cardinal many times, he’s likely to put that record so far out of reach that it’ll likely take at least another 78 years to break it, if indeed it is ever broken.