What they’re saying about the Mariners’ combined no-hitter

8 Comments

Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen combined for a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers last night.

It was the 10th combined no-hitter in major league history and the first since six Astros combined to no-hit the Yankees on June 11, 2003. It was the third no-hitter thrown by the Mariners in their 35-year history and their first since Chris Bosio did it on April 22, 1993 against the Red Sox.

Here’s some reaction to the unique feat:

Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing: “It’s such an anti-history way of going about things. So much is lost when a guy who’s throwing a no-hitter has to be removed. Much of the charm is gone, and the fans watching resign themselves to the reality that they won’t see one guy turn in a legendary performance. But then you remove the guy who replaced the first guy, and then you remove the guy who replaced the second guy, and then you remove the guy who replaced the third guy, and then you remove the guy who replaced the fourth guy, and you go all the way back around again to being incredible. The Mariners have a twelve-man pitching staff. Half of them combined to no-hit a team.”

Jesus Montero, via the Associated Press: “He was surprised,” said Montero, referring to Wilhelmsen. “He didn’t know. … I jumped on him and I was like, `Hey, it’s a no-hitter!’ And he went, `What?!” And then he was so happy after that. He was so focused on the game. That’s what happened.”

Tim Wilhelmsen, via ESPN.com: “Well, I mean, I knew what was going on. But no, I have a brain fart every so often and just focused so hard on getting one thing done. It’s not like you forget, but it’s like you put it off to the side. And then it’s like, ‘Holy cow, we just did it,’ and Montero is in my arms. And then it’s, ‘Holy Cow, we just did it!’ ‘HOLY COW, WE JUST DID IT!’ Something like that. It’s there; it just takes a minute to get it, pick it out and place it in.”

Kevin Millwood, via MLB.com: “I’m excited, I’m excited for all these guys who came into the game out of the bullpen. I guess it’s a little bit more exciting for those guys when they can be a part of it. I wasn’t very happy when I came out of the game, and it took me a couple innings to get a little excited about it, but those guys got all the tough outs.”

Brendan Ryan, via MLB.com: “Wow, he can really fly,” said Ryan, referring to the close play on Dee Gordon in the ninth inning. “I got it cleanly, I got to it quick, I thought, and got it out of my glove. It was a decent throw. I’m still shocked it was that close.”

Jim Caple of ESPN.com: “Consider this: The man who started it (Kevin Millwood) is a 37-year-old journeyman who watched the final three innings on TV in the clubhouse while undergoing treatment for a sore groin. He didn’t even get the win because the game was still tied at 0 when he left. The winning pitcher (Stephen Pryor) is a 22-year-old rookie who was in Triple-A Tacoma the last time the Mariners played a game in Seattle. And the reliever on the mound at the end (Wilhelmsen) is a former bartender. Man, baseball is great, isn’t it?”

Astros owner Jim Crane says MLB ‘explicitly exonerated’ him

Jim Crane
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
5 Comments

Even during a pandemic, the Astros can’t seem to avoid putting their foot in their mouth. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing on Monday that Major League Baseball “explicitly exonerated” him in the club’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in a now-tainted championship.

Crane is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose last appearance in the majors was on August 4, 2017 against the Astros. He faced eight batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Bolsinger accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations arising out of the sign-stealing scandal. Bolsinger is seeking damages for himself as well as for the Astros to forfeit the nearly $31 million in bonuses earned from winning the championship in 2017, asking for the money to be reallocated to children’s charities and retired players in need of financial assistance.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not use the word “exonerated” in his report on the league’s investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme. Manfred did, however, write, “At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”

Saying that the league found “no evidence” that Crane was involved and patting Crane on the back for not obstructing the investigation is not the same was “explicitly exonerating” him. The Athletic asked MLB if it agreed with Crane’s characterization of the report. Rather than agreeing with Crane, the league simply said, “All of our comments about the investigation are included in the report.”

This isn’t the first legal filing in which the Astros made a questionable claim. Recently, Astros lawyers claimed the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

In Monday’s filing, Astros lawyers swung at Bolsinger, citing his poor pitching performance overall in 2017. They wrote, “Plaintiff wants to have a California judge and jury literally call ball and strikes, and award him money damages based on rank conjecture about what might have happened to him in Houston on August 4, 2017 due to alleged rules violations he speculates may have occurred that day.”

Astros lawyers also questioned the frequency of the club’s cheating and its impact, writing, “Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field. The MLB did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Astros fan Tony Adams, who analyzed every home game during the 2017 regular season and posted the results on SignStealingScandal.com, found that there were 54 “bangs” on August 4 when Bolsinger pitched against the Astros. That was the highest total among all Astros home games that season. Bolsinger entered in the middle of the fourth inning, first facing Yuli Gurriel. Adams found three bangs — all on curve balls — in a plate appearance that ended in a walk. Adams found four more bangs — all on breaking balls — in a Brian McCann at-bat later that inning that also ended in a walk. Bolsinger then gave up a single to Tyler White, with trash can banging on a cut fastball and a curve. The next batter, Jake Marisnick, singled as well, hearing bangs on a cutter and a curve. Bolsinger finally got out of the inning when Bregman swung at a first-pitch curve (yes, there was a trash can bang for that) and flied out.

Importantly, Bolsinger’s lawyer notes that Crane’s motion makes MLB eligible for discovery. It is already eligible for discovery in New York federal court where the league is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by daily fantasy sports contestants. Bolsinger’s lawsuit is brought out of California state court. The Astros want Bolsinger’s lawsuit dismissed or at least moved to Texas.

Because the Astros can’t seem to stop making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this whole situation figures to get even more wild as time goes on. Due to discovery, we may end up learning even more about the Astros’ cheating ways than the league may have let on in their report on their investigation.