Here’s something we definitely didn’t see coming.
Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has no-hit the American League Central-champion Tigers through seven innings Sunday in Miami. It’s not a fully-loaded Detroit lineup for Game 162, but Prince Fielder is in there along with Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante and a couple other regulars. Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila and Torii Hunter are on the Tigers’ bench.
We’ll have inning-by-inning updates as Alvarez tries to make history on the final day of the 2013 regular season. The 23-year-old from Venezuela has thrown only 76 pitches so far. It’s a scoreless game.
UPDATE, 2:49 p.m. ET: Alvarez cruised through the top of the eighth on two groundouts and a strikeout of Ramon Santiago. His pitch count is only 86 through eight no-hit frames, but the score remains 0-0.
UPDATE, 3:01 p.m. ET: Alvarez snagged two comebackers for the first two outs in the top of the ninth. He then walked Andy Dirks on four straight pitches but rallied back to strike out Matt Tuiasosopo. That’s nine innings of no-hit ball, but it’s not an official no-hitter yet because the Marlins still haven’t scored a run in the 0-0 game. Alvarez is at 99 pitches and would almost certainly come back out for the top of the 10th.
UPDATE, 3:14 p.m. ET: Miami loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning against Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen and Giancarlo Stanton scampered home for the winning run on a two-out walkoff wild pitch. What an odd scene at Marlins Park. It was the fifth no-hitter in Marlins franchise history.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?