Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull no-hits Seattle in Tigers 5-0 win

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SEATTLE — Spencer Turnbull walked out of the bullpen feeling terrible, hoping a shaky pregame warmup would dissipate once he stepped on the mound.

A few hours later, Turnbull was being slammed in the face with a shaving cream pie and doused in water, beer and baby powder by his Detroit Tigers teammates on the grass at T-Mobile Park.

There was plenty to celebrate after Turnbull joined the parade of no-hitters in 2021.

“It is by far the best night of my life, most exciting, and it’s definitely kind of like one of those landmark stamps on my career up to this point,” Turnbull said.

The 28-year-old right-hander tossed the fifth no-hitter of the major league season, baffling the Seattle Mariners in Detroit’s 5-0 win.

Once best known for leading baseball in losses in 2019 when he had a 3-17 record, Turnbull twirled a gem that overmatched the Mariners and continued to highlight the dominance of pitchers through the first quarter of the season.

The five no-hitters through May 18 match the 1917 season for the most in baseball history by that date. Two of the five were thrown against Seattle at T-Mobile Park, and the Mariners are the first team since the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 to get no-hit twice in a month.

Turnbull is the first pitcher not named Justin Verlander to throw a no-hitter for Detroit since Jack Morris in 1984. Verlander threw two during his tenure with the Tigers, the last coming on May 7, 2011, in Toronto.

A decade later, Turnbull added his name to the team’s record book.

Turnbull had never gone more than seven innings in any of his previous 49 starts over three seasons. Now, he owns a no-no.

“He was pretty relentless,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “I’m really proud of him. He’s worked really hard and deserves every bit of tonight.”

Turnbull leaned on a fastball in the mid-90s (mph) and a biting slider to keep Seattle’s batters guessing. He also got a great defensive play from third baseman Jeimer Candelario in the seventh inning to rob Mitch Haniger of a possible hit, and then struck out Haniger in the ninth to end it.

“Probably three of the best pitches I made all night,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull (3-2) fanned nine and walked two. He issued a free pass to Jose Marmolejos leading off the ninth when a full-count curveball missed wide, just the second baserunner for Seattle. Turnbull struck out Sam Haggerty for the first out and got Jarred Kelenic to ground into a fielder’s choice for the second.

Haniger, who came closest to a hit for the Mariners earlier in the game, went down swinging on a 95 mph fastball for the final out. Turnbull screamed in joy and was engulfed in a hug from catcher Eric Haase before being overrun by teammates.

“He delivered some pretty good 3-2 breaking balls,” Hinch said. “He kept kind of answering the challenge.”

Turnbull didn’t make his season debut until April 21 because he contracted COVID-19 and missed a couple of weeks. But he joined a no-hitter list for 2021 that already included San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove at Texas on April 9, Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon against Cleveland on April 14, Baltimore’s John Means in Seattle on May 5 and Cincinnati lefty Wade Miley against Cleveland on May 7.

In addition, Arizona left-hander Madison Bumgarner pitched seven hitless innings in a complete game during a doubleheader against Atlanta on April 25, but that is not recognized as an official no-hitter by Major League Baseball because the game did not go at least nine innings – it was shortened under pandemic rules in effect for a second straight season.

Turnbull threw a career-high 117 pitches, 77 for strikes. Haniger was the only batter to hit the ball hard enough to threaten a base hit.

“It got to a point I think the last four innings, I don’t know if he shook one time,” Haase said. “We were just in really great sync and whatever I was putting down he was throwing and he was executing.”

Like seemingly every no-hitter, there was at least one great defensive play and Turnbull’s was no different. Haniger sent a drive to the wall in center field in the fourth inning that Akil Baddoo pulled in, but it was his shot in the seventh that appeared destined for a hit.

Haniger lined a fastball at 108 mph off the bat down the third base line. Candelario made a terrific sprawling stop of the one-hopper and a strong throw to first to get Haniger.

“That ball was hit so hard I didn’t have time to think. It was hit and it was already in (Candelario’s) glove,” Turnbull said.

Seattle joined Cleveland in being no-hit twice already this season. It was nearly three times for the Mariners after Cleveland’s Zach Plesac took a no-no into the eighth inning last week before it was broken up.

“We have to get better. I know we have a young team, and some of this is growing pains,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’re just not getting it done.”

The major league record for no-hitters in a season since 1900 is seven, which has happened several times.

DETROIT’S OFFENSE

Candelario made the big defensive play and was responsible for nearly all of Detroit’s offense. He hit his third homer of the season with two outs in the first inning off Seattle starter Justin Dunn (1-2). Candelario added an RBI groundout in the third, and doubled off the wall in right-center and scored on Miguel Cabrera‘s RBI single in the eighth. Candelario ran through a stop sign from third base coach Chip Hale but scored when catcher Luis Torrens couldn’t handle the one-hop throw cleanly.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: OF Jake Fraley (hamstring strain) was doing on-field work prior to the game and might head out on a rehab assignment in the near future, Servais said. Fraley has been out since April 7. … LHP Marco Gonzales (forearm strain) could progress to facing a few hitters by the end of the week.

UP NEXT

Tigers: LHP Tarik Skubal (0-6, 5.73 ERA) looks for his first win of the season. Skubal has lost four straight starts.

Mariners: Prized prospect Logan Gilbert (0-1, 9.00) makes his second major league start. Gilbert allowed four earned runs in his debut last week against Cleveland.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.