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Archive for May 4th, 2011

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

The death of Osama Bin Laden sparked a wave of patriotic fervor that swept across the United States. One of the most vivid images of this spontaneous reaction took place at Citizens Bank Ballpark, where fans started to chant “U-S-A” during the tenth inning of the Mets and Phillies’ Sunday night game.

Over the last 150 years, baseball has been no stranger to patriotism. In wartime and peace, America’s favorite pastime has always seemed to rally around the flag. Just ask Rick Monday.

The 1970s were a different time in American history. The country was still reeling from the resignation of a president and still healing from the scars of the Vietnam War. In an unstable world, confidence in the American way seemed as if it had been lost.

Amid that backdrop, which was accentuated by an election year and the bicentennial, the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the Chicago Cubs on April 25, 1976. The first three innings of the game were relatively uneventful, but in the bottom of the fourth, the turbulent politics of the time set the stage for one of baseball’s most memorable moments.

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Only days before Francisco Liriano pitched a no-hitter against the White Sox, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire admitted that the team was “talking about [its] options” with the struggling left hander. Presumably, last night’s performance put an end to that discussion.

Liriano joined Cliff "Lefty Chambers" as the only pitcher to walk four more batters than he struckout while pitching a no-hitter.

At the risk of throwing cold water on what is a remarkable accomplishment under any circumstances, it should be noted that Liriano’s no-hitter wasn’t as overpowering as you might expect. For example, the Twins’ lefty walked six batters, while striking out only two. The only other no-hitter to feature four more walks than strikeouts was thrown by the Pirates’ Lefty Chambers (eight bases on balls and four strikeouts) against the Boston Braves on May 6, 1951.

Liriano’s no-hitter also tied Lefty Chambers for the lowest game score (a statistic devised by Bill James to assess the overall quality of a pitcher’s performance) among all pitchers who have thrown a complete game without surrendering a hit. What’s more, Liriano’s game score of 83 only ranks 13th among all performances turned in so far this season.

No-Hitters with the Lowest Game Score, Since 1919

Player Date Tm Opp IP H R BB SO GSc
Francisco Liriano 5/3/2011 MIN CHW 9 0 0 6 2 83
Lefty Chambers 5/6/1951 PIT BSN 9 0 0 8 4 83
Ken Holtzman 8/19/1969 CHC ATL 9 0 0 3 0 84
George Culver 7/29/1968 CIN PHI 9 0 1 5 4 84
Joe Cowley 9/19/1986 CHW CAL 9 0 1 7 8 84
Edwin Jackson 6/25/2010 ARI TBR 9 0 0 8 6 85
A.J. Burnett 5/12/2001 FLA SDP 9 0 0 9 7 85
Jim Abbott 9/4/1993 NYY CLE 9 0 0 5 3 85
Steve Busby 4/27/1973 KCR DET 9 0 0 6 4 85
Clyde Wright 7/3/1970 CAL OAK 9 0 0 3 1 85

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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