The Phillies were two outs away from some historical spring training glory. A few moments later, they were kissing their cousins.
The Phils had recorded 25 outs in last night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles without giving up a hit until Michael Mariot allowed a one-out single to Chris Dickerson in the 9th inning to break up the spring no-no. He then gave up a two-run home run to the next batter Sean Coyle, which led to an unsatisfying 2-2 tie with the O’s in Sarasota.
To illustrate how little the final results of these games mean, no one is really sure the last time the Phillies threw a spring no-hitter, but it’s believed it was back in the 1950s.
And if you’re looking for someone to blame for this lost opportunity, sure you could blame Michael Mariot, who gave up the no-no, and the lead, but he’s just a poor victim of the cruelty of Major League Baseball, who committed the ultimate no-hitter sin.
They jinxed it.
And the Phillies noticed.
Manager Pete Mackanin wasn’t having any of this “fake game” nonsense. He was bummed.
"It's a shame to lose the no-hitter," he said. "A no-hitter is a no-hitter. It would have been nice to win that game."
Steve Ridzik, you can rest easy. Your place in Phillies lore remains secure.
Vince Velasquez got the start last night, and it was not a great performance. He lasted just 3 2⁄3 innings and, just like last year, struggled with his efficiency. He threw 76 pitches, 39 strikes and 37 balls, which any analyst will tell you is a pretty horrible ratio.
He issued three walks in the first inning and four free passes in all, but also struck out six and didn't allow a hit. It was very much like what the Phils saw from him last season, high pitch counts, lots of strikeouts, but an inability to last deep into a game. Afterwards, Velasquez used the performance as a learning experience.
"This was a good, solid outing to learn from," Velasquez said. "Knowing that I was throwing a lot of pitches, I had to throw pitches in certain situations, in key situations. The changeup was working pretty well, helping me out a lot and also setting up my fastball for some of the strikeouts. Everything was pretty much down in the dirt but I had to make adjustments.
"This was pretty much one of the games where I needed to make pitches to get outs, especially bases loaded with a tough team like this. You've got to make the pitches in the heat of the moment."
Velasquez averaged just over five innings per start last year. He’ll have a few more starts in spring training to work on that pitch efficiency before heading up north.
Jake Thompson made his first appearance in a big league game this spring after falling behind due to a nagging wrist injury, but he pitched great. He went 2 1⁄3 innings and gave up no runs, no hits, and no walks while striking out two. Colton Murray contributed 1 2⁄3 innings of no-hit ball as well.
Unfortunately, those efforts did not result in the kind of history that one rarely comes across in this crazy world of ours. You would have remembered where you were and what you were doing forever when you first found out the Phillies had thrown a spring training no-hitter but it was not to be.
In the end, fate, MLB and Michael Mariot intervened.
Cole Hamels, get some champagne. You’re still on the clock.