On Tuesday night, the Houston Astros defeated the Minnesota Twins, 4-2.
Astros ace Justin Verlander was in complete control, hurling six no-hit innings with 10 strikeouts.
It was a magnificent pitching display, by one of the best hurlers on the planet.
In fact, had Nick Gordon not reached first base on a third strike in the second inning, Verlander would have been throwing six perfect innings at the time of his departure.
Yes: manager Dusty Baker decided to take the ball off his hand and go to his bullpen to finish off the game.
It’s not the first time a pitcher with an ongoing no-hit bid has been removed from the game by his manager.
In fact, you can see the frequency of it increasing this year.
“Today is the 4th time in MLB this year a starter (Justin Verlander) was pulled after 6.0+ no-hit IP and the first reliever then gave up a hit to the first batter he faced (also SD on April 7 & 8, CWS on August 12). That had happened 4 times over the previous 33 seasons combined,” Stats by STATS tweeted.
Today is the 4th time in MLB this year a starter (Justin Verlander) was pulled after 6.0+ no-hit IP and the first reliever then gave up a hit to the first batter he faced (also SD on April 7 & 8, CWS on August 12).
That had happened 4 times over the previous 33 seasons combined.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) August 24, 2022
Baker Did The Right Thing
That stat is actually a reflection of the changing game: today, starting pitchers usually go four or five innings on occasion.
There are still workhorses that go six on average, and then there is Sandy Alcantara who pitches until deep into the eighth or ninth with frequency.
Pitchers like Alcantara were the norm in MLB for decades, but teams have focused on getting outs now rather than innings.
And then there is the pitch count: Verlander was at 91 when Baker took the ball from him.
While he could certainly have pitched three more if needed (he did exceed 110 or 120 back in his prime), Houston needs him healthy for the playoffs.
There is little sense in risking his arm with an 11.5-game division lead.
Removing him from the game was the right call.