Major League Baseball has seen quite a few no hitters this season, five to be exact. With the mixture of quality pitching and no hitters, 2010 has earned the title of “the year of the pitcher”. A no hitter is something we dream of as a child, either in Little League, or out back having a catch with Dad. It is one of those rarities in baseball and when you get it, you remember it for the rest of your life.
On Sunday Kevin Slowey of the Minnesota Twins had that chance, but was taken out.
Slowey had a no hitter after seven innings against the Oakland Athletics, when manager Rod Gardenhire decided to take Slowey out of the game. As the Twins skipper made his way out of the dugout he was showered by boos from the locals.
"I would boo me too," Gardenhire told ESPN. "I took a pitcher out with a no hitter going. But I would do it 1,000 times the same way."
Fans questioned why Gardenhire decided to make the move, however since Slowey had missed his last start with elbow tendonitis, he was weary. The Twins manager did not want the pitcher to overuse his arm, and since he was already at 106 pitches, the risk for serious injury was high.
"We’re not going to come close to risking this guy," Gardenhire continued. "It’s the way it is. It’s sad. I’d be booing too because I want to see a no-hitter, but I also know I’m responsible for this guy’s arm."
It was not long after Slowey was taken out of the game that the no hitter was broken up. Jon Rauch came in from the bullpen and soon after allowed a double to the second batter that he faced. The Twins did manage to get the win and have now built their lead to three games in the American League’s Central Division.
It is the time of year where a team needs to get healthy in order to start making their playoff run. The risk of losing Slowey for a lengthy period of time might have outweighed the fact that he had the chance to get a no hitter. A manager knows it is about the team, and when spring training begins in March every team has the same goal, a World Series title.
Slowey has pitched in 24 games this season with a record of 11-5 and an ERA of 4.22. He is not one of the leagues elite pitchers, in fact many around the league might not know too much about him, a good reason why the no hitter could have been all the more special for him.
“I was a little disappointed. I don’t think it would be possible not to be a little bit disappointed. But I think more than anything I think I was encouraged,” Slowey told ESPN.
Slowey is only the fourth pitcher in the last 20 years to be taken out of the game in the middle of a no hitter. The others were Damian Moss of the ‘02 Braves, David Cone of the ’96 Yanks and Mark Langston of the ’90 Angels.