|Image courtesy of The Star|
The Toronto Blue Jays have a long-standing history of pitchers who have come so incredibly close to throwing a no-hitter. Of course, there’s Dave Stieb who was just one strike away in back-to-back starts.
There’s Roy Halladay who was one strike away from a perfect game in his second big league start. And then there was Dustin McGowan who also flirted with a no-hitter when he was just two outs away in 2007.
Brandon Morrow added himself to that lengthy list of near no-hitters by a Blue Jay, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of for that. For this week’s Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Brandon Morrow’s one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 8th, 2010.
I said it the day following this incredible performance, but from the onset of that game, it felt like something magical was going to happen on the field that day. And early on, it certainly seemed like Brandon Morrow was destined to make history that day.
In case you need a refresher, check out the quick synopsis of Morrow’s start via this video recap below.
I feel like this is one of those polarizing “where were you” moments for Blue Jays fans of this era. I can almost pinpoint exactly where I was when I heard that Brandon Morrow’s ho-hitter was broken up.
It was raining, and I was on my way to my parents for some sort of family gathering. The radio coverage was spotty on the drive, but I managed to find a frequency that wasn’t completely fuzzy. With two out in the ninth, I pulled over on a country road to listen what would be the only hit by the Rays that day.
Relive in agony as Evan Longoria breaks up Brandon Morrow’s no-hitter.
Like many fans, part of me was hoping that the official scorer might give Morrow a break and score it an error in order to keep the no-hitter in tact, but alas … there was the number one in the hit column for the Rays.
Try as he may, Aaron Hill could not keep the ball in front of him and the grounder deflected off his torso and into the outfield. Hill made a heck of a play just to get to the ball, so I can’t fault him for not being able to come up with it.
While it must be incredibly deflating for a starting pitcher to come so close to a no-hitter, Brandon Morrow got right back to work and emphatically struck out Dan Johnson to finish the game and cap off a complete game one-hitter. After all, Morrow was still protecting a razor-thin one run lead.
Also, thanks to @NoWaveJays for reminding me about a spectacular catch that Vernon Wells made to preserve the no-hitter in the top of the 6th inning.
Brandon Morrow’s reaction to the catch is just one of pure and sheer astonishment. It was as if Morrow couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Wells crashed into the centre field wall and was diagnosed with what would be discovered as a dislocated toe. The situation was very akin to the catch that DeWayne Wise made in centre field to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game as well.
The funny thing is Wise was there for both instances, as he was playing left field for the Blue Jays that game and watched Vernon Wells make that incredible catch firsthand. Wells had to exit the game the following inning, and Wise took over in centre for the 7th while Travis Snider was a defensive replacement in left field.
That game marked many firsts for Brandon Morrow: it was not only the first complete and shutout of his career, but it was also Morrow’s first start in which he struck out 12 or more batters. Brandon would finish the day with 17 K’s in total.
That 17 strikeout performance ranks second all-time for Blue Jays pitchers, just one behind Roger Clemens franchise record of 18 strikeouts in a single game … some pretty illustrious company.
Morrow induced 24 swinging strikes total that afternoon, and remarkably 14 of his 17 strikeouts were swinging strikeouts. Here’s Morrow’s final pitching line for the game:
|Brandon Morrow, W (9-6)||9||1||0||0||2||17||0||4.45||31||137||97||52||20||25||3||9||1||0||100|
Incredibly, he managed to strike out 17 Rays batters and finished with a Game score of 100. Just as a frame of reference, the highest possible Game score a pitcher can register is 114; and that’s if he strikes out all 27 batters in order.
Brandon Morrow’s one-hitter marked a turning point in his career. Up until that game, Morrow had a fledgling journey flipping back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. Once he one-hit the Tampa Bay Rays, there was no question that he was meant to be a starting pitcher.
The one-hitter may have been Brandon Morrow’s Moby Dick that got away, but I don’t doubt that he will eventually bag the white whale that got away from him on August 8th, 2010.