In Major League Baseball, pitchers are back in command – LA Times


By Bill Shaikin
Los Angeles Times

August 6, 2010

Vicente Padilla took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. That was not a big story, not this year.

In April, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in the history of the Colorado Rockies. On July 26, Matt Garza pitched the first no-hitter in the history of the Tampa Bay Rays, the fifth in the first four months of the season.

The outbreak of no-hitters reflects a larger change in the national pastime. After an era in which the home run was celebrated above all, pitchers have gained the upper hand.

Runs are down. Home runs are down. Strikeouts are up. Scoreboards no longer light up like pinball machines at every glance.

“It’s the time of the pitcher right now,” New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said.

The average runs scored per game per team is at an 18-year low. Runs and hits are on pace to decline for the fifth consecutive season.

No one factor explains the trend, but baseball insiders variously cite an influx of talented young pitchers who throw 98-mph fastballs for strikes, a perception that umpires are calling a bigger strike zone that favors pitchers, better fielding and Major League Baseball’s crackdown on steroid use, which may be speeding the decline of aging sluggers.

The record for no-hitters in a single season is seven, and that could be surpassed this year. Even the record for perfect games