Nice outing by Cory Luebke on Monday night at Coors Field, eh? Luebke and Ernesto Frieri combined to spin the 25th one-hitter in Padres history.
The only blemish was a two-run homer to dead center off the bat of Rockies second baseman Mark Ellis. Luebke fell behind in the count, 3-1, and then grooved a fastball out over the plate that Ellis crushed.
Luebke worked from behind for much of the game. He went to three-ball counts on each of the first three batters he faced and 10 of 25 overall on the night. Twice he fell behind San Diego native Ty Wigginton, 3-0, and came back to strike him out. Although such feats are impressive in their way, they also caused Luebke to burn through 119 pitches in 7 innings.
Ellis, for his part, joins a short list of individuals who have ruined a potential Padres no-hitter with a home run. There have been five:
Date Opp Pitcher Batter 9/18/71 @SF Clay Kirby Willie McCovey 4/10/89 Atl Bruce Hurst Lonnie Smith 9/22/06 Pit Chris Young Joe Randa 7/29/09 @Cin Mat Latos Jerry Hairston Jr. 9/19/11 @Col Cory Luebke Mark Ellis
I was at the Randa game. The guy next to me kept yelling in my ear that Young was throwing a no-hitter. Maybe he thought my lack of reaction meant I didn’t understand the significance of such an event, but of course, I just wanted him to stop talking about no-hitters. I probably should have acknowledged him sooner.
Young’s game came a couple days before Trevor Hoffman broke Lee Smith’s career saves mark. The Padres were headed to the playoffs for the second straight season. Those were good times.
Sometimes I wonder what might have happened had the Padres hung on in 2007 and/or 2010. It could have altered San Diegans’ perception of their team. Then again, maybe not. We will never know. But we will have good times again…
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My latest at Baseball Prospectus ($) focuses on Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook but includes a fun tidbit about Padres southpaw Wade LeBlanc, who is the all-time single-season srikeout leader among pitchers born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lest you think I am offering LeBlanc a backhanded compliment, consider that one of those pitchers, Ted Lyons, is in the Hall of Fame.
Lyons is ranked 43rd among pitchers in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. James cites Lyons as MLB’s best pitcher of 1927 and also notes that the right-hander went to Baylor on a trombone scholarship that didn’t work out as planned:
…at a football game againt Texas A&M a fight broke out, and Lyons put down his trombone to participate in the fight. His trombone was crushed in the melee, and Lyons lost his scholarship.
That is unfortunate, although enshrinement in Cooperstown makes for a nice consolation prize. LeBlanc should be so lucky…