While The Perfect Game is rare, a No-Hitter is pretty damn close. Floyd combined a masterful performance with some help from his defense, the end result of which was a great win for the White Sox. There was a little trouble in the first inning, as he walked Brendan Harris and Joe Mauer in back-to-back plate appearances, but no damage was done.
Another walk to Mauer in the fourth led to Minnesota's only run. With Joe on first, Justin Morneau took a strong cut and lined the ball hard into left field. Carlos Quentin appeared to make the catch, but in the next instant the ball slipped from his glove. Michael Cuddyer followed up with a long fly out to right field, advancing Mauer to third, and Jason Kubel completed the hitless scoring opportunity by lifting a sacrifice fly to Nick Swisher in center field. It made the score 2-1, but Floyd wouldn't give the Minnesota offense another opportunity.
Cuddyer described what it was like for hitters in the batters box:
"He had late movement, and that's the best kind you can have," Cuddyer said. "It looks like a strike all the way to the zone and then maybe it falls out. To the naked eye, it looks like we are chasing, but when you're up there, it looks like a strike."
Gavin Floyd's curveball has always been his best pitch, but on Tuesday night his fastball and slider were just as effective. Games like this are what can happen when guys with great stuff, like Floyd, can get it all working at once.
After retiring Brendan Harris on strikes to start the top of the ninth, Joe Mauer stepped in, 0-for-1 with a pair of walks. On a 1-0 count, Floyd's slider broke over the plate and Mauer took advantage. Mauer pushed it, lining the ball into the left-center field gap. Swisher, who had been playing Mauer to pull, was out of position.
Knowing it takes a little luck to put a No-Hitter on your resume, Floyd mentioned he could only do what he could do: throw strikes and get people out. It was Swisher who sounded disappointed when talking about trying to keep that goose egg intact:
"In the sixth, I looked up and realized they didn't have [a hit]...I didn't care if I had to run through the wall to catch it. I was going for it, and tried my best superman impersonation, but I didn't get it. In my mind, it [stinks]. The win was great to get, but I wanted that for Gavin."
That one hit was enough, and Ozzie Guillen lifted Floyd from the game with a 7-1 lead, one out and Joe Mauer standing on second base. It was Mauer's ninth double of the season. Bobby Jenks came on and closed out the ninth.
It wasn't much fun to watch as a Twins fan, but as a baseball fan it's easy to appreciate what Floyd nearly pulled off. We know first hand what it's like to cheer for someone or something that isn't extpected to do too much, and Gavin Floyd's career hasn't exactly gone as it once was projected. Tuesday night he was effective as any pitcher in the game, and he nearly pulled off a No-Hitter.
Having said that, I'm glad Mauer broke it up. It's a small victory, one of those "moral victories", but you take what you can get out of a loss. Game two of the series is tonight, hopefully we can turn it back around and start another winning streak.
[Note by Jesse, 05/07/08 5:39 AM CDT ] Be sure to check out our Q&A with Twins President Dave St. Peter from Tuesday moring!