FanDuel - WFBC

May 19, 2008

Lester throws majors' first no-hitter of season as Red Sox rock Royals: The 24-year-old lefty, who survived cancer to pitch the clincher of Boston's 2007 World Series victory, shut down Kansas City 7-0 Monday night for the first no-hitter in the majors this season.

posted by smithnyiu to baseball at 08:49 PM - 42 comments

Still trying to choke back the tears as NESN repeats the last out over and over. First Red Sox LHP to throw a no hitter since Mel Parnell in '56. This is Varitek's 4th time catching a no hitter (Nomo in 2001, Lowe in 2002, Buccholz in 2007, Lester) - a major league record.

posted by jerseygirl at 08:54 PM on May 19

Just the second time the Royals have been no hit. Lester joins Nolan Ryan (1973). Red Sox are now tied with the Yankees and the Marlins for most no-hitters - 4 - since 1993. Haven't been able to find it in print, but on the 10 o'clock news, they said Jon Lester's girlfriend brought her parents to the park tonight to meet her boyfriend for the first time.

posted by jerseygirl at 09:12 PM on May 19

Haven't been able to find it in print, but on the 10 o'clock news, they said Jon Lester's girlfriend brought her parents to the park tonight to meet her boyfriend for the first time. "Aren't you impressed with my boyfriend now, Dad?" "Pfft. It was the Royals."

posted by grum@work at 09:32 PM on May 19

I had the privilege of watching the last inning with my 5 year old daughter (born in Boston ... obviously a Red Sox fan), and screaming at the top of our lungs with each out. She wondered why I was crying with the last strike ... wasn't I happy? Priceless, all the way around. Way to go Jon.

posted by smithnyiu at 09:33 PM on May 19

jerseygirl: This is Varitek's 4th time catching a no hitter (Nomo in 2001, Lowe in 2002, Buccholz in 2007, Lester) - a major league record.
Outside of Boston, Tek does not get enough credit for being a great pitcher's catcher. Wow- as a Seattleite, I didn't even know this happened, but they must be going absolutely batshit over at SonsOfSamHorn.net. Gonna have to set the DVR to catch Baseball Tonight...

posted by hincandenza at 09:48 PM on May 19

This is Varitek's 4th time catching a no hitter (Nomo in 2001, Lowe in 2002, Buccholz in 2007, Lester) - a major league record. Don't forget Devern Hansack's 5 inning no-no in 2006. I know it doesn't count, but it was an official game

posted by mmoschella at 09:56 PM on May 19

Outside of Boston, Tek does not get enough credit for being a great pitcher's catcher. Wow- as a Seattleite, I didn't even know this happened Just think, Hal, you could be seeing Varitek more regularly in person if the trade that shall not be named (at least to Seattle fans) had never happened. I'm sure the Red Sox fan in you has made peace with that, though. Great for Lester. I unfortunately tuned into NESN on Extra Innings just as he was hugging teammates. Wonderful story. I know you can't judge these things based on short term accomplishments, but I'm sure Boston fans are glad tonight that Lester didn't go over to the Twins in a deal for Santana.

posted by holden at 09:59 PM on May 19

This is Varitek's 4th time catching a no hitter (Nomo in 2001, Lowe in 2002, Buccholz in 2007, Lester) - a major league record. Don't forget Schilling: "We get two outs, and I was sure, and I had a plan, and I shook Tek off," Schilling said. "And I get a big 'What if?' for the rest of my life." 2 out in the 9th ... Should be 5.

posted by smithnyiu at 10:44 PM on May 19

holden: Just think, Hal, you could be seeing Varitek more regularly in person if the trade that shall not be named (at least to Seattle fans) had never happened. I'm sure the Red Sox fan in you has made peace with that, though.
Lowe and Varitek for Slocumb? Yeah, somehow the Sox fan in me has come to terms with that trade... :) smithnyiu: I'd forgotten about that Schilling game. Too bad Schilling didn't attend the Crash Davis School of pitching...

posted by hincandenza at 12:04 AM on May 20

Too bad Schilling didn't attend the Crash Davis School of pitching... Never shake off your catcher when you've got a no-hitter going? I'd go along with that. Lester's story is like a low-key fairy tale -- like a no-hitter in the works, I almost don't want to look too closely for fear of jinxing the whole thing. But I'll permit myself a quiet cheer.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:09 AM on May 20

I had the game on NESN last night as my wife and I finished dinner. I really was only half watching as I chatted with the Chief-of-Staff, cleared the table, putzed around the house, etc. It was as the Royals were retired in the 6th that I first noticed the 0 under the H column. Right there, I told wife to knock it off, I was going to be occupied for a while (she got hooked on it too). It seemed like the Fenway crowd got a little louder on each out, and the crescendo in the 9th was augmented by the thousands screaming at their TV sets. Considering what Lester had been through in the last couple of years, I was damn near in tears at the final strikeout. Varitek's accomplishment of being the only catcher to have caught 4 no-hitters is remarkable. As Hal I points out, Varitek is probably the best handler of pitchers in MLB. To add to it all, I believe he had a home run last night. I'm old enough to have watched Mel Parnell's no-hitter (on TV) in Fenway in 1956. The final out in that one came on a tapper back to the first base side of the mound. Parnell fielded it cleanly, ran toward the bag while frantically waving off the first baseman, and made the play himself.

posted by Howard_T at 09:02 AM on May 20

Martinez took a no-hitter into the ninth with Varitek catching on August 29th, 2000, and made the same mistake Schilling did. (Pedro's had lousy luck with no hitters; he's taken two into the ninth and took a perfect game into the tenth.) So Varitek's caught four no-hitters, one abbreviated five inning no-hitter, and been within sniffing distance of another two. Quite the catcher.

posted by Bryant at 09:43 AM on May 20

Varitek's accomplishment of being the only catcher to have caught 4 no-hitters Well, the only one to do it officially. That rule change a few years back screwed up all absolute statements about no-hitters.

posted by yerfatma at 09:48 AM on May 20

Well, the only one to do it officially. In baseball, isn't that what it's all about anyways? Like Barry Bonds is 'officially' the Home Run King, Pete Rose is 'officially' the Hit King and Roger Clemens 'officially' screwed over his reputation.

posted by BornIcon at 10:03 AM on May 20

No.

posted by yerfatma at 02:53 PM on May 20

Watching 2 in 2 years, that's pretty cool. As Hal I points out, Varitek is probably the best handler of pitchers in MLB. I love tek (even though he tends to kill me at the plate). He belongs in the sox hall of fame, and it'll be a sad day when he's no longer behind the plate. But is there anything to back that up? I hear it all the time but never see anything given as proof. If it's just a hunch, great (though it certainly means much less than if backed up), but tek seems to get a lot of credit for great pitching, but the next time the sox have a pitcher blow up in the fourth inning you won't hear anyone blame tek. When beckett gave up 4 home runs his last game I never heard tek's name mentioned.

posted by justgary at 04:33 PM on May 20

But is there anything to back that up? I hear it all the time but never see anything given as proof. Not really, if you mean statistically. There's Catcher ERA, but no one really talks about it anymore, mainly because there's no good baseline to compare one catcher to another: every starting C catches a different staff and the backup catcher usually has too small a sample size to compare against. Every manager and every pitching coach and most every pitcher the Sox have had since he got here has said he 's terrific, but I don't know of a way to quantify it.

posted by yerfatma at 07:38 PM on May 20

You guys bring up an interesting point about how a catcher's value is more than meets the eye. While there hasn't been a no-no since Bud Smith in STL, Yadier Molina's ability to call a game has been huge for the Cards. Like Varitek, there has been some struggles at the plate, but their defense and ability to handle a staff makes it easy to overlook the AVG. (most of the time) I'd love to see a catcher's stat that could some how put this measure in the proper perspective. I'm not one for computing stats, but what if you measured a pitchers overall performance with and without Varitek. Take the difference and assign it to Varitek, then take Varitek's numbers and compare against the other C's. (I know the quality of pitching staffs could have a lot to do with this, but I won't be looking for a stat job any time soon, so feel free to call me a loon.) By the way, congrats to Jon Lester!

posted by BoKnows at 08:09 PM on May 20

Which sounds a lot like catchers ERA that yerfatma mentioned.

posted by BoKnows at 08:23 PM on May 20

Wow. Thanks for that, yerfatma. Honestly, I haven't read much of Bill James' work or studies like Woolner's, and I usually have to read them twice to understand it, but I find it all very interesting. I like stats and usually watch them closer than most, but in cases like this, I was pulling for the catchers. Mentally, there has to be some effect from catcher to pitcher.

posted by BoKnows at 11:20 PM on May 20

Absolutely, it's just no one has figured out how to measure it.

posted by yerfatma at 07:13 AM on May 21

I can't see how one would measure it other than through pitching stats, which are probably influenced much more by the quality of the pitcher rather than the catcher.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:20 PM on May 21

Absolutely, it's just no one has figured out how to measure it. I don't think there is a statistical way to measure a catcher's influence on the pitcher. If you are willing to look at every pitch of every game, you might be able to get an idea. What you would need to do is determine what pitch the catcher called for, and see if the pitcher actually threw that pitch. More importantly, look at where the catcher sets his glove, and where the pitch ends up. If the pitcher is following the catcher's pitch selection without shaking off the sign (although some pitchers use the shake off to make the batter think something different is about to happen), and the pitch is hitting the mitt, then the catcher is indeed controlling the game. In this case, the responsibility for any bad result should be placed squarely on the catcher. If a pitcher shakes off signs and does not consistently place the pitch where the catcher wants it, then the pitcher is responsible for a poor outing.

posted by Howard_T at 03:24 PM on May 21

Every manager and every pitching coach and most every pitcher the Sox have had since he got here has said he 's terrific I know, and I'd rather have varitek behind the plate than anyone else. I'm sure he does a good job, I'm sure he's well prepared, I doubt all those people are wrong. I don't think that necessarily translates to varitek being better than another catcher. I don't think pitchers liking him as their catcher proves anything more than they like varitek. To expand my first comment I had two ideas in mind. 1. Not that Varitek doesn't deserve praise, but that i haven't seen any proof he deserves it above others. To go along with no blame when his pitchers do badly, it's amazing that no other catcher gets this type of praise. During the recent Indian span of shutout innings I heard nothing about the catching. If we're going by results shouldn't he get some praise? 2. Even if Varitek is better than your average signal caller, I doubt the difference is all that significant. Reading your links yerfatma (thanks) I don't feel the need to change my views.

posted by justgary at 05:05 PM on May 21

I think the thing about Varitek that the pitchers value is his preparation for each game. He spends a lot of time looking at tape of the opponent's batters looking for their strengths and weaknesses. Do they hit breaking balls better than fast balls? Do they hit the inside pitch or the outside pitch better? Can they take an outside pitch to the opposite field? Then he looks at his starting pitcher for the next game and compares his strengths and weaknesses to those of each batter. The result is Varitek's game plan. I have heard of no other catcher that spends as much time in preparation as Varitek, but that's not to say there aren't many. Of course, all the preparation for a game means nothing if the pitcher has no consistent command of one or more of his pitches during any part of a game. That's what makes the catcher's contribution unquantifiable.

posted by Howard_T at 05:21 PM on May 21

I think simultaneously, one can overrate and underrate the role of the catcher. He does a lot - but I'm quite sure a catcher isn't going to turn a guy into Cy Young by calling the right game. Pitchers pitch. That said, his position is one where he gets to look at all of his teammates when they're on the field. So creepy. All squatty like that, just staring at everyone and wearing a mask. I also think that Varitek is the most overrated catcher in the game. The man receives so much praise that people can overlook the fact that he can't hit at even half his former rate.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:27 PM on May 21

but I'm quite sure a catcher isn't going to turn a guy into Cy Young by calling the right game. Pitchers pitch. While I agree with that statement to a certain extent, I also believe his last two no-hitters he caught were tossed by young kids who don't know the opponents tendencies, or even how to pick up a girl yet. Howard_T made a great point of how hard he studies and how to apply that to the short porch in right and the easy single off the Monster. He told Lester what to throw 130 times in a row, and the Royals hit right to the defense. Just sayin ...

posted by smithnyiu at 06:23 PM on May 21

I have heard of no other catcher that spends as much time in preparation as Varitek But I don't hear of another catcher as much as Varitek period. I doubt if Varitek played for the marlins we'd be hearing about his preparation, yet he'd still be doing it. So I don't see the fact that we don't hear about catcher [insert name here] doing as much preparation means much. I get nervous with abilities that are difficult to measure. Without the relatively recent popularity of defensive statistics we'd still believe Jeter was a great fielding shortstop. And this was from coaches and players. They're no infallible in their opinions. Howard_T made a great point of how hard he studies and how to apply that to the short porch in right and the easy single off the Monster. He told Lester what to throw 130 times in a row, and the Royals hit right to the defense. And in buchholz's last game he went 4.1 innings giving up 7 earned runs. Varitek called every single one of those pitches also and the ball was not hit into the defense. Are we to blame varitek's pitch selection? Or does his preparation only come into play when the pitcher is successful. That just doesn't make sense. What does make sense is that the quality of the pitch is far more important than anything Varitek does in calling the game. The man receives so much praise that people can overlook the fact that he can't hit at even half his former rate. Plenty of people that follow the sox have noticed the dropoff. That said, going into tonight he was hitting .290 and slugging .492 with an OPS of .854. That OPS is better than A.J. Pierzynski, Joe Mauer, Víctor Martínez, and Iván Rodríguez. His career average is .268. Career slugging is .449. So right now I ain't complaining (and he's on pace for over 20 home runs).

posted by justgary at 07:10 PM on May 21

Varitek called every single one of those pitches also and the ball was not hit into the defense. Are we to blame varitek's pitch selection? Or does his preparation only come into play when the pitcher is successful. Not to belabor the point, because I think the pitcher is the one who actually executes, but I think the differences between his no-no and coughing up 7 earned runs in 4 is he didn't do what he was told. Tek said outside, Clay caught more of the plate. When a pitcher is on, he's on. Calling the pitch is something different.

posted by smithnyiu at 09:28 PM on May 21

but I think the differences between his no-no and coughing up 7 earned runs in 4 is he didn't do what he was told. Well, Varitek has it made then, doesn't he? Good results, Varitek called a good game. Bad results, Varitek still called a good game, just bad pitching. We'll have to agree to disagree. Yes, Varitek can't help it if a ball that should be up and end ends up over the middle of the plate. But Varitek could also call for a fastball when the hitter could be looking fastball. So though I have no idea how much, a certain amount of blame certainly falls on Vartitek when the pitching goes bad. He's human, he gets out-guessed sometimes. A big part of hitting and pitching is outguessing the other. Sometimes a hitter guesses correct and jumps all over the pitch. If Varitek is calling every pitch, that's partly on him. And a certain amount of credit also goes to Varitek when the pitching is good. I'm not fighting that Varitek is good, or better than the average catcher. But I think his contribution behind the plate can be overstated. Bottom line, a good staff is going to put up good stats, and bad staff bad stats, Varitek or no Varitek. off topic/ Varitek's slugging percentage is higher than every american league starting catcher. Mmmhmm, weedy :)

posted by justgary at 10:29 PM on May 21

his last two no-hitters . . . were tossed by young kids who don't know the opponents tendencies, or even how to pick up a girl yet Dunno about Lester, but Clay needs no help from Tek there. [NSFW] I have to agree with gary here: whatever his other talents, it sometimes seems Varitek's best quality is where he plays his home games, a town that inflates its heroes almost as well as it excoriates its villains. The combination of playing in Boston and wearing the Tools of Ignorance has turned Varitek into a folk hero and the player of choice for the majority of female Sox fans (both hardcore and Pink Hat divisions) for his perceived everyman qualities.

posted by yerfatma at 08:26 AM on May 22

justgary, yerfatma: I hear what you are saying. I was just defending the fact that the catcher plays a role in the outcome of the game. How to quantify that is tough. But don't devalue the role by making it sound like you or I could catch the game and have the same outcome. Also, I was cracking on Jon and Clay's age because they look 13 on the mound ... or I am just getting really fucking old. I know they both have hotties on their arms and a few in reserves. also off topic: Why can't Tek catch Wakefield? Is his reaction slow? Or is it a feel thing? Always wondered.

posted by smithnyiu at 09:39 AM on May 22

also off topic: Why can't Tek catch Wakefield? Is his reaction slow? Or is it a feel thing? Always wondered I really don't think it's either one. Having a personal catcher for Wakefield is a good excuse for giving Varitek a day off every 5th day. Catching a knuckelballer is more of a workout than catching a conventional pitcher, so there's no sense in killing your regular guy. To once again say what I've been trying to get across, a catcher's contribution to a pitcher's success is unquantifiable. The only way to measure the relative effectiveness of 2 catchers would be to have them catch the same pitching staff over the course of an entire season. You might be able to do it with 2 comparable staffs, but I'm not sure even that would work.

posted by Howard_T at 10:57 AM on May 22

off topic/ Varitek's slugging percentage is higher than every american league starting catcher. Mmmhmm, weedy :) Yeah. I know! And he went 2-3 last night with a dinger. Stupid sexy Varitek. Making me look bad. See? What a jerk.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:32 PM on May 22

More on Varitek: John Farrell, the Red Sox pitching coach, said Varitek’s habit of coaxing no-hitters out of his battery mates was not mere luck. “He’s got a photographic memory and just a true feel for what the hitter is doing in the batter’s box in a given at-bat,” he said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “Second, third, fourth time through the lineup, he’s well aware of the sequences that he’s called in the previous at-bats. If adjustments are needed with pitch selection, he has the recall to make that on the fly.” Varitek is said to be more vocal in scouting meetings than even the team’s coaches, and he can be seen before games sorting through scouting reports as if studying for a test.

posted by justgary at 11:54 PM on May 22

He's going to be an awesome manager someday.

posted by jerseygirl at 07:05 AM on May 23

See what I mean? Women can't resist him.

posted by yerfatma at 10:49 AM on May 23

Lowell has surpassed Varitek as my "everyman hero."

posted by jerseygirl at 11:57 AM on May 23

Varitek Testicle Count > Lowell Testicle Count Call 'em even.

posted by yerfatma at 12:31 PM on May 23

Lester's father has cancer now.

posted by jerseygirl at 04:26 PM on May 25

The article says it is highly treatable so that's good at least.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:53 PM on May 25

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