Trust Hurdle on no-hitter debates

PITTSBURGH — “But he had a no-hitter.”

There was a lot of social media consternation Sunday afternoon when Pirates starter Trevor Williams was removed from his start in Detroit after six innings.

Williams hadn’t allowed a hit.

Clint Hurdle thought the pitch count (85) was more important than the zero the Tigers had in the hit column and made the pitching change.

It was a cold, raw day, and the game was also Williams’ first start of the season.

“But he had a no-hitter.”

Yes he did. He had also walked five batters in six innings, which was a career high. Michael Feliz came in to pitch the seventh.

Hurdle said there wasn’t even any debate about leaving Williams in the game beyond the sixth.

“But he had a no-hitter.”

“He wasn’t going to get through nine,” Hurdle said. “That wasn’t an option for him today. There were probably other people who were thinking more about it than we were.”

There certainly were. One Facebook poster said a previous generation of pitchers — he cited Dock Ellis and Steve Blass — wouldn’t have given up the ball with a no-hitter in progress.

Disbelief dominated discussion of the move, and you know why.

“But he had a no-hitter.”

“We’re trying to be realists,” Hurdle said. “Second game of the season with a guy at that point with five walks. That’s a lot to try to take on.”

Hurdle didn’t mention one other detail. The Pirates had a 1-0 lead, which wound up being the final score.

How many times has a pitcher who lost a no-hitter then lost his concentration and let the game get away in quick order?

Winning the game are protecting Williams’ arm were the priorities that should have taken precedence.

Even Williams was OK with that.

“He made the right decision,” Williams said. “It was a 1-0 game and we have a shutdown bullpen. We need to get a ‘W.'”

They did. Credit to Hurdle for his handling of the situation.

Big deal?

No-hitters are big news in the moment and they’re surely a point of pride for a pitcher.

You think no-hitter, you think Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson.

But there are some other names in the record book that lend credence to the belief that no-hitters can be a random occurence for a pitcher who is not quite as memorable.

Does anyone remember Bud Smith’s no-hitter for the Cardinals in 2001? How about Phillip Humber (perfect game in 2012), Chris Heston in 2015 or Henderson Alvarez 2013?

Didn’t think so.

Odd but true

Things that don’t seem quite right:

–The Pirates had to spend five nights in Detroit to play three games.

–Wrestlemania and the final round of The Masters are on the same day.

–Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage went to the mound in the home opener wearing a ski hat rather than a baseball cap.

–Nathan’s (great hot dogs!) are the official hot dog of MLB, yet they’re not available at very many MLB parks.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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