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By Jon Weisman
It’s been nearly 18 years since Dodger fans could exult in a Dodger no-hitter. Thank you, Josh Beckett.
Beckett threw the first Dodger no-hitter in 17 years, eight months and eight days, since Hideo Nomo’s at Colorado on September 17, 1996. The 17 1/2-year gap between no-hitters was the longest in Dodger history, surpassing the 17 years and eight days between Nap Rucker on September 5, 1908 and Dazzy Vance on September 13, 1925.
The right-hander, coming back from an injury-shortened 2013 season, threw 128 pitches. Beckett threw 100 pitches through seven innings, then needed only 16 to get the next five outs. But then we really got down to the nitty gritty.
He was within a strike of completing the no-hitter but lost Jimmy Rollins for a two-out walk in the ninth (Beckett’s third of the game) then fell behind Chase Utley in the count 3-1. But a beautiful 71-mph curveball at 3-1 dipped in for strike two, and then Utley took a strike three on the bottom line of the strike zone for the final out.
Beckett walked Utley in the first inning and Marlon Byrd to lead off the second, but then retired the next 23 batters he faced before the walk to Rollins. Domonic Brown had a hard-hit fly ball to left field in the sixth, but there were no diving plays or near-misses to jeopardize Beckett’s bid for history.
He lowered his ERA for the season to 2.43. Last year, he had a 5.19 ERA in eight starts.
“The surgery’s been a blessing for me,” Beckett said after the game, referring to the operation that ended his 2013 season 10 1/2 months ago.
Beckett surpassed his previous career high in pitches of 126; his high as a Dodger was 113 on May 2. In his most recent start, Tuesday in New York, Beckett threw 99 pitches, his lowest total of the the month.
The best shower of Josh Beckett’s life: pic.twitter.com/ebj9ebB7pZ
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 25, 2014