MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Moonshot: No-hit wins, trolling MLB defense, the shortest of porches

The FanSided MLB team is here with another edition of The Moonshot, our weekly newsletter rounding up all the joy of baseball.

Well, we believe in exit velocity, bat flips, launch angles, stealing home, the hanging curveball, Big League Chew, sausage races, and that unwritten rules of any kind are self-indulgent, overrated crap. We believe Greg Maddux was an actual wizard. We believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment protecting minor league baseball and that pitch framing is both an art and a science. We believe in the sweet spot, making WARP not war, letting your closer chase a two-inning save, and we believe love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.

Welcome to The Moonshot.

How do you win a baseball game without getting a hit?

Only a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds could end this way, in the year 2022. The dead-ball era has made its unfortunate return to baseball this season. With hitting down across the league and most with access to the said materials blaming the baseball, you can do the math.

Sunday’s game put an exclamation point on what’s been a lackluster offensive season for not just both of the clubs involved, but the sport as a whole. Pretty much every offensive category is down across the league — including runs, stolen bases, home runs, slugging percentage and more. While colder climates do tend to bring with them offensive struggles, 2022 has offered a new low.

Hunter Greene pitched 7.1 innings of hitless baseball. Art Warren did the rest. The Pirates won on a Ke’Bryan Hayes RBI ground-out, becoming just the sixth team in MLB history to win a baseball game without recording a hit. If that’s not a sign of the times, I’m not sure what is.

Former Pirate Andrew McCutchen expressed his confusion just a few short weeks ago to ESPN: “We’re having conversations like, ‘How did this guy have an exit velo of 96 with a launch angle of 31, and his ball went out, and I had an exit velo of 100 and 28 launch angle and mine didn’t go out?’ … Baseball players aren’t getting any weaker.”

The answer is quite simple, Cutch. It’s the baseball. And until MLB (in this case) progresses to the norm, we’re in for a far less entertaining product.

— Mark Powell

Baseball, but for your ears

Yankees top Orioles 252-4 in showdown at actual Little League park

The New York Yankees’ power bats emerged from their slumber on Monday night, crushing the Baltimore Orioles in a 248-run laugher that lasted a tidy 7 hours and 42 minutes of game time. While on paper, these two teams appeared to be mismatched, the Yankees certainly ran up the score to a historic degree in large part because their at-bats were taken on a small backfield in Williamsport, PA, the home of the Little League World Series. The Orioles, on the other hand, were forced to bat at Camden Yards, just as Rangers manager Chris Woodward insinuated with his postgame comments after the Yankees walked him off Sunday afternoon.

Giancarlo Stanton got the scoring started with a 440-foot three-run home run that would’ve left 30 out of 30 big-league ballparks, but Joey Gallo followed it up with a 220-foot pop-up that also left the yard. Gleyber Torres then struck out, but O’s catcher Anthony Bemboom failed to squeeze a slider in the dirt, which ricocheted off the backstop, around the railing, and over the right-field wall for another stunning homer. After a 42-run first punctuated by a strikeout and fist pump, the two teams trudged back onto their buses for the three-hour drive to the O’s home park in Baltimore.

“It didn’t seem entirely fair that the Yankees were allowed to compete on a different, much smaller playing field from the one we used on offense,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde opined. “Is this what Woodward was talking about? Is this what happened to him? If so, totally get it. If not, and if his team got to hit in the smaller park as well, then I’m left a bit baffled.”

By the time transportation arrived back in Pennsylvania for the top of the second inning, both teams seemed visibly gassed by the trek — though only one was allowed to hit in now-favorable conditions. The Yankees took immediate advantage by bunting 12 consecutive balls into the bleachers, and the O’s couldn’t muster much response in their half of the second — which, again, took place three hours later in a venue triple the size. All 12 of those bunts wouldn’t have left of 99% of MLB ballparks — or, if we are to consider Williamsport’s backfields the 31st stadium, technically that should be 96.78%.

“Kudos to the Rangers for calling out this disparity, and we feel just awful for the Blue Jays, too,” said Bemboom, the O’s catcher who accidentally deflected three baseballs off his shin and over the short porch. “The road team should be allowed to take a crack at the yard with the smaller dimensions.  The beautiful little wall shouldn’t be for Giancarlo Stanton and Giancarlo Stanton alone. And, again, just so I’m clear, the Jays were barred from entering Yankee Stadium and were told to take their home at-bats in Toronto, no doubt?”

“Otherwise,” Bemboom continued, “these guys kind of sound like dipsticks.”

— Adam Weinrib

3 stories from around the MLB Division you need to read

Each week, we’ll highlight three of the biggest stories from the past week in baseball that you need to read. This week’s lightning edition takes you from Boston to LA as we celebrate no-hitters and wallow with a pair of disappointing teams.

Give Noah Syndergaard an E1 for his trolling defense — After Angels rookie Reid Detmers tossed a no-hitter last week, teammate Noah Syndergaard took to Instagram to celebrate, and in the process led more than just the New York media to speculate it was a dig on his former team’s five-pitcher combined no hitter tossed in April. Syndergaard was quick to say it’s just the New York media making it about them, but Tim Boyle of Rising Apple isn’t quite so sure.

Blame for the Tigers’ disastrous start begins at the top — While all the attention was on the Cincinnati Reds, the Detroit Tigers went from being everyone’s favorite longshot pick to the worst record in the American League. Motor City Bengals co-expert Matt Scheidel explored how that happened during a four-part series and says blame begins at the top, owner Chris Ilitch.

Xander Bogaerts trade rumors start to heat up — There’s another big disappointment early in the season: the Red Sox. While Boston wasn’t favored to win the division by many, many experts at least expected them to be in the AL East conversation. Instead, they’re sitting in the cellar and several of their star players look ripe for the picking in a trade. The biggest name among them? Xander Bogaerts, whose tenure in Boston appears set to end after the signing of fellow shortstop Trevor Story and the Sox signaling they’re not likely to meet his deservedly high demands. Tom Balestracci of BoSox Injection explores some of the possibilities in this piece.

— Kurt Mensching

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