Ken Leighton 12:03 p.m., Jan. 24
Cashner faces the minimum as Padres shut out Pirates
One hit away from perfection, Cashner hurls a gem
The Padres are the only team in Major League Baseball to have never pitched a no-hitter, much less a perfect game, but a peek at the box score will indicate that Andrew Cashner came spectacularly close to both on Monday. The Padres waited until the seventh inning to give Cashner some run support, and the Padres blanked the Pirates, 2-0.
The only Pirates runner that Cashner allowed to reach first base came in the seventh inning, as Joe Tabata led off the bottom of the frame with a single. An out later, Tabata was erased by a double play, and by the time Cashner retired the last out in the bottom of the ninth inning, he had retired the minimum 27 batters that a pitcher can face.
“I owe a lot to my defense tonight, the guys behind me made a lot of plays behind me,” Cashner said in an after-game interview on the field with the Fox Sports San Diego crew. “It was a lot of fun out there tonight.
Pirates starter A.J. Burnett was no slouch, holding the Padres scoreless until the top of the seventh inning, when Ronny Cedeno and Rene Rivera opened with back-to-back singles. Cashner then laid down a bunt, but the throw went to second and Rivera was out, and Cedeno took third with Cashner on first.
Will Venable then hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center field that plated Cedeno with Cashner taking second on the throw, and after Alexi Amarista was hit by a pitch, Jedd Gyorko singled home Cashner and that was all the Padres needed. The rest was all Andrew Cashner.
Still, that no-hitter is elusive for the Padres organization, as there has now been 27 one-hitters in franchise history. Padres fans remain hopeful, as does manager Buddy Black.
“Once he got into the fifth inning, I always think it no matter who the pitcher is,” Black said, postgame, concerning a no-hitter. “The way Cash was throwing and where his pitch count was, the look in his eye, everything set up for a real good game and Burnett was throwing really well, too.”
As the game got deeper, Buddy paid closer attention to the possibility of something special. “It got through the sixth inning, and I’m thinking, hey, nine more outs. Then we got a couple of runs, and I’m thinking, okay, here we go, here’s a real opportunity,” he said.
Tabata then singled just past the diving attempt by first baseman Tommy Medica in the bottom of the seventh and so Padres fans will have to wait until the next opportunity. But it takes nothing away from Cashner’s outstanding performance, easily the best of the year by a Padres starter, and perhaps among the best regular-season efforts ever in the history of the franchise.
The Padres will try to keep up their successful role as spoiler on Tuesday, as the second game of the four game series starts at 4:05 PM PDST. Monday’s loss knocked the Pirates back into a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central, so they’ll try and counter that by sending Jeff Locke (10-5, 3.14) up against Eric Stults (8-13, 4.03) for the Padres. Listen in on radio 1090 AM or watch Fox Sports San Diego for the visuals.