Posted: 10:23 pm Friday, April 18th, 2014

Aaron Harang: No no-hitter, but what an April! 

By Mark Bradley

Aaron Harang, the hitless wonder. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Aaron Harang, the hitless wonder. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

I know why Fredi Gonzalez did it. He’d gotten a fourth great start from Aaron Harang, who might not have a big-league job if the elbows of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy hadn’t come unhinged on consecutive spring-training days, and Harang had labored through the seventh inning, recording the game’s 21st out with his 121st pitch. At the rate he was going, he’d have needed maybe 150 pitches to post the Atlanta Braves’ third one-man no-hitter, and that’s too many for anybody.

Yes, it would have been fun to see him try, but the Braves didn’t sign Harang — who arrived here with a career losing record and who was seen simply as a (slightly) cheaper version of Freddy Garcia, the journeyman’s journeyman — to provide one night’s worth of memories. They need him to eat innings. Trouble is, he’s eating innings with such dispatch that the Associated Press has had to break out the No-Hit Alert twice in his four starts.

That was the dilemma Gonzalez faced Friday in Queens, N.Y., though it really wasn’t much of a choice. If Harang had gotten through the eighth at 121 pitches, I’m pretty sure his manager would have given him the chance to complete his work. But he still needed two innings, and for a team that keeps losing pitchers — even Craig Kimbrel was rested this week with an ouchy shoulder — the lure of an historic Friday in Queens wasn’t enough to trump health and common sense.

Still, it was delicious while it lasted. The first Atlanta Brave to throw a solo no-hitter was Phil Niekro, which you’d have expected. The second was Kent Mercker, the fifth starter on perhaps the greatest rotation ever. Mercker is actually in the Braves’ record book twice for no-nos, having thrown six hitless innings in a spot start on Sept. 11, 1991, when the Braves needed every precious game to stay ahead of the hated Dodgers.

Mark Wohlers worked the seventh and eighth, and Alejandro Pena, with help from a dubious error assessed against Terry Pendleton, finished the tripartite no-hitter, which somehow didn’t feel quite like a real no-hitter. (I was there.)  Indeed, Pena was so unmoved that he tossed the game ball into the stands. (It was hastily retrieved.)

After Harang was lifted, the Braves had a chance to finish another combo platter, but Luis Avilan hung a breaking ball to David Wright, and the only real Mets hitter did what real hitters do with hanging breaking balls. It’s a bit of a shame such an overstuffed night — if not for Wright’s single, we’d be talking about the apparently incorrect out call at first base against Travis d’Arnaud in the second inning — ended with such a relative whimper, but still: Aaron Harang!

He was cut by the Cleveland Indians in March. He has started four games for the Braves, working 25 2/3 innings, yielding two earned runs. If you’re looking for the National League’s absolute best pitcher of April 2014, here he is.

36 comments
bjbethel
bjbethel moderator

Terry Pendleton? I prefer Marc Pendleton.

CMGO_Otis
CMGO_Otis moderator

God, this is stupid.

hmcnabb
hmcnabb

Trying this again...

Doug Miller
Doug Miller

Who would have thought harang still had any gas left?

Daniel#12
Daniel#12

150 pitches too many for anybody?  How many pitches did Warren Spahn throw in his 15 inning loss to San Francisco and Juan Marichal when Spahn was 42 or 43 years old? (Hint-over 200).  If a 42 or 43 three old man can throw 200+ pitches (and then start again with 3 days rest) it does seem Harang should have been given the opportunity to continue until he gave up a hit or completed his gem.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

...... and only 4 of 44 ESPN bozos picked the Braves to win the National League East. 

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Harang is the man. He should have another no hit bid in another start from now. I'm sure fredi was thinking that we he pulled him. Go braves.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

These pitchers don't get better without some help and support.  Someday someone is going to discover that Roger McDowell is one heck of a pitching coach.  Seems we hear every year about the Braves starting pitchers ERA and the great bullpen work, but never much about ole Roger. 

Rilo
Rilo

Forrest for the trees. Good manager but a Horrible, horrible, horrible decision to bring in a non-strike out pitcher with no confidence into that situation. You had Carpenter, Walden, Varvaro ready and maybe Kimbrel. All of those with swing and miss capability.

If this was New York ,St Louis or Boston, the media would have broken that decision down and criticized the manager for it.

Did we? Probably not.

DrPhill
DrPhill

Like Harang and everyone else, I was horrified when Fredi put Avilan in the game. It worked out ok, this time. Avilan had been a decent pitcher in the past. I hope we see more of Shafer. I like his hustle. 

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

@Rilo - thanks for mentioning that. I agreed it was wise to lift Harang when Freddie did. And I know it was important to get Avilan back out there to get the bad outing behind him... But in a no hitter situation? And like you said - bringing in a lefty to face consecutive right handed hitters? Didn't make no hitter sense, and it didn't make competitive sense.

... That being said, if you look at the w/l record and pitching stats over the past few years, Gonzales and McDowell have been fantastic. People love to bash coaches, but I'm thankful for what we have in Atlanta.

Rilo
Rilo

WHY BRING IN THE WORST PITCHER ON THE BRAVES STAFF (Avilan) WHO JUST HAD THE WORST OUTING OF HIS CAREER THE PREVIOUS GAME? That was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. And Avilan was a lefty, going up against three right handed hitters in the 8th. Why did this question not get asked? Horrible call and horrible journalism.

Remarkable3
Remarkable3

I'm loving these Braves.  I was soooo hoping for another combined no-hitter.

58Supersports
58Supersports

!00% right Mark... will said. Go Braves and great job Harang.

kenstallings
kenstallings

You think the Cleveland Indians are having some staff meetings right about now?

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

@Daniel#12

And if Harang needed rotator cuff surgery next week, you would be screaming about how could any idiot leave him in the game after two such surgeries already this year.

JackPod
JackPod

@Daniel#12 Speaking of Warren Spahn, over his career he pitched 383 complete games and won 363, the highest of any left hander in the history of baseball. Today's pitchers are whimps in comparison. Bob Feller in his hey day one season started 42 games and pitched 36 complete games while posting a 27-6 record.    

maxman2660
maxman2660

agree about mcdowell,leo mazzone looked like genuis with smoltz,glavine and maddux not so much afterward,but mcdowell has done much more with less

Prince Rapscallion
Prince Rapscallion

@Rilo  

Freddy's job is to win games -- not create memories (necessarily). He did the most prudent thing. He got Avilan some good work in after he had given up 5 or 6 runs against the Phils in his last start. He put him back on the horse with a 6 run cushion, got that 13.00 ERA down to something that doesn't look so embaressing on the scoreboard, and got the win. A win's a win. Sure, I would have liked to have seen the no-no, but not at the expense of spending Carpenter and a sore Kimbrel in a 6 to nothing game. Go Braves. 

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@DrPhill  You were "horrified" when Fredi put in a guy who had a sub-2 ERA last year and who has been fine in every game except for 1?

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

@Rilo  Because prior to that ONE GAME, he's had over 100 innings with a 2.12 ERA. And it was not 3 right handed hitters. It was a switch hitter, a lefty, and a righty.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

Are you comparing Harang with Spahn and Feller? I'm sure he is flattered but Harang wants to win a ring more than individual awards. So does Fredi and so do most Braves fans. The win last night counts towards that.

oldcrackerfan
oldcrackerfan

@jeffreyd @DrPhill  

Might as well get used to it.  Some people would call Fredi an idiot if the Braves won the WS.   I just did a little research at baseball-reference.  Here's a list of the winning percentages of every current major league manager. There are thirty of them, so to save space, I'm only listing the ones over .500.

Matheny--.588

Girardi--.566

Sciosia--.543

Washington--.543

Mattingly--.538

Gonzalez--.535

Francona--.532

Roenicke--..527

Maddon--.522

Showalter--.515

Melvin--.515

Farrell--.513

Gardenhire--.513

Gibson--.502

Bochy--.500

Tentative conclusions....  

1.  Gonzalez is 6th out of thirty, and there are eleven active managers with losing records.  

2.  I'm glad these bitc*ers and moaners aren't living in one of the eleven cities that have one of those losing managers--and I'm not living there with them.

3.  I wonder what these experts' records would be as an MLB manager.

4.  I think I'm wasting my time with these people.  They B&M because they B&M.

5.  There are two famous maxims.   1)  There are lies, da*n lies, and statistics.  2)  Numbers never lie.  Some people will find a way to discount Freddi's winning record; some won't.

 

Polskidawg
Polskidawg

@jeffreyd @Rilojeffreyd - you are attempting to reason with the unreasonable. You'll only frustrate yourself. Remember, blogs are the haunt of those who state emotionally charged and unfounded opinion as fact.