Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia is not the most pitcher-friendly ballpark. Josh Beckett is also not the most likely pitcher to throw a no-hitter. Sure he has World Series Rings with both the (at the time) Florida Marlins and the Boston Red Sox, but he is not the pitcher he once was. He has almost re-invented himself.
Back in 2003 Beckett had a devastating fastball that could hit as high as 99 mph, the now 34-year old’s fastball tops out around 91 mph according to Fangraphs.com. He’s not the same pitcher he used to be but he proved today that he still has what it takes to dominate. He’s used his curveball 30 percent of the time this season as opposed to 18 percent the last two seasons and going all the way back to 2002-2003, he only used it 15 percent of the time.
He has just found different ways to get guys out, as opposed just throwing heat right past them. His percentage of fastballs? He used it as high as 66 percent of the time in 2008 with the Red Sox. In 2014, that percentage is now down to 35 percent.
Sunday Beckett was at his best. He threw the first no-hitter of the 2014 season. It was the 21st no hitter in Dodgers franchise history and the first for the Los Angeles Dodgers since Hideo Nomo pitched one on September 17, 1996.
It took the right-hander a career high 128 pitches to retire the Phillies. He walked three and struck out six. Beckett retired 23 Phillies in a row before issuing his third walk to Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
The Dodgers bats were going almost as if in support of Beckett’s efforts, scoring six runs in a game where they only would have needed one. They got 11 hits off of Phillies’ pitcher A.J. Burnett who gave up all six runs, only four of them earned, in seven innings of work.
On Sunday in Philadelphia, the Dodger’s offense was running smoothly and efficiently, while Beckett baffled the Phillies’ offense. It ended epically, for the Dodgers at least, as the ninth out had been recorded and Josh Beckett had still not allowed a single hit.