LOS ANGELES -- If you happened to be watching the Dodgers on TV last night, or you can truthfully say you were one of the 46,069 fans at Dodger Stadium, rest assured: You will never see a better-pitched game than Clayton Kershaw's 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies.
Such a game might not exist. Kershaw’s dominance may have been the best-pitched game of all time, Hanley Ramirez's throwing error the only blemish on what would have been a perfect game. Only one man, Nolan Ryan, had ever struck out as many batters in a no-hitter. Ryan walked between two and eight batters in all seven of his no-hitters.
But if you weren’t there -- or, like 63 percent of Southern Californians, couldn’t watch the game on TV -- there’s always this: Maybe you’ll get another chance. No team has ever thrown three no-hitters in a major-league season, but by knocking off two in their first 74 games (Josh Beckett's came on May 25 in Philadelphia), the Dodgers have given themselves a fighting chance.
One team hadn’t thrown the first two no-hitters of an MLB season since the 1972 Chicago Cubs, when Milt Pappas and Burt Hooton pulled it off. The year after that, Ryan pitched two for the California Angels. In 2010, Roy Halladay pitched two no-hitters for the Philadelphia Phillies, but the second came in the playoffs.
The Dodgers hadn’t had two no-hitters in a season since 1956, when they were still in Brooklyn and Carl Erskine and Sal Maglie pulled it off.
But if you’ve watched the Dodgers rotation in action this season, you know there’s a chance. The Dodgers have the third-best starters ERA in baseball and, now that Kershaw is healthy, they’re improving fast. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly interrupted his postgame comments and openly wondered what the single-season record for no-hitters is by a team.
Mattingly certainly has a point. Ryu took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds the day after Beckett’s no-hitter. In 2009, Greinke set the Kansas City Royals record for strikeouts in a game, 15, and pitched a one-hitter later that season. He certainly has the stuff and the focus. Who knows, if Beckett can throw one at 34, Dan Haren might have one in him at 33.
And, of course, there’s this: Every time Kershaw takes the mound, there’s always a chance.