It's a tricky business, writing up a no-hitter. You want to make it mean something, you want to assign importance to it. Except baseball doesn't work like that. The difference between a hit and an out is a millimeter here, a millimeter there. A fraction of a fraction of a second too soon is an out; a fraction-of-a-fraction-of-a-second hesitation is a single through the right side. No-hitters all have a component of luck, every single one, and the achievement doesn't have to mean anything.
This one does: It simply reminds you that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball.
There was luck, blind luck, as there is with every no-hitter. Josh Rutledge made solid contact against Kershaw on a couple of different occasions, including a swing in the eighth that produced a line drive that was foul by just a couple feet. The next batter was Kyle Parker, clearly a create-a-player generated by a computer, and he lined a ball right to Adrian Gonzalez for the 24th out of the night.
Yet Clayton Kershaw, throughout, was the best pitcher in baseball.
He was also the most likely pitcher in baseball to pitch a no-hitter on Wednesday night. Especially at home, especially against a Rockies team that struggles to hit away from Coors Field. Away from Coors, the Rockies have trouble hitting Todd Van Poppel throwing with his left arm. It's easy to pooh-pooh the idea of a pitcher throwing a no-hitter in a pitcher's park against the perfect victim. Kershaw was smashing beetles with rocks just because he could.
Then you get to the part where Clayton Kershaw is, and has been for at least a couple of years, the best pitcher in baseball.
Take the no-hitters-don't-mean-anything talk and cram it. They don't have to mean anything -- Josh Beckett is Josh Beckett is Josh Beckett -- but they can illuminate something you were ignoring for whatever reason. Kershaw started the post-Australia season on the disabled list, and when he came back, he allowed a few more runs than everyone was used to him allowing. That meant there were sexier, fresher options for the BPIB label. Was it Masahiro Tanaka? Chris Sale? Yu Darvish? Darvish seemed like a good choice.
That was when Clayton Kershaw shot his grapple-hook into rafters and asked you to come with him if you wanted to live. Because he's the best pitcher in baseball, and you should be ashamed if you think differently.
Let's talk about Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever your winter holiday of choice is. You don't need the holiday to know you love your family. You don't need the holiday to prove anything. If you get snowed in at the airport and miss the dinner, your love-o-meter doesn't start beeping because it's getting low. You don't need that special validation. But when you're in the thick of it, when you're wearing a crappy sweater and chuckling at your niece's tics and quirks as she tears through wrapping paper, you acknowledge the idea of family just a tidge more, even if just subconsciously.
It's like that with Clayton Kershaw, who is better than other pitchers. You didn't need a no-hitter to know that he's good. You didn't need a sequence of 27 or 28 hitters to know that he's the pitcher most capable of harnessing a combination of stuff and command that's harder to hit than anyone else's.
When it comes, though, appreciate it for what it is. The best pitcher in baseball just threw the best game of his life. He had a whiffle-curve and a dominating fastball. Koji Uehara thrives with that kind of command and a 90-mph fastball. Kershaw takes that kind of command, adds four feet, and abuses hitters like few have in the last couple decades.
True Blue LA
(Quick intermission to remind everyone that the Rockies had the option of drafting Kershaw, but a team of people on the Rockies' payroll thought about it and said, no, no, Greg Reynolds could move quickly and help us out a lot sooner.)
If you're still skeptical about the idea of a no-hitter, that balls in play should find the occasional hole, focus on the 15 strikeouts. There were 13 balls in play on Wednesday night, and most of them were of the oopsie-doodle variety, the kind of contact that should be rewarded with a coupon for a free frozen yogurt because, hey, nice contact. This was the perfect amalgamation of pitcher and event, talent and celebration. Clayton Kershaw couldn't have pitched any better, which means no one could have pitched any better.
The outcome made sense, then. Because the outcome that happens every other time -- jerks making contact against this guy and actually getting on base -- doesn't make sense. How does that happen? This should be the result every time.
Clayton Kershaw threw a no-hitter. He was always a threat to, always going to. Here it is. It wasn't a 160-pitch struggle. It wasn't an umpire-aided gift. It was the best pitcher in baseball throwing better than the other pitchers in baseball. It wasn't inevitable, but it wasn't avoidable, either.
And, dang, what a game. What a pitcher. What a game for that pitcher.