Last Friday, Seattle pitcher Brian Holman was within one out of a perfect game when he faced Athletics pinch-hitter Ken Phelps, who last year led the league with three pinch-hit homers. Holman recalled that the Mariners' scouting report on Phelps said that "he was a low fastball hitter and never swung at the first pitch." So Holman led off with a high fastball, and Phelps clubbed it over the rightfield wall. Despite the stunning loss of his perfecto, no-hitter and shutout all in one blow, Holman got the next batter, to finish off a 6-1 victory. And afterward he was philosophical about the turn of events. "I'm glad it ended the way it did," he said, "and not on a bloop single."
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
The day before, the Expos' Dennis Martinez had a no-hitter for 7? innings, until the Phillies' Darren Daulton broke it up with a double. Martinez credited his performance to his having had "a spiritual awakening" in church that day. But the Phillies had a more down-to-earth explanation. They claimed he was loading up the ball with tobacco juice. Said Philly outfielder Von Hayes, "You could practically see the tobacco leaves hanging off the ball."
COMEBACK OF THE CENTURY
On April 17, Oakland pitcher Mike Norris beat the Angels 7-5 to pick up his first major league victory in six years and 11 months. It was an impressive feat, but it's not even close to the record for years between big league wins. That honor belongs to Fred (Cactus) Johnson, a career 5-10 pitcher, who, after having won two games for the New York Giants in 1923, returned 15 years later, at age 41, to win three for the St. Louis Browns.
BY THE NUMBERS
?Phillie catcher Steve Lake threw out four Expos who were trying to steal on April 17. Before that game, catchers were 1 for 18 against Montreal base stealers.
?The same day, Rickey Henderson of the A's drew his 1,000th career walk in his 1,479th game. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the Royals' Willie Wilson—perhaps the second-best leadoff man in the American League during the 1980s—played in his 1,677th game and failed to add to his career total of only 330 base on balls.
?Also on April 17, Texas Rangers outfielder Ruben Sierra, 24, hit his 100th career homer. Not bad considering that of all the other major leaguers born in 1965, the one with the next-most homers is the Padres' Benito Santiago, with 50.
? Montreal pitcher Kevin Gross walked eight batters in five innings on April 18. Last year three Expos starting pitchers—Pascual Perez, Dennis Martinez and Bryn Smith—each went a month without giving up that many walks.
?The Mets' Tim Teufel went 0 for 3 last Friday night against the Expos' Zane Smith. Teufel is 5 for 47 (.106) lifetime against pitchers named Smith.