The perks of throwing a no-hitter in a major league game include a round of batting practice.
Detroit Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull said manager A.J. Hinch promised him a chance to take batting practice if he ever threw a complete-game shutout. Turnbull, who never before went past seven innings in 49 career major league starts, blew way past Hinch’s proposed milestone against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
Turnbull threw the fifth no-hitter of 2021 in a 5-0 victory at T-Mobile Park, joining Joe Musgrove of the Padres, Carlos Rodón of the White Sox, John Means of the Orioles and Wade Miley of the Reds in the exponentially expanding no-no club.
Turnbull’s effort brought MLB a step closer to surpassing its modern record of seven no-hitters in a season. In all of 2017, 2018 and 2019, pitchers threw six no-hitters combined. All time, 310 no-hitters have been thrown in MLB history, but given the approach of so many hitters today and the speed brought by so many pitchers, it tracks that 2021 could be the Year of the No-No.
Turnbull, who came in with a 4.49 career ERA and 3.91 ERA for this season, is probably the least likely of the current group to throw one. Two years ago, the Tigers went 7-23 in his starts. No matter, as a Tigers second-round pick in 2014, he showed a lot of improvement before joining the immortals at age 28. Turnbull’s ERA now is 2.88, which puts him in the league’s top 25. No-hitters have a way of changing impressions as well as facts.
Turnbull struck out nine and walked two, needing 117 pitches to put away the M’s, who were no-hit for the second time in 13 days, with Means getting them also at T-Mobile. Turnbull’s last pitch was a foul-tip, swinging strike to Mitch Haniger, who also had the hardest-hit ball of the game in an earlier at-bat. Turnbull had 19 swinging strikes in all, using mostly a 93.4 mph four-seam fastball and an 84.4 mph slider.
After the last out, Turnbull turned away from the plate and gave out two primal screams on the mound, and Tigers teammates rushed from the dugout to surround him and celebrate.
In his postgame interview, Turnbull continued to be showered with attention (and shaving cream) by teammates.
“I mean it’s just surreal; I don’t really have words right now,” he said. “It’s probably the best day, best night of my life to be honest with you. It’s pretty freaking cool. I don’t know what to say. It’s absolutely surreal, just trying to soak it in.
“These guys behind me, they freaking said it in the first inning. They said: ‘You’re gonna throw a no-hitter tonight.’ I was, like, ‘All right.’”
That’s when the shaving cream came.
“I love every second of this. I will say that shaving cream doesn’t taste the best,” Turnbull said before completing the final five minutes of the interview with his head still covered.