Quick: What’s the best pitching performance in Boston Red Sox history?
Maybe you thought of Pedro Martinez’s 17-strikeout game at Yankee Stadium in 1999. Or maybe you recalled one of Roger Clemens’ two 20-strikeout performances, in 1986 or 1996. There also have been 18 no-hitters you could pick from.
But one Red Sox effort stands above the rest, according to ESPN’s David Schoenfield, who identified the greatest pitching performances ever for each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in an article published Wednesday: Hideo Nomo’s gem against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 25, 2001.
Nope, that wasn’t Nomo’s no-no, which came against the Baltimore Orioles on April 4, 2001. It was a different start in which the Japanese hurler allowed only one hit in a complete-game shutout. He struck out 14, didn’t walk anyone and registered a Game Score of 99.
Here’s what Schoenfield wrote of Nomo’s performance:
This is one of the biggest surprises on the list, in part because it’s not even Nomo’s no-hitter from 2001 (which scored a 95). This game came at Fenway in the heart of the steroids era and Nomo induced 26 swing-and-misses while allowing only a leadoff double in the fourth inning.
Schoenfield did acknowledge Martinez’s dazzling performance in the Bronx, which many Red Sox fans point to as the best of the best. There’s a reason he gave Nomo’s start a slight edge, though:
There are some who say that Pedro Martinez’s one-hitter with 17 strikeouts against the Yankees in September 1999 was one of the greatest games ever pitched. Indeed, it was 120 pitches of Pedro genius against the hated Yankees, during one of the best seasons a pitcher ever had — 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 strikeouts in 213 1/3 innings. Alas, the one hit he allowed was a home run to Chili Davis. As unhittable as Martinez was that night, he did give up a home run. Still, Pedro deserves video honors.
Will anyone top either of those performances in the near future? Perhaps not, seeing as each was absolutely incredible. But current Red Sox ace Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Maybe someday he’ll give Nomo’s gem a run for its money.
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