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A retroactive diary to Tigers pitcher Jose Alvarez’s near no hitter against the Indians

(USA TODAY)

(USA TODAY)

Sunday, we let Jose Alvarez jump from the nest. He promptly turned into a bald eagle, took down a hawk mid-flight,  and got two females pregnant.

After months of screaming in our own little corner of the internet that Alvarez, our James Mungro Memorial Award sponsored by (sponsor pending) winner, deserved a chance, he got one. Now he’s on Baseball Tonight and Drew Sharp is writing columns about him.

You know the story by now. You know about the seven strikeouts and the 4.2 perfect innings (yes, that’s near no hitter when the JMMA winner does it). You know about the dancing changeup and the darting curveball. You know about him being sent down to Toledo after the game. While we can’t do anything about that last part (other than put him in the triple-A All-Star game, VOTE people), we can relive the day Jose Alvarez became a household name, if only for a couple of hours.

Pregame no hitter confidence level: 25 percent. I predicted on Saturday that Alvarez would throw a no hitter. While I still feel good in that assumption, things like logic (first major league debut, a no hitter being hard to do, etc.) have me significantly discounting Alvarez’s chances.

1st inning

Alvarez comes out with the semi-flat hat bill that’s become all the rage nowadays and a close-cropped haircut.  The difference between the long hair and his current look is negligible, but I do like the weird fade down the back of his neck. It’s a distinguishable trait, and for a guy that looks like the Venezuelan Pillsbury Doughboy, it gives him an ounce of grit.

The eyebrows, man. Those things are their own species. I’m afraid they’ll sneak up to the hat and start eating it from the inside out. They also make Alvarez’s mustache look even wispier than it is.

The ‘stache comes in at a 3-out-of-10 on the dirtyness scale: still passable as stubble — especially with those eyebrows — but stare at it long enough and you’ll see how ugly it is. Bump that to a five and pull the socks high and we have a force in the MLB fashion game.

Oh, hey, it’s time for him to pitch.

Michael Bourn needs four pitches to just look in awe of Alvarez’s ability. On the fifth, he finally swings and grounds out to second. Jason Kipnis, resigned to his fate, decides to swing at the first strike and get it over with.

Nick Swisher takes five straight pitches, working the count to full, before taking the bat off his shoulder. After a couple foul balls, he can’t handle the hook, ending the inning. Alvarez tucks his glove on his hip and struts of the mound, undoubtedly dropping F-bombs his on his walk back to the dugout.

‘I f#$%ing told y’all this was going to be too f#$%ing easy.’ 

15 pitches. Nine strikes. K. No hitter confidence level: 30 percent. He’s capable of it, but the 15 pitches have me concerned that Jim Leyland is going to get scared and pull him early.

2nd inning

Alvarez walks the leadoff hitter, Mark Reynolds. There goes the perfect game.

Upset at his stupidity, Alvarez decides to sacrifice Carlos Santana to Jobu. Two straight breaking balls leave Santana befuddled. Alvarez mixes in a ball for variety, and shows some mercy by letting Santana foul off the next pitch. Then he finishes him.

Alvarez lofts a 90 mph right down the middle. Santana swings through it like a little baby. As soon as he does, Alvarez directs a hard crotch grab his way. Power move. 

Yan Gomes also strikes out. Alvarez gives him in the same crotch grab. This is phenomenal. Alvarez is either the greatest villain/hero in the history of Major League Baseball, has abnormally large testicles, or both.

Apparently Ryan Raburn isn’t worth the time to strikeout, so Alvarez opts to get him to ground into a fielder’s choice on the first pitch.

16 pitches (31 total). 10 strikes. KKK. No hitter confidence level: 65 percent.

3rd inning

Mike Aviles flies out to center.

Drew Stubbs can’t catch up to a high 90 mph fastball. This time, Alvarez neglects to go with the crotch grab and instead turns toward third base. Drew Stubbs was so disgusting that Alvarez couldn;t look at him any longer. Alvarez also wipes his hand.

Damn. He’s throwing pitches so nasty he has to clean his hand off.

Michael Bourn then strikes out on three pitches to end the inning. The last pitch is a raunchy curveball that causes Bourn to  nearly fall over when swinging at it. It prompts Alvarez’s now trademark strut off the mound. ‘Imma just do this by myself.’ 

14 pitches (45 total). 10 strikes. KKKKK. No hitter confidence level: 85 percent. This is happening.

4th inning

Kipnis, still resigned to his fate, doesn’t waste any time. He takes the third pitch he sees and trickles one to the mound.

Swisher also succumbs to Alvarez’s power and gives up, grounding outnto third on the second pitch.

Reynolds still doesn’t get the memo. He thinks just because he walked last time he has some sort of edge. Alvarez reserves a special place in hell for people like you, Mark. On a 2-2 count Alvarez places a fastball on the inside corner, causing Reynolds to do pull the old, ‘All I can do is hop out the way like it was a ball’ move. The ump sees right through that crap and gives him the two-fist punch out.

Get ya strut on Jose. Rod sees ya.

10 pitches (55 total). Six strikes. KKKKKK. No hitter confidence level: 95 percent. This is effing happening.

5th inning 

Santana flies out to center.

Gomes strikes out again, causing Alvarez to do a short strut and then a little lean so he can readjust his giant balls.

Alvarez hangs a changeup, and Raburn hits it over the bullpen. That was a mistake, but, heck, Batman spends 80 percent of his movies making mistakes before saving Gotham City. Alvarez saved his outing one batter later.

After going up 3-0, Mike Aviles hits an embarrassing grounder to Alvarez to end the inning.

14 pitches (69 total). Nine strikes. KKKKKKK. No hitter confidence level: 34 percent. He’ll come back from this. He’ll show you. HE’LL SHOW ALL OF YOU.

6th inning

Drew Stubbs grounds out to third.

Michael Bourn grounds out to second. He should just change his name before he brings any more shame upon on his family.

Alvarez falls behind Kipnis 3-0, then gives up a single. What the hell Kipnis? I thought you were cool.

Swisher follows with a single of his own. I’m beginning to think Alvarez isn’t getting the no hitter tonight.

Up next: Our old friend, Mark ‘Try to pull the jump-out-of-the-way move on a strike’ Reynolds, a.k.a Mark ‘I need a shorter nickname’ Reynolds. He takes two balls before sending a weak grounder to the shortstop, causing the force at second.

Interesting predicament when it comes to a celebration from Alvarez here. You can’t go too over the top, because you’re in a tie game in the sixth inning. You can’t do nothing because this is still a big moment in the game and you’re not boring. Alvarez opts for the double-pumps fist pump, then pounds his glove a couple of times. I personally would have gone for a point-to-the-Cleveland dugout/signature crotch crab combo, but Alvarez’s understated route — while highly unoriginal — worked nicely here.

24 pitches (93 total). 12 strikes. KKKKKKK. No hitter confidence level: 0 percent. The Indians finally broke me.

Alvarez gets the handshake and hug from Leyland. His day is over, as the first page in what will soon be the greatest chapter in MLB history. He’ll remember this day. We’ll all remember this day.

Reaction from press outlets that were three months behind on Jose Alvarez:

MLB.com wrap, with highlights

Bless you Boys with an excellent piece on how Alvarez dominated so thoroughly

Fangraphs reviews Alvarez’s start

Drew Sharp on Alvarez

Freep’s recap 

Detroit News’ recap

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