San Diego's Chris Young flirted with the first no-hitter in club history on Friday night. He was two outs away from no-hitting the Pirates, but yielded a homer to Joe Randa, spoiling the no-no, the shutout and Young's chance for his first career complete game. The 6-10 righty, who went to Princeton, flirted with a no-hitter twice earlier this season. He no-hit Colorado into the eighth inning on May 30, and no-hit Pittsburgh for 5 1/3 innings in his next start.
This has been a crazy week for the Padres. On Monday night, they lost a bizarre game to the Dodgers, not only a bitter rival but also a team with which the Padres are competing for a playoff spot, by allowing five home runs in the final two innings. All week, the spotlight has been on closer Trevor Hoffman, who needs just one more save to tie Lee Smith's career record. Hoffman also has been battling a sore shoulder, an injury of much concern in Padre-land.
And then there is the matter of this crazy playoff race. The Padres led the N.L. West by a half-game over L.A. entering Friday's games, and L.A. led the wild card race over Philadelphia by another half-game. I'm glad the Phils are making this a three team race for two spots, because this wouldn't be as exciting if San Diego and L.A. had the wild card as a sure fall-back if they don't win the division. It's bound to be a frenzied final nine days.
Don't forget, too, that the Padres entered Friday a half-game behind St. Louis for home field in the NLDS. The number of remaining permutations are staggering at the moment, but here's my pick: San Diego, because of their N.L. leading pitching staff, will hang on to win the west. Philly wins the wild card, because the Giants (pretty much out of it) will knock off the hated Dodgers next weekend. L.A. has been too inconsistent this season, and lacks the pitching depth that Philly and San Diego possess. It'll be a great final nine days.