Cameron Maybin got a leadoff single off Harang, but the big right-hander responded by striking out Will Venable. Then Chase Headley. Then Yonder Alonso. This went on until Harang had struck out his way around the entire San Diego batting order.
I’ve seen no hitters, I’ve seen perfect games and I’ve even seen 20-strikeout performances. I’ve never seen anything like this. The nine-consecutive Ks fell just one short of the Major League record, which was set by Tom Seaver in 1970.
The difficult thing to figure after watching the feat was what the heck exactly does this mean? Aaron Harang has been around awhile. We know what he is. He’s a good, not great by any means, starting pitcher. Also, the Padres are not exactly a great hitting team. This accomplishment isn’t going to go down in the history books, other than Harang setting the Dodgers’ team record for consecutive strikeouts, but it‘s something I won‘t forget any time soon.
I think the thing to take away from this performance as a fan is to realize how great the talent is in Major League Baseball. Harang isn’t exactly on the short list of Cy Young candidates, but for three innings he looked like a Hall of Famer.
Then, as if the Baseball God’s intervened to correct Harang’s incredible performance, he gave up a solo home run to Will Venable and allowed two more runs in the fourth inning. I guess greatness is fleeting.
I’ve long believed the talent difference between a team that wins 100 games and one that loses 100 is actually minuscule. You have to be a pretty amazing baseball player to ever even make it to the major leagues, let alone have an 11-year career like Harang has.
If you can take anything away from this incredible, albeit brief, stint of dominance it’s that even an average major leaguer is capable of accomplishing extraordinary feats. That is one of about a million reasons why the game is fun to follow over a 162-game season.
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