The Closer: Magnificent Seven


It was a star-studded evening on the mound Friday.

Seven of the night's starting pitchers had no-hitters and/or perfect games under their belts (Roy Halladay, Dallas Braden, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez, A.J. Burnett, Carlos Zambrano). The septet combined to go 3-3 with a no-decision.

Here's a look at how a few of them - and some others - won:

Why Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright beat the Brewers:
- As usual, his curveball. The Brew Crew was only 1-13 (.077) against the pitch Friday - that lowers the opposition's average to .138 (15/109) vs Wainwright's deuce this season.
- Put hitters away. Wainwright got two strikes on 15 hitters - he retired all 15 (100 pct; MLB average: 72 pct).
- Attacked. Of the 30 batters he faced, Wainwright went to 3-ball counts on only two hitters (7 pct; MLB average: 19 pct).

Why Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz beat the Orioles:
- Hitters were 0-5 with a strikeout against Buchholz's slider. The right hander only threw 13 sliders, but recorded 11 strikes and 3 fly outs.
- The Orioles swung on the first pitch nine times, putting six in play for outs. Buchholz has not allowed a hit on the first pitch in his last three starts (0-10) and is holding opponents to a .062 batting average in the last five starts.
- Did not allow a hit with runners in scoring position for the second straight start and opponents are now hitting .209 in that situation
- The 3.26 pitches per plate appearance was the lowest in Buchholz's 11 starts, allowing him to get his first complete game shutout since his no-hitter on September 1, 2007 against the Orioles.

Why Astros starter Felipe Paulino beat the Cubs:
(He's not exactly used to the winner's circle. It's his first win this season and he had only won 1 of his previous 14 decisions, dating back to June 27, 2009)
- He battled. In 2-0, 2-1 and 3-ball counts, he retired 67 percent of hitters (MLB average: 54 pct). Heading into the game, he allowed a .327 average on "non-2-strike counts." Friday, hitters were 2-11 (.182) in such spots.
- He was efficient. Of his 8 innings, 4 were of the 1-2-3 variety (50 pct; MLB average: 31 pct).
- Effective with fastball. Heading into game, hitters were .306 against Paulino's fastball. Friday, the Cubs were 2-13 (.154).

Why Phillies starter Roy Halladay beat the Padres:
- Got ahead of hitters, throwing a first pitch strike to 78 percent of batters faced (25 of 32, which is a season high. "Doc" also threw a strike on the one of the first two pitches to 94 percent (30 of 32).
- Had good command of his fastball, throwing a strike on 74 percent of pitches with the heater. Halladay also showed good command with his slider and curve, registering a strike on 74 percent of those pitches as well.
- Although it's his most infrequently used pitch, Halladay threw more sliders today (11) than in any start this year, recording 2 strikeouts to give him 10 with the pitch this season.
- Threw 50 pitches in the lower region of the zone, recording 30 strikes and 6 strikeouts. Of Halladay's 18 K's in his last two starts, 12 have been in the lower third of the zone.
- As he did in his perfect game, six of Halladay strikeouts were on pitches out of the zone.

Why Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil beat the Yankees:
- Continued dominance with off-speed stuff. Friday, Cecil held Yankees hitters to a 1-14 (.071) mark against non-fastballs. For the season, Cecil has limited hitters to a .118 average (12-102) against non-fastballs.
- They couldn't lay off it, either. His chase pct on non-fastballs was 52 (MLB avg. - 31 pct).
- Lots of air. Of his 70 strikes, 18 were swings and misses (26 pct). The MLB average is only 14 percent.
- Over his last 4 starts, Cecil is 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA. He has 19 strikeouts and only 4 walks over that stretch.