Cutting into the action
PHILADELPHIA -- Anibal Sanchez was the latest pitcher to flirt with a no-hitter, in a year in which a lot of pitchers have been dominant, taking his attempt into the seventh inning Sunday. The Nationals got a hit, but Sanchez and the Marlins' bullpen finished off a shutout. Johnny Cueto and the Reds held the Cubs scoreless, and Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants did the same to the Rockies.
The Braves held the Phillies to five runs in three days. On April 30, the 15 games resulted in the third-fewest runs for any 15-game schedule since 1992.
There is a usual-suspect list of possible reasons. Offensive numbers have declined since Major League Baseball put some teeth into its drug program in 2006 and since testing started for amphetamines. The weather in April this year seemed miserable all over the place, the kind of conditions that typically depress statistics. And managers and coaches and players believe that we've never seen the high volume of hard throwers that we are seeing right now.
But on Sunday afternoon, Chipper Jones mentioned another possible reason for the decline in numbers, as he sat at a table in the Braves clubhouse: the skyrocketing use of the cut fastball.
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