In the modern era of baseball -- an era that spans 111 full seasons -- only two different pitchers have finished a season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and enough dominance to post a rate of at least 11 strikeouts per nine innings and a rate of fewer than six hits per nine innings. Pedro Martinez did this twice: in 1997, when he won his first Cy Young Award with the Expos, and in 2000, when he assembled one of the truly extraordinary pitching seasons the game has ever witnessed. But before Pedro, there was Hideo Nomo.
In his rookie season in 1995, with voluminous attention coming from two countries, Nomo -- sometimes stoically, sometimes gleefully, always explosively -- toyed with batters in ways that had literally never been seen before in the Majors. In 191 1/3 innings that season, Nomo struck out 236 batters and allowed 124 hits. He transformed himself from litmus test into All-Star starter and National League Rookie of the Year, and began a new era in the game.
In his Major League debut on Monday, the Rangers' Yu Darvish surrendered five runs in 5 2/3 innings -- with four runs coming in the first -- but earned the win.
Notable debuts by Japanese born pitchers
Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-5 in the Mariners' loss to the Rangers, giving the Seattle outfielder 223 career games with three-or-more hits. Ichiro's total of 223 has come in 1,754 games. For players whose careers began after 1920, those 223 through 1,754 games are the sixth most. Al Simmons had 261 for the most, and he is followed by Lloyd Waner (234), Paul Waner (232), Heinie Manush (229), and Stan Musial (228).
The Giants' Barry Zito threw a four-hit shutout as San Francisco defeated the Rockies, 7-0, on Monday. The win was the first of the season for the Giants, who are 1-3.
Zito's four-hitter is the first shutout in the Majors this season. Last season, there were 75 -- the most in any year since 2002, when there were 87.
Zito's shutout is his first since April 18, 2003, when he beat the Rangers on six hits. Zito's shutout is the first by a Giants left-hander since Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter on July 10, 2009.
The last time a Giants pitcher threw a shutout during the team's first four games was in 1978, when Jim Barr threw a seven hitter in San Francisco's second game of the season.
In their home opener, the Twins lost to the Angels, 5-1, and dropped to 0-4 for the season. The last time Minnesota began the year 0-4 was in 1981. The Braves also dropped to 0-4 on Monday -- the first time since 1988 they've lost their first four games.
Derek Jeter went 4-for-4 in the Yankees' 6-2 win against the Orioles on Monday, giving him 41 career games with at least four hits. Since 1918, those 41 tie Jeter with Billy Herman, Nellie Fox, Maury Wills, Lou Brock, Dante Bichette and Alex Rodriguez for the 34th most. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Jeter has six games with four-plus hits, second to Albert Pujols' seven.
Ivan Nova allowed two runs on 10 hits in seven innings and picked up the win for New York on Monday. Dating back to last season, Nova has won 13 straight decisions. That winning streak ties him with Eddie Lopat (1952-53), Jim Coates (1959-60) and Ron Guidry (1978) for the fourth longest for any Yankees pitcher in the live-ball era.
White Sox/Red Sox
With a single and a double on Monday, Paul Konerko tied Luke Appling for second all-time in White Sox history with 3,528 total bases. Frank Thomas is the all-time leader, with 3,949. On the all-time total bases leader board, Konerko -- who had 73 total bases before coming to the White Sox -- is 139th, with 3,601.
The Red Sox scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning and rallied to beat the Blue Jays, 4-2, on Monday. Through their first four games of the season, Boston has scored a total of 10 runs in innings one through eight, and a total of six runs in the ninth inning. They've also scored two runs in extra innings.
The Cardinals hit three home runs in the first inning -- including back-to-back shots from David Freese and Yadier Molina -- and beat the Reds, 7-1, on Monday. St. Louis, which leads the Majors with nine homers, last had three in the first inning on July 24, 2005, when Abraham Nunez, Jim Edmonds and John Mabry went deep against Cubs pitcher Mark Prior.
Starters getting it done
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook allowed one unearned run on three hits in seven innings for the win, the Angels' C.J. Wilson allowed one run on three hits in seven innings to pick up his first win of the year and the Athletics' Tom Milone allowed three hits and no runs in eight innings while recording the win on Monday. Through the first 60 games this season, there have been a total of 18 starts which has seen the pitcher go at least seven and finish with no more than three hits allowed. Last year, there were a total of eight such starts through the first 66 games of the season.
The Mets defeated the Nationals, 4-3, on Daniel Murphy's walk-off single on Monday, and improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2007. The Mets also began the year with four straight wins in '85 and '73. In '85, they started 5-0.
Washington's Adam LaRoche drove in a pair of runs on a pair of singles, giving him at least two RBIs in three of the first four Nationals games. LaRoche, a notoriously slow starter, is only the second Expos/Nationals player -- after Vladimir Guerrero in 2002 -- to have a trio of two-RBI games through the club's first four contests. Entering this season, LaRoche owned a career .207/.302/.385 slash line in April games, and averaged 0.51 RBIs per game for his career in April.
Making his sixth career start, Oakland's Milone picked up his second career victory with eight scoreless innings. Milone also didn't record a single strikeout, making him the first pitcher since Justin Verlander on May 17, 2006 to finish a start with at least eight scoreless innings and no strikeouts. The last time an Athletics pitcher owned such a line was on July 27, 1980, when Matt Keough went 8 2/3 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.