In 1976, Nolan Ryan's streak of seasons with at least one no-hitter ended at three, but the Hall of Famer still maintained a notable predilection for preventing base hits.
That season, Ryan twirled seven shutouts, with six of them featuring no more than three hits allowed. The six were made up of three two-hitters and a trio of three-hitters, making Ryan the only American League pitcher in the designated hitter era to have a season in which he had at least six shutouts on three or fewer hits.
Twelve starts into his 2012 season, Brandon Morrow is halfway to matching Ryan.
Morrow threw a two-hit shutout, fanned five, walked two and picked up his seventh victory of the year in the Blue Jays' 4-0 win over the White Sox on Wednesday.
This season, Morrow leads the Majors with three shutouts. In his three, he has twice allowed just three hits, and now owns a two-hitter as well. Before Morrow, the most recent AL pitcher to have a trio of shutouts on three or fewer hits in an entire season was Mike Mussina, in 2001. The most recent AL pitcher to have three this early into a season (56 team games) was Roger Clemens, in 1988.
Across both leagues, Morrow and Clemens are two of 13 pitchers in the expansion era (since 1961) to have three of these performances through their team's first 56 games (no one has more than three). By decade:
1960s: Ernie Broglio (1963), Ray Culp ('63), Ray Herbert ('63), Sandy Koufax ('63), Sonny Siebert ('68) and Sam McDowell ('69)
1970s: Vida Blue (1971), Ryan ('75), Andy Messersmith ('76) and Jim Palmer ('78)
1980s: J.R. Richard (1980) and Clemens ('88)
2010s: Morrow (2012)
Morrow's line produced a game score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance) of 86. In his other two shutouts, he posted scores of 89 and 88, respectively. He is the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez, in 2000, to have at least three scores of at least 85 through his team's first 56 games. Martinez had four.
No other pitcher in Blue Jays history had as many as three games with scores as high as 85 through 56 team contests. Pat Hentgen had two in 1994, and Roy Halladay had a pair in 2005.
In the Pirates' 55th game of the season, Andrew McCutchen hit his 10th home run to join the Brewers' Ryan Braun and the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez as the only players with 10 homers and 10 stolen bases this season.
McCutchen is the first Pirates player since Barry Bonds in 1992 to have at least 10 homers and 10 steals through the team's first 55 games. At that point in '92, Bonds had 14 home runs and 17 stolen bases.
Chris Capuano (five innings, four runs) picked up his eighth victory Wednesday, as the Dodgers' beat the Phillies, 6-5, and improved to 36-21.
Capuano is the seventh pitcher in the past 30 seasons to have at least eight wins through the Dodgers' first 57 games. Ramon Martinez had 10 victories in 1991 and Kaz Ishii had nine in 2002. The others with eight: Fernando Valenzuela (1986), Bob Welch ('87), Orel Hershiser ('88) and Ishii (2004).
Houston's Bud Norris struck out 12 and issued no walks, but he allowed four runs in a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.
Norris was the first Astros pitcher since Shane Reynolds in 1999 to have a game with that many K's and no walks. On Aug. 15, 1999, Reynolds struck out 14 with no walks, but also took the loss.
Norris joined Reynolds (in a different game in 1996) as one of 15 pitchers in the live-ball era to have at least 12 strikeouts, no walks and at least four runs allowed in a game. The first to do it was the St. Louis Browns' Urban Shocker, in '20. It didn't happen again until '67.
Zack Greinke struck out 12 in seven innings of two-hit, no-run ball, and the Brewers blanked the Cubs, 8-0.
Greinke has a pair of games this season in which he has reached double-digits in K's and allowed no runs and no more than two hits. He is the first Brewers pitcher to have two of these games in a career, let alone a single season.
Greinke is the first pitcher since Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2004 to have two games with these baselines through his team's first 56 games.
Here and there
Toronto's Jose Bautista hit his 15th home run of the year, giving him 112 since the start of the 2010 season. In franchise history, Carlos Delgado owns the highest three-season total of home runs, hitting 124 from 1999-2001.
Edwin Jackson and two Nationals relievers combined to allow just three hits in Washington's 5-3 victory over the Mets. It was the sixth time this season the Nationals had limited the opposition to three hits or fewer. The Angels have the most such games in the Majors, with seven.
Craig Kimbrel vs. Aroldis Chapman, 2010-12
The Braves' Craig Kimbrel fanned one in a perfect ninth inning and recorded his 17th save of the year. The Reds' Aroldis Chapman had a pair of punchouts in a 1-2-3 ninth and picked up his sixth save. Kimbrel and Chapman made their debuts in 2010.
Bartolo Colon (eight innings, five hits) and Brian Fuentes combined on a five-hitter as the Athletics defeated the Rangers, 2-0. Oakland has six team shutouts on the season, tying them with the Royals and Mets for the second most in the Majors. The Angels have seven. Oakland has also been the victim of 11 team shutouts -- the most in the big leagues.
Shin-Soo Choo went 3-for-5 and scored three runs, helping the Indians to a 9-6 victory over the Tigers. Choo has batted in the leadoff spot for Cleveland for the past 21 games. In those affairs he compiled a .329/.412/.494 slash line. Prior to the switch, Choo had assembled -- while batting third and sixth -- a line of .235/.361/.333 in 28 games.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.