PHILADELPHIA — The black bat never left Chase Utley’s shoulder, not when Josh Beckett fired a 94 mph fastball past him, and not when he retreated to the Philadelphia dugout. Beckett, the 34-year-old Texan, opened his arms Sunday for a hug. He became the first pitcher in 36 years to throw a no-hitter against the Phillies.
The Los Angeles Dodgers danced on the grass at Citizens Bank Park to celebrate a 6-0 win. Outfielder Scott Van Slyke yanked Beckett’s blue cap from his head so teammates could tousle the pitcher’s jet black hair. His transformation from a hard-throwing former top pick to a shrewd veteran pitcher crystallized in 2 hours, 37 minutes at the mercy of the Phillies.
“I knew the whole time,” Beckett said. “I was actually joking about it in the fourth inning. I said I was waiting for them to get a hit. You don’t think at this point of your career that you are going to do that.”
“He was good,” Jimmy Rollins said. “There’s no more to be said.”
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“I just thought he had real good stuff down to the last hitter,” Sandberg said.
That last hitter was Utley, who worked a 3-1 count. He took Beckett’s 127th pitch, an outside curveball, and dashed for first. But home-plate umpire Brian Knight called a strike, and the battle continued. Beckett contemplated his strategy. He opted for a fastball.
“I was trying to think along with him,” Beckett said. “I don’t think he was looking for a fastball down the middle, especially when a guy has a no-hitter.”