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2012: The year of the no-hitter?

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San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain (AP Photo) San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain (AP Photo)

One of the great things about great sports moments is that you never know when you're going to get one. Or more than one.

In 1990 and 1991, major league baseball saw an unprecedented number of no-hitters. Each season saw seven; a number unmatched in the entirety of the game's modern era and surpassed only once in baseball's entire history (In 1884, the age of spitballs and a mound just 50 feet away, there were eight). That two-year period represented a spike of pitching dominance that was unlike anything baseball had ever seen.

2012 has a chance to be another one of those spikes. Maybe the biggest ever. So far this season (and bear in mind there are still roughly 100 games to go), there have been five no-hitters two of them perfect games.

On April 21, Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber threw the first of 2012's no-hitters, a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners. Just a couple of weeks later, on May 2, Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels no-hit the Minnesota Twins. A month later on June 1, Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in the history of the New York Mets franchise against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Santana's no-no kicked off a crazy June stretch. One week after Santana, the Seattle Mariners got in on the other side of the no-hit game, with six pitchers combining to shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers. Less than a week after that, Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants pitched one of the most dominant games in history, throwing a perfect game against the Houston Astros.

This doesn't even take into account the game thrown on the same night as Cain, believe it or not - by Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey against the Tampa Bay Rays. In the first inning, a grounder was bobbled by the third baseman and ruled a hit. It was the only one the Rays would muster. The team actually lodged an appeal to change the scoring and give Dickey the no-hitter, but the appeal was denied.

This is the first season in history to feature five no-hitters before the All-Star break. With well over half the season left, 2012 has a chance to be a historic one. Of course, three no-hitters in two weeks is the sort of fluke that you won't see again. Considering the rate of return thus far, it seems reasonable to think that we'll see two more or three or four more. The sky's the limit, really; there are so many electric young pitchers out there that someone is bound to catch lightning in a bottle from time to time. Those times are just a bit more abundant these days.

The flashes of pitching dominance keep coming. The free-swinging mentality of today's game is probably a contributor. Ditto the drop in offense in general following the implementation of drug testing. Whatever it is, we should just sit back and enjoy the ride. It's not easy to find those moments of individual dominance in such a quintessentially team-oriented game. But when we do, they truly are something special to see.

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