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From Mickey Welch to Ricky Nolasco, with Jiminy Cricket in between

   Tom Seaver I know about. Jake Peavy I know about. Ricky Nolasco I certainly know about, having watched him pitch the past four seasons.

   But Mickey Welch? Now there's a name I wasn't familiar with when it popped up earlier tonight as Nolasco was playing ninepins with the Atlanta Braves.

   Nolasco became the fourth pitcher in major league history to strike out at least nine straight batters, joining Seaver, Peavy and Welch. Seaver holds the record, striking out 10 straight Padres in a 1970 game.

   Peavy whiffed nine in a row in a 2007 game. Welch did his "9" thing in 1884.


    So who's this Welch guy? Well, he was a pretty good pitcher before the turn of the century -- the first baseball century turn -- and was the third hurler to notch 300 wins. He was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

   Another interesting fact about Welch: known as "Smiling Mickey": he is credited as being the first player ever used as a pinch-hitter, serving in that role in a 1889 game. He also pitched in the first game ever played at the Polo Grounds in 1883. He went the full nine innings in his first 105 major league starts, was one of the first pithers to throw a screwball, and served as a ticket taker at the Polo Grounds after his playing days were over.

   In a 1884 game, he struck out the first nine Cleveland Blues batters. The consecutive-whiff streak held until Seaver came along.

   That's him to the left. Kind of an odd pose, as if he has about to toss the baseball like a hand grenade.

   One more thing on Nolasco's performance. It should be noted that he set the Marlins franchise record, of course, for rconsecutive strikeouts. The old mark of seven in a row had been held by Jesus Sanchez. The reason I mention this is that Sanchez's name managed to come up twice this week.

  Remember on Monday when Anibal Sanchez walked eight? Well, that was the most walks issued by a Marlins pitcher ine one game since -- you guessed it -- Jesus Sanchez walked eight. I don't know which Marlin it was, but one of his teammates nicknamed Sanchez "Jiminiy Cricket" because of the spiffy outfit and bowler cap he always wore on road trips.


So here's to Ricky Nolasco. And to Mickey Welch and Jesus Sanchez, as well.