It’s safe to say I have a bit of a unique perspective on Joe Musgrove’s historic no-hitter, or rather, the man who teamed up with him to make Padres history in Victor Caratini.
As a lifelong Cubs fan and someone who’s covered the Chicago-based ball club for a full decade now, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen 100+ loss seasons, a lengthy rebuild and a World Series title some waited their entire lives without witnessing. I’ve covered three no-hitters – two by Jake Arrieta and one by Alec Mills.
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The man behind the dish last summer for Mills’ historic performance? None other than Caratini, who became the first catcher in MLB history to catch back-to-back no-hitters with different teams.
I can tell you that Cubs fans were absolutely livid over the Yu Darvish trade that sent the 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up and his personal catcher, Caratini, to San Diego last winter. Losing Darvish was bad enough, but a lot of folks loved Caratini – and what he brings to a team.
Roadblocked behind All-Star Willson Contreras in Chicago, Caratini’s inclusion in the deal makes some degree of sense. But, as we all saw on Friday, he’s clearly got what it takes to call big pitches in high-stakes moments.
Musgrove gave Caratini a ton of credit after the game, praising his game-calling and in-game adjustments that allowed the right-hander to do something no other Padres pitcher had ever done: finish off a no-hitter.
"“He was calculating how many guys until we get to the top of the order, so that by the sixth, seventh inning, it would be 6-7-8, 9-1-2,” Musgrove told MLB.com. “Just doing all the math and figuring out which guys we need to be more aggressive with fastballs and sinkers and cutters to get one-pitch outs and try to save a few pitches here and there.”"
Padres: Victor Caratini is so much more than a backup catcher
It’s abundantly clear now that Caratini’s role on this Padres team stretches far beyond just serving as a familiar face behind the dish for Darvish. The 27-year-old backstop has stepped into a valuable spot with Austin Nola still sidelined and rookie Luis Campusano struggling in his first extended taste of big league action.
He’s stepped into the starter’s role – and it’s hard to envision him doing anything less than splitting time behind the dish when Nola returns. He’s quickly earning the right to, at the very least, share the starting catcher’s role this year.
It’s safe to say very few people cared or even noticed Caratini when poring over the countless big-time moves the Padres made this offseason. But now, we’ll all remember his pivotal role on a historic Friday night in the Lone Star state – one we’ll never forget.