Four hurlers vie for June's top effort
Dickey, Griffin, Harang, Holland each tossed two-hitters during month
R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays, A.J. Griffin of the Athletics, Aaron Harang of the Mariners and Derek Holland of the Rangers await your support, as voting is under way to select June's Pitching Performance of the Month presented by Head & Shoulders.
There has yet to be a no-hitter thrown in 2013, but these four pitchers had no-no stuff, nonetheless, each holding his opponent to just two hits over nine dominant innings.
Here is a closer look at your candidates for June:
Dickey: June 26 @ TB
Stat line: W, SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 6 Ks, 1 BB
The defending Breakout Pitcher of the Year GIBBY Award winner had his best start of the season, throwing his first complete game -- and shutout -- with the Blue Jays. Dickey retired the first 13 batters he faced, before allowing a one-out single to James Loney in the bottom of the fifth. The shutout was the sixth of Dickey's career.
The 38-year-old knuckleballer's start was reminiscent of his dominance in June 2012, when he threw back-to-back one-hitters on June 13 vs. the Rays and June 18 vs. the Orioles.
Those performances were part of a six-game winning streak in his National League Cy Young Award-winning campaign, and Dickey hopes his mastery of the Rays is a similar harbinger of things to come.
"I told you it would take some time to unlearn some bad habits that I had picked up trying to compensate for some earlier maladies," said Dickey, after a game in which he threw 68 of his 93 pitches for strikes. "It's starting to take shape a little bit. Hopefully, this will be a springboard for the next hundred innings."
Griffin: June 26 vs. CIN
Stat line: W, SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 7 Ks, 2 BB
After a 22-pitch first inning -- which included his only two walks of the day -- the righty with hair from his head down to his shoulders settled in to allow just three more baserunners over his nine strong frames to register his first career shutout.
"I'm sure you guys weren't thinking after the first inning that it was [going to be] a complete game," Griffin said. "Neither was I. But I just went out there and tried to execute pitches, and it worked out."
Griffin ended the game by striking out Jay Bruce for the fourth time.
It was Griffin's first win in June, as he improved to 6-6 overall in 2013.
Harang: June 11 vs. HOU
Stat line: W, SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 10 Ks, 0 BB
At 35 years and 33 days old, Harang became the fifth-oldest pitcher since 1916 to record a shutout with no more than two hits allowed, at least 10 whiffs and no walks. In his previous start, the 6-foot-7 righty lasted just 2 1/3 innings, but bounced back to throw his second shutout of the season and the eighth of his career.
"Some days, you go out there and feel great and can throw any pitch whenever you want in a count -- and other days, you just pray you can throw one pitch for a strike," Harang said. "When you can throw any pitch for strikes and get ahead early, it makes all the difference in the world."
This marks the first year in which Harang has notched multiple shutouts since his 2006 breakout season.
Holland: June 27 @ NYY
Stat line: W, SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 7 Ks, 2 BB
Just three days after getting kicked out of a Counting Crows concert for standing up and taking pictures, Holland sat 27 Yankees down.
Holland was 0-5 with an 8.85 ERA in eight career regular-season appearances against New York before his two-hit shutout. The effort made him the 13th visiting southpaw since 1916 to hold the Bronx Bombers to two hits or fewer in a nine-inning shutout, and the first to pull it off it since the Mariners' Matt Young on June 3, 1983. Holland is the first lefty to hurl a nine-inning shutout with no extra-base hits allowed vs. the Yankees since the Indians' Billy Traber on July 8, 2003.
The shutout was the sixth of Holland's young career. He allowed just two singles, one to Ichiro Suzuki and another Austin Romine.
In addition to voting for the monthly award, you can be part of the Season of the #Whiff campaign around the clock. See a whiff, tweet a #Whiff to @HSforMen, and you will have a chance to win cool prizes from your favorite team.
Pete Barrett is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.