Giants pitcher Chris Heston pitched the first no hitter of 2015 last night. He struck out the last batter looking with an absolute cockshot on the outside corner (and no that word has nothing to do with what you think it might).
Whenever there is a no hitter, the performance of the umpire is examined. Thanks to tools like pitch f/x and websites like Brooks Baseball this is much easier today.
They plot the zone using a series of colored shapes. Each shape represents a team (the one who threw the pitch) and each color represents whether the umpire called a strike (red) or ball (green). The graphs are from the point of view of the umpire.
Here is the strike zone map for Heston against lefties (so the left hand side is the outside corner):
It looks like Heston got a little bit of help on three or four pitches. They are the red triangles that are outside the zone. Even though they are outside the rule book zone (the dark line), they are very close to what is generally called by umpires (the dashed line). The umpire did grab one high strike in the game.
Here is the chart for right handed hitters (outside corner on the right side):
There is one pitch that is outside the dotted line that was called a strike. Otherwise everything looks pretty good.
Bottom line, the umpire was pretty good last evening. He gave no advantage to the pitcher. In the end it was just a dominating performance. Congratulations to the pitcher (and the umpire). I have never umpired a no hitter – it would certainly be a cool thing to do.