This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Hideo Nomo’s greatest successes came with the Los Angeles Dodgers, two stints of three plus seasons that have a few subpar seasons with other teams sprinkled in. By the time he made it to Boston, Nomo was still a decent option. Though best years ended up being with the LA Dodgers, he held a serviceable spot in the rotation for the 2001 Red Sox. His brightest moment came in his debut, when he threw a no hitter versus the Baltimore Orioles. In late May, he would again display his dominance when he threw a 14 strikeout 1 hitter versus the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox 2001 season fell apart towards the end when Joe Kerrigan replaced Jimy Williams as manager. Nomo’s 2-8 record during August and September also helped solidify the collapse. Though his season was good enough to warrant a second season, Nomo elected to return to L.A., where his career had begun.
After three seasons, Nomo returned to the American League with the Tampa Bay Rays. To say his Rays tenure was less than desirable is an understatement. In 100 innings, Nomo game up 81 earned runs, including 16 home runs. He gave up 5 or more runs in 10 of his 19 starts before shutting it down in July of that year. Like his Boston debut, his early appearances seemed to bring him the most attention. Unfortunately, his 2nd start of that season came against the Red Sox and was memorable for a different reason. He was pounded for 8 runs in 2 innings, including a grand slam by Big Papi.
By July of that year, Nomo found himself without a job, and bounced around to the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox before landing in the major leagues again with the Kansas City Royals. Like his previous April experience versus the Red Sox, Nomo failed to recapture his early dominance. In just four and a third innings, Nomo gave up 9 runs!
In 2005, it came natural to turn on a Red Sox game to see them destroy the Rays with ease. Whether they play today or tomorrow, hopefully the Ghost of Nomo’s Devil Rays Past will drift to the mound when the Sox hitters are up against Big Game James and the rest of the Tampa Bay Rays.