10th anniversary: Houston no-hits the Yankeesby Chris Jaffe
June 11, 2013
Ten years ago today, something happened to the Yankees that hadn’t happened to them in a long, long time. The opposing team no-hit them.
And that wasn’t even the capper. The Yankees were no-hit despite the fact that the opposing starting pitcher had to leave the game after one inning pitched. It was truly a team effort to keep the Yankees hitless, as six pitchers combined for the no-no.
It was June 11, 2003 when the Yankees hosted the visiting Houston Astros for an interleague series. It promised to be a great game. Both teams entered the day in first place in their respective divisions, with Houston tied with the Cubs in the NL Central and the Yankees a half-game ahead of their archrival – the Red Sox.
Houston had one big advantage, though. The Astros had star pitcher Roy Oswalt going for them on the mound. As a rookie in 2001, he led the NL in winning percentage: .824 (14-3). Not bad for a 23-year-old. In his first full season he went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA. Heading into today, Oswalt was only 4-4 on the season, but with a solid 3.10 ERA.
The Yankees had to counter with the frustrating Jeff Weaver on the mound. New York did, however, have a terrific batting order on its side, including stars Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter, Jeremy Giambi Jorge Posada, and Robin Ventura.
Today Oswalt retired the side in order in the first inning, fanning All-Stars Jeter and Giambi, along the way. But as nice as that start was, there would be no more from Oswalt. He pulled his groin and couldn’t go back out.
So the bullpen took over. And boy, did Houston’s bullpen truly take over. The Astros did have a great bullpen. (In fact, manager Jimy Williams always had great bullpens wherever he worked in his dugout days). Houston’s team-wide bullpen ERA would be 3.24, the second best in the 2003 NL. As an added bonus, it was a very well rested bullpen. On June 9, the day before, the team needed just one inning from the bullpen, and two relievers combined for that. June 8 had been a day off. So essentially everyone was available. Upshot: Houston was exceptionally well suited to survive the loss of its ace after one inning, it was them.
First out of the bullpen was Pete Munro. He actually wasn’t a very good reliever. But there’s no sense wasting one of your relief aces with this much game left to go. In 2.2 innings, he walked three batters and hit a fourth. But when the Yankees hit the ball, it went right at Houston fielders.
After Munro threw 57 pitches, Williams put in Kirk Saarloos. Like Munro, Saarloos was also a second-tier pitcher in the bullpen. He had an ERA of 4.93 on the season, but he had to face only four batters in this game, and he retired all them all.
That was five innings down, and the Yankees still needed to get their first hit. And Houston still had its best relievers to go. You had to think that maybe—just maybe—it could happen.
Well, maybe not. After all, this was a great lineup. And the Yankees hadn’t been no-hit since Sept. 20, 1958 when Hoyt Wilhelm did it. That’s the longest stretch a team had gone without being no-hit in baseball history. So the smart money would still be on the Yankees getting a no-hitter at some point.
In the sixth inning, Houston began bringing out the big guns. Brad Lidge, then a middle reliever, came out to face the heart of the Yankees order—Giambi, Posada and Ventura. He retired them in order. And then he put down the bottom of the order 1-2-3 in the seventh, fanning the last two.
Now you had to start wondering. Houston still had some great arms ready to go and New York had only two more innings to get a hit. Yeah, you should expect them to get at least one hit, but Houston kept getting closer.
Octavio Dotel came on to pitch in the eighth and did he ever bring his A-game. First up, Juan Rivera. Gone—struck him out on three pitches. Next up, Alfonso Soriano. Boom—four pitches and he struck out Soriano. But—well, there was a but. That third pitch was a swinging strike three in the dirt, and Soriano galloped to first. So though there were two strikeouts in the inning, there was only one out. Turns out all that did was help Dotel make history. He fanned Jeter and then Giambi for a record-tying four Ks in one inning. Not bad, Mr. Dotel.
Now it all came down to one inning. And Houston brought out the best pitcher from a fantastic bullpen: Billy Wagner. The southpaw posted a 1.78 ERA with 105 Ks in 86 innings in 2003. This is the man you want on the mound to preserve a no-hitter.
Posada led off the inning, and battled Wagner something fierce. He fouled off four pitches, but missed on Wagner’s eighth pitch of the at-bat for the K. That brought up New York pinch hitter Bubba Trammell. Wagner took just five pitches to whiff him. For those keeping track, not only were the Yankees being no-hit, but that was eight straight strikeouts from three different Astros relievers.
So I guess it was a moral victory that Hideki Matsui made contact in the last at-bat. But it was just a weak grounder to the first baseman to end the game. Houston had done it, six pitchers had combined to no-hit the mighty New York Yankees. Houston won, 8-0. And it happened 10 years ago today.
2,000 days since the Twins sign free agent pitcher Carlos Silva.
2,000 days since the Phillies sign aging left fielder Geoff Jenkins.
2,000 days since Tommy Byrne, pitcher on Casey Stengel’s early Yankee clubs, dies.
5,000 days a slew of notable players appear in their last regular season game, as the 1999 regular season draws to a close. Among the departing are: Chili Davis, Brian McRae, Darryl Strawberry, Jeff Blauser, Otis Nixon, Paul Assenmacher, and Willie McGee.
6,000 days since Florida signs free agent Brian Daubach.
6,000 days since Texas signs reliever Jeff Zimmerman from the Northern League’s Winnipeg squad.
7,000 days since Scott Cooper hits for the cycle.
8,000 days since Randy Johnson walks a personal worst 10 batters in a game.
9,000 days since one of the most remarkable World Series upsets of all-time concludes, with the Dodgers winning Game Five over the A’s. Mickey Hatcher, who hit just one homer in the regular season, hits his second homer of the Fall Classic in the first inning, and that sets the tone for tonight.
20,000 days since Washington Senators owner Calvin Griffith, under pressure from AL owners, tells Minnesota he’ll stay in Washington for the time being. He will for the time being, but as soon as he can he moves the tem there to become the Twins.
20,000 days since Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente hits three triples in one game.
40,000 days Hall of Fame second baseman Tony Lazzeri is born.
1879 Roger Bresnahan, Hall of Fame catcher, is born.
1887 Danny Richardson becomes the first batter in Giants history to get six hits in one game. New York wins 26-2 over Washington, thanks to 11 runs in the first inning.
1891 Boston Braves infielder Bobby Lowe gets six hits in a game.
1894 Braves top Cubs 15-14 in one wild game. Boston led 13-7 after eight innings, but Chicago scored seven to take the lead, then allowed two to blow the game.
1904 Bob Wicker of the Cubs throws a no-hitter against the Giants for nine innings, but the game goes into extra frames. He wins 1-0 after 12 innings, but a single by Sam Mertes in the 10th broke up the no-hitter. It’s the second time in his career Mertes has broken up a no-hitter in extra innings.
1906 Braves third baseman Dave Brain commits five errors in a nine-inning game. His teammates commit an additional half-dozen.
1909 Boston defeats the Cubs, the only time all year that happens. Chicago will end 1919 with a 21-1 record against the Braves.
1915 One day after they locked hours in a 14-inning, 2-2 tie, Cincinnati and Brooklyn play an even longer game on this today. The Reds won 1-0 in 15 innings, behind the complete game shutout of Rube Benton.
1915 Ray Caldwell, Yankees pitcher, hits a pinch-hit home run for the second straight day.
1916 Indians pitcher Guy Morton fans four batters in one inning against the Philadelphia A’s.
1918 Jeff Tesreau plays his last game. He was briefly a workhorse and even staff ace for the New York Giants after Christy Mathewson lost his stuff.
1918 Pitchers duel: Pittsburgh’s Roy Sanders and Boston’s Bunny Hearn both go the distance in a 3-2 Pirate win in 16 innings. The tying run scores on a bases loaded squeeze play. Boston manages only one hit in the final eight innings.
1918 The Giants get only two hits against Cubs pitcher Lefty Tyler, but win 1-0 on a fluke first-inning home run by George Burns. He singles but the outfielder falls down and the ball skips to the wall for what the scorer rules a homer.
1924 Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes gets his 100th career loss His career record is 124-100.
1927 The Philadelphia A’s field one of the most impressive lineups of all-time: Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, Zack Wheat, Ty Cobb and Mickey Cochrane all play for Connie Mack in a game they lose 5-4 to Detroit.
1927 The Dodgers spoil Paul Waner Day by beating the Pirates, 11-10.
1927 Fred Werber sets a minor league record with seven steals in one game. Lee Mazzilli and Rickey Henderson later tie this mark.
1929 Frank Thomas, best hitter on the 1962 Mets, is born.
1934 The Cubs trade Dolph Camilli to the Phillies for Don Hurst
1935 The Tigers release Firpo Marberry, who a decade earlier had been a star reliever for Washington.
1937 The Red Sox trade brothers Wes Ferrell and Rick Ferrell with another player to the Senators for Bobo Newsom and Ben Chapman.
1937 The Giants trade dependable starting pitcher Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons to the Dodgers.
1937 The White Sox host Zeke Bonura Day for the popular, poor-fielding player. He’s given a car. In the game, he drives in five runs off a homer, two doubles, and a single.
1938 Johnny Vander Meer throws his first career no-hitter in a 3-0 Reds win over the Braves. He’ll get another no-hitter very soon.
1938 Cardinals outfielder Terry Moore gets a concussion by running into the wall at Sportsman’s Park.
1944 Hall of Fame Phillies outfielder Chuck Klein last appears in a major league game.
1944 The St. Louis Cardinals turn nine double plays in a doubleheader.
1948 The fans in Yankee Stadium aren’t happy when umpire Cal Hubbard ejects young catcher Yogi Berra, so they throw feces at him.
1948 Dave Cash, second baseman, is born. He’ll have a pair of 200-hit seasons with the 1970s Phillies.
1950 Stan Musial hits two triples in one game.
1950 Pirates pitcher Vern Law makes his big league debut.
1952 The Boston Braves make a deal for Hank Aaron after the teen had played one month with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues.
1952 After drawing a walk from Satchel Paige in the bottom of the ninth, Red Sox Jimmy Piersall mocks the hurler. He mimics Paige’s pitching motion, then mimes a seal and a pig. At the end of the game, Piersall’s teammate Sammy White bashes a walk-off grand slam off Paige for a 11-9 Boston win over the Browns.
1954 Al Kaline’s second career home run is his first grand slam. He’ll hit only two more grand slams in his career. It ends a streak of over 180 straight plate appearances without a home run for him.
1961 Norm Cash becomes the first Tiger to hit a fair ball over the right field roof at Tiger Stadium.
1961 The Cleveland Indians' all-time franchise record peaks at 568 games over .500 (4,866-4,298).
1962 Tito Francona pulls off a sneaky play: He shouts “Hold it!” while the pitcher is in mid-motion, as if time was called. But time hadn’t been called, and since the pitcher didn’t throw the ball and none of the umpires heard Francona, it’s a balk.
1965 That must have been fun to see: Johnny Callison hits a walk-off, inside-the-park home run.
1966 Mr. Cub Ernie Banks hits three triples in one game.
1967 Hank Aaron steals three bases in one game for the second and final time in his career.
1967 Chicago Cub Adolfo Phillips hits four home runs in a doubleheader, including three in one game.
1967 Don Pavletich hits a walk-off grand slam for an 8-4 Reds win over Houston.
1967 200-game winner Jim Perry has his best day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs in a 10-7 Minnesota win over the Orioles.
1968 The Reds trade Milt Pappas and two others to the Braves for Tony Cloninger, Clay Carroll and Woody Woodward. Not so long ago, Pappas had been the centerpiece of the trade where the Reds sent Frank Robinson to Baltimore.
1969 The Expos trade Maury Wills and Manny Mota to the Dodgers for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich.
1969 Boston’s Joe Lahoud hits three home runs in one game.
1971 Billy Williams finally takes the day off after appearing in over 1,000 consecutive games.
1972 Brothers Jim and Graig Nettles both hit homers in the same game.
1974 Yankees hurler Mel Stottlemyre sets an AL record with his 272nd start in a row without a relief appearance.
1976 Billy Martin manages his 1,000th game. His record is 543-456.
1976 Frank Robinson hits his 12th and final walk-off home run. It’s also Robinson’s only pinch-hit, walk-off home run.
1976 Jim Konstanty, 1950 NL MVP and one of the early prominent relievers, dies
1977 Greg Luzinski hits a grand slam and a bases-clearing double in one game for the Phillies.
1978 Tony Perez notches his 2,000th hit.
1978 Eternal baseball pitcher Mike Morgan makes his big league debut. He is just a teen, but will later become a four-decade player due to this early start.
1978 Odalis Perez, pitcher, is born.
1978 Robin Yount connects for the first of six career walk-off home runs.
1980 J.R. Richard pitches his third consecutive shutout for Houston.
1981 A ninth-inning double raises George Brett’s career batting average to it’s all-time high: .319248 (1,307/4,094).
1981 STRIKE: Baseball players go on strike at the conclusion of today’s games. It turns out to be the last game in the career of outfielder Billy North.
1982 Gaylord Perry pitches 10 innings in one game, the 40th and final time he pitches more than nine innings, the most by any pitcher since Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander.
1982 Jerry Reuss retires 27 consecutive batters, but it comes after allowing a double to the game’s leadoff hitter, as he leads the Dodgers to an 11-1 win over the Reds.
1982 Young Tim Raines has a frustrating day. He twice comes up with the bases loaded and grounds into a double play both times.
1983 Former star Yankees outfielder Bobby Murcer plays his last game.
1983 Star infielder Jose Reyes is born.
1985 Philadelphia's Charles Hudson posts the worst Game Score for any starting pitcher in the 1980s who won the game: 5 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K for a Game Score of 18. The Phillies beat the Mets, 26-7. At one point in the game, Philadelphia’s Von Hayes homers twice in one inning.
1986 The California Angels nearly blow a big lead against the White Sox. Entering the bottom of the ninth at Comiskey, the Sox trail 12-6. Then this occurs: Double, fly out, home run, walk, single, home run, hit by pitch—and then two more outs. The Sox scored five runs and had the tying run on with still only one out.
1986 Charlie Hough pitches 13 innings for Texas. No starter has lasted beyond 11.2 innings since then. It’s also the last time a starting pitcher had a over 1.000.
1988 Rick Rhoden, Yankees, becomes the first pitcher penciled in as DH since the creation of the designated hitter rule.
1989 Aging slugger Jack Clark undergoes maybe the worst game of his career, going 0-for-5 with five Ks.
1990 Nolan Ryan pitches his sixth no-hitter and becomes the oldest pitcher ever to throw one. He fans 14 and walks a pair as Texas defeats the A’s, 5-0.
1991 Mark Portugal becomes the last Astros pitcher to go over nine innings by pitching 10.
1992 Baseball owners vote 25-1 to allow the Nintendo president to purchase the Mariners.
1993 Well, that's distinctive. Today's Yankee-Brewer game is interrupted when 100 seagulls swoop onto the field at County Stadium.
1993 The Padres trade Tony Fernandez to the Mets. It's one of the few Tony Fernandez-related roster transactions that doesn't involve the Blue Jays.
1993 Minnesota's Dave Stevens becomes the third pitcher in history to throw three gopher balls without recording a single out.
1995 Mark McGwire hits three homers in one game, giving him five over the last two.
1995 Phil Nevin makes his big league debut.
1995 Rondell White collects six hits and hits for the cycle in Montreal’s 10-8 win over the Giants in 13 innings. San Francisco scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie it, 8-8.
1996 Julio Franco gets his 2,000th hit.
1996 Kenny Lofton undergoes the worst game of his career, according to WPA. He’s 0-for-6 with a walk and K for a –0.428 WPA. But his Indians win the game anyway, 6-5 over Oakland.
1997 A fifth-inning single gives Paul Molitor his best career batting average: .308332 (3,075/9,973). It’s very rare for a player’s batting average to peak after he’s gotten 3,000 hits.
1999 Milwaukee retires No. 4 for Molitor.
1999 Miguel Tejada smacks three home runs in one game.
1999 Randy Wolf makes his big league debut.
2000 Mike Bordick hits the 10,000th home run in Browns/Orioles franchise history.
2000 The Yankees sign what’s left of free agent Dwight Gooden.
2002 Pirates fire GM Cam Bonifray.
2002 Albert Pujols hits his second career grand slam.
2002 Jared Sandberg hits two home runs in one inning for Tampa Bay.
2004 Rey Sanchez hits a walk-off, inside-the-park home run.
2004 Jeff Kent’s longest career hitting streak peaks at 25 games. It’s the only time he had a streak last more than 13 contests.
2004 Former star catcher Charles Johnson appears in his last game.
2005 Marlon Anderson hits a pinch-hit, game-tying, inside-the-park home run in the ninth inning for the Mets, but they lose to the Angels in 10 anyway.
2006 Ivan Rodriguez homers on the 10th pitch of an at-bat, his longest battle to result in a home run. It's only a 2-2 count when he homers, too.
2006 Former star Mets second baseman Edgar Alfonzo plays in his final game.
2007 Raul Ibanez hits two homers, a triple and a double, but never gets that single to complete the cycle.
2008 Esteban Loaiza pitches for the final time.
2009 The Rangers sign free agent pitcher Orlando Hernandez.
2009 Woodie Held, former AL center fielder, dies at age 77.
2010 Andy Pettitte wins his 200th game as a Yankee. He’s only the third to do so, after Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing.
2010 Jamie Moyer has the second-worst Game Score of his career: -1. His line: 1 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He also allows six doubles in that mess.
2011 For the first time since 1923, the Braves have an all-time cumulative franchise record of .500 (9,982-9,982).
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.