Commentary

No-hit win makes no sense, except in baseball

Originally Published: June 29, 2008
By Tim Kurkjian | ESPN The Magazine

Baseball is the best game in part because every night you go to the ballpark, you might see something you've never seen before. No other sport can say that like baseball can, and Saturday night at Dodger Stadium was just such a night, a night that made no sense.

The Dodgers did not get a hit, yet won the game. The Angels did not allow a hit, yet lost the game. The final score was 1-0, marking the fifth time since 1900 that a team did not get a hit but won the game. The losing pitcher was Jered Weaver, who threw six no-hit innings but was taken out for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh inning after 98 pitches. When he left, the Angels trailed, 1-0, thanks to an unearned run allowed in the fifth.

This is the third time in the expansion era (since 1961) that baseball has had an eight-inning no-hitter: Boston's Matt Young threw one against Cleveland in 1992, and the Yankees' Andy Hawkins pitched one against the White Sox in 1990. Hawkins' no-hitter was officially considered a no-hitter at the time, but in 1991, the rule was changed, negating his gem. Now, according to major league rules, an official no-hitter is "when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings.'' So, the no-hitters by Young and Hawkins are not considered no-hitters, nor is the no-hitter thrown by Weaver and Jose Arredondo, who pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the road team Saturday night.

So the Angels did not allow a hit but did not throw a no-hitter.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't have much of a choice but to remove Weaver. Weaver probably could have gone another inning or two, but the Angels were losing, they've had trouble scoring runs all season, they hadn't scored a run in the first 15 innings of the series at Dodger Stadium, and Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley was dealing. Weaver can blame interleague play for his removal.

In the same weekend that the record for RBIs in a game by a DH was set by a National League player (Met Carlos Delgado), an American League pitcher was pulled from a game for a pinch hitter despite holding a no-hitter after six innings.

There was a questionable scoring call in the fifth inning. The Dodgers' Matt Kemp, who runs very well, hit a little grounder that was spinning furiously when Weaver reached it about 20 feet from first base. He took his eye off it briefly, then was unable to pick it up. Official scorer Don Hartack, who's employed by the Dodgers, ruled it an error, which was the correct call. Some official scorers will tell you that the first hit of a game has to be a legitimate one just in case it is the only hit of the game.

Some may say that Kemp might have beaten out the ball had it been fielded cleanly, and therefore it should have been scored a hit. But imagine the uproar if the Angels had scored a couple of runs, Weaver had allowed no other hits for nine innings, and that play had been scored a hit. It would have been viewed as a homer call for the Dodgers.

In the divisional era (since 1969), there have been three no-hitters in which a run was scored by the losing team: Darryl Kile allowed one in his no-hitter in 1993, Joe Cowley in his in 1986, and Blue Moon Odom and Francisco Barrios in their combined no-hitter in 1976. (Cowley walked eight in his no-hitter. Then-White Sox coach Doug Rader jokingly said after the game that "Cowley pitched so badly, I didn't even shake his hand after the game.'')

The Angels have thrown eight no-hitters in franchise history; the past six have involved either Nolan Ryan (four) or Mike Witt, who threw a perfect game in 1984, then pitched in a combined no-hitter with Mark Langston on April 11, 1990. The most recent no-hitter at Dodger Stadium was by Kent Mercker of the Braves on April 8, 1994. But those are still in play because a no-hitter was not thrown Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, even though the Dodgers didn't get a hit.

This could only happen in baseball, the best game.

Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book "Is This a Great Game, or What?" was published by St. Martin's Press and became available in paperback on May 27. Click here to order a copy.

ALSO SEE